LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
    D.C. Court Reverses Dismissal Of Mold-Related Condo Claims Against Agency

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia appellate panel on Aug. 15 partially reversed a trial court's dismissal of claims asserted by condo owners who alleged that defects resulted in mold growth and water damage, finding that they sufficiently pleaded their fraud claims and causes of action for violations of the District of Columbia Consumer Protection Procedures Act (CPPA) (Adam Lee Wetzel, et al. v. Capital City Real Estate LLC, No. 12-CV-1218, D.C. App.; 2013 D.C. App. LEXIS 492).

    Federal Judge Dismisses Toxic Exposure Claims Against Correctional Center

    EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - After finding that a plaintiff failed to assert any allegations of individual involvement in relation to his alleged toxic exposure and other claims, an Illinois federal judge on Aug. 13 dismissed a correction center as the only defendant in the case (Byron McShan v. Vienna Correctional Center, No. 13-cv-00712, S.D. Ill.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113868).

    Judge Finds 8 Years Of Alleged Exposure Provides Basis For Venue

    RALEIGH, N.C. - While the majority of a decedent's alleged asbestos exposure occurred elsewhere during his 40-year career, his eight years of alleged exposure in North Carolina "is not immaterial" and provides adequate basis for venue in the state, a federal judge held Aug. 14 (Jane E. Miller, et al. v. 3M Co. a/k/a Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing Co., et al., No. 12-620, E.D. N.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114859).

    Magistrate Judge Finds Defendants Not Responsible For Holdover Rent During Cleanup

    SAN JOSE, Calif. - Defendants accused of breaching the terms of subleases on a property in San Jose by allegedly retaining possession of the premises during remediation of contamination caused by the storage of diesel fuel tanks are not responsible for holdover rent, a federal magistrate judge in California ruled Aug. 13, finding that the cleanup activities occurred where the tanks were stored outside the building rather than the space that could be rented (Silicon Valley Telecom Exchange LLC v. Verio Inc., et al., No. C12-00899, N.D. Calif.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114379).

    Florida Appeals Court Vacates Punitive Damages, Allows Compensatories

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals court vacated $50,000 in punitive damages in a smoking wrongful death case Aug. 14, but allowed a compensatory damages award of approximately $957,000 to stand (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Pamela Ciccone, No. 4D11-3807, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 12726).

    Ohio Plaintiffs Fail To Carry Local Controversy Burden To Remand Whirlpool Action

    TOLEDO, Ohio - Claims against the owner of a recreational park joined as a defendant in a putative class action pursued in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio by neighbors of a Whirlpool Inc. factory in Clyde, Ohio, do not satisfy the Class Action Fairness Act local controversy exception for remand, the presiding judge ruled Aug. 13 (Tim Lagrou, et al. v. Whirlpool Corp., No. 13-947, N.D. Ohio).

    Louisiana Appellate Panel Reverses Summary Judgment In Natural Gas Lease Dispute

    SHREVEPORT, La. - A divided Second Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal sitting for rehearing of a summary judgment order in a disputed mineral rights transfer case on Aug. 14 reversed itself and the trial court on the grounds that the disputed trust deed is ambiguous; a panel of the court sustained summary judgment for the former owner of the mineral rights in an opinion issued in May (Claudia Simone Franklin v. Camterra Resource Partners Inc., et al., No. 48,021, La. App., 2nd Cir.).

    Florida Court Finds Tenant's Insurance Policy Excludes Mold Coverage

    WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appeals court on Aug. 13 affirmed a trial court's decision granting summary judgment in favor of an insurer, finding that a tenant's mold-related claims were excluded under his insurance policy (David Abraham v. Universal Insurance Company of North America, a foreign insurance company, No. 4D12-2742; Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2013 Fla. App. LEXIS 12647).

    West Virginia Landowners Fail To Adequately Plead Claim Against Natural Gas Company

    WHEELING, W.Va. - Claims of statutory violation against a natural gas well company were dismissed Aug. 13 in a U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia lawsuit alleging methane contamination of a domestic water well; the laws cited by the landowners do not grant the plaintiffs a right of action, according to the presiding judge (Jeremiah N. Magers, et uxor v. Chesapeake Appalachia, et al., No. 12-49, N.D. W.Va.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114157).

    New York Appeals Court Affirms Dismissal Of Tenants' Mold Claims

    NEW YORK - A New York appeals court on Aug. 9 affirmed the dismissal of tenants' mold-related claims against an individual defendant and a decision granting their landlords summary judgment, finding that certain sanctions in relation to the spoliation of evidence against the tenants were warranted (Agnese Ines Theodoli & Phillips H. Clarke III v. 170 East 77th 1 LLC, et al., No. 570128/13, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2013 NY Slip Op 51310$(U$)).

    Defendants In Litigation To Defeat Lago Agrio Award Told To Revise Privilege Log

    NEW YORK - A magistrate judge assigned to resolve discovery disputes in the lawsuit filed by Chevron Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York to challenge the $18 billion judgment for personal injuries and property damage by a Lago Agrio, Ecuador, court issued an order Aug. 8 granting in part motions to compel production of amended privilege logs by an attorney representing the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and by the Ecuadorian nationals named as defendants (Chevron Corp. v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113050).

    Oklahoma Governor Invokes Special Session To Address Tort Reforms

    OKLAHOMA CITY - Oklahoma's governor on Aug. 12 issued an executive order convening a special session of the state Legislature to address asbestos tort and other litigation reforms recently struck down by the state's top court.

    Unsealed $750,000 Settlement In Shale Gas Fracking Suit Filed In Pennsylvania Court

    WASHINGTON, Pa. - A confidential $750,000 settlement agreement concluded in June 2011 between a Washington County, Pa., family and natural gas extraction companies was filed Aug. 12 in the Washington County, Pa., Court of Common Pleas, 27th Judicial District; the case records were unsealed in March, but the settlement agreement was missing from the case file when it was delivered to the Washington County prothonotary in August 2011 (Stephanie Hallowich, et vir v. Range Resources Corp., et al., No. 10-3954, Pa. Comm. Pls., 27th Dist., Washington Co.).

    D.C. Circuit Majority: Agency Should Decide On Yucca Mountain Application

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - A 2-1 panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 13 granted a request for mandamus relief stemming from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission's failure to take action on the U.S. Department of Energy's (DOE) application to build a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain in Nevada, finding that the agency is breaking the law by not rendering a decision on the application (In re: Aiken County, et al., No. 11-1271, D.C. Cir.).

    5th Circuit Panel Affirms Economic Loss Rule Bars Texas Evacuation Class Claims

    NEW ORLEANS - A unanimous Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel entered a per curiam opinion Aug. 12 affirming an order dismissing a putative evacuation damages class action for failing to state a claim under the Texas economic loss rule (Edward Hall, et al. v. El Dorado Chemical Co. Inc., No. 12-20651, 5th Cir.).

    Judge Refuses To Order Settlement Activities In Cleanup Suit

    RALEIGH, N.C. - A federal judge in North Carolina presiding over two lawsuits brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) on Aug. 12 denied requests to require third-party plaintiff PCS Phosphate Co. Inc. to engage in settlement activities but stated that she would discuss settlement timing and techniques at an upcoming conference (Duke Energy Progress Inc. v. Alcan Aluminum Corporation, et al., No. 08-CV-460-FL, Consolidation Coal Company v. Alcan Aluminum Corporation, et al., No. 08-CV-463-FL, E.D. N.C.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113337).

    Defense Motions To Dismiss Granted In Part In Action For Pesticide Contamination

    HONOLULU - Defense motions to dismiss a class action lawsuit alleging that dust and pesticide contamination from a crop research center is causing property damage and personal injuries were granted in part on Aug. 9; the plaintiffs have until Sept. 6 to file a third amended complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii to correct defects identified in certain claims dismissed without prejudice (Jim Aana, et al. v. Pioneer Hi-Bred International Inc., et al., No. 12-231 $(consolidated$), D. Hawaii; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112851).

    Judge Says Plaintiff Raises No Reason To Alter Dismissal On Res Judicata

    KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge has denied a plaintiffs' motion to alter or amend his dismissal of tobacco wrongful death claims on the doctrine of res judicata, saying in an Aug. 12 decision that a court has broad latitude to invoke the doctrine (Christi Thompson, et al. v. R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 4:12-cv-01326, W.D. Mo.).

    9th Circuit: Data From Monitoring Stations Can Establish Liability

    SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 8 ordered a federal judge in California to determine the appropriate remedy for the excessive discharges of polluted stormwater by the County of Los Angeles after finding that data from monitoring stations downstream from the discharge points can be used to determine liability for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Natural Resources Defense Council v. County of Los Angeles, et al., No. 12-56017, 9th Cir.; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 16416).

    Couple Appeals Ruling In Asbestos Replacement Parts Ruling

    LOS ANGELES - A couple pursuing asbestos-exposure claims on Aug. 9 indicated that they will appeal a ruling finding insufficient evidence on which to a find a manufacturer liable for replacement asbestos parts (John H. Boyd Jr. and Mary E. Boyd v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 13-436, C.D. Calif.).

    JPMDL Refuses To Create New MDL For Gulf Oil Spill Suits

    WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Aug. 9 refused to create a second multidistrict litigation for suits brought by individuals, businesses and government entities who have opted out of settlement agreements with BP Exploration & Production Inc. to resolve claims stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, finding that it would lead to duplicative discovery and redundant pretrial proceedings (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" In the Gulf of Mexico on April 20, 2010 $(No. II$), No. 2457, JPMDL).

    Federal Judge Dismisses Putative Consumer Class Of Light Cigarette Purchasers

    MILWAUKEE - Saying it is impossible to know whether individual consumers believed light cigarettes were any safer than regular ones when they made their purchasing decisions, a Wisconsin federal judge on Aug. 8 dismissed a putative statewide consumer class (Charles Wyatt, individually and on behalf of a class of others similarly situated v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 09-C-0597, E.D. Wis.).

    Federal Judge Appoints Counsel In Consolidated Washer Class Actions

    NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 7 granted motions to appoint counsel in two recently consolidated class actions in which purchasers of front-loading washing machines allege mold growth and a separate class action based on claims that the washers contain defects (Robert N. Durso, et al. v. Samsung Electronics America, et al., No. 2:12-cv-5352; Jeanne Spera, et al. v. Samsung Electronics America, et al., No. 2:12-cv-5412; Chad and Jessica Chowning v Samsung Electronics America, et al., No. 2:12-cv-5440, D. N.J.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111412).

    Oil Spill MDL Judge Orders BP To Pay $128M To Fund Claims Budget

    NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana presiding over litigation arising from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 7 ordered BP Exploration and Production Inc. to pay $128,654,584 to fund the third-quarter budget of the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP), finding that the company's refusal was unreasonable (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, Case no. 10-md-2179, E.D. La.).

    Louisiana Appeals Panel Affirms Natural Gas Lease Maintained By Drilling Wells

    SHREVEPORT, La. - A unanimous Second Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal panel affirmed summary judgment Aug. 7 for a natural gas extraction company alleging that completion of a well on the leased premises maintains the lease and that the lease premises owner's declaratory judgment suit to vacate the lease is without merit (Questar Exploration & Production Co. v. Woodward Villa Inc., et al., No. 48,401, La. App., 2nd Cir.).