PITTSBURGH - The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania judge presiding over consolidated lawsuits alleging personal injury and property damage claims against the operator of a coal-fired electricity plant in western Pennsylvania entered an order March 7 granting in part defense motions to limit expert opinions with respect to the distribution of heavy metals near the power plant, cleanup efforts by the defendant and the persistence of compounds in the soil in a thallium exposure lawsuit (Michael Hartle, et uxor v. FirstEnergy Generation Corp., No. 08-1019, W.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29419).
LOS ANGELES - A California court on March 6 affirmed a trial court's decision in favor of various owners of a commercial property, finding that building employees failed to present expert evidence in support of their claims that Legionella bacteria and mold in the water system made them sick (Carol Harris, et al. v. 3075 Wilshire LLC, et al., No. B223826, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 2; 2014 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1629).
TULSA, Okla. - A chemical company that provided hydraulic fracturing fluid for completion of a well in Texas was granted summary judgment in part on March 7 in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma; the presiding judge ordered additional briefing with respect to negligence and express warranty causes of action (Crest Resources Inc. v. Dan Blocker Petroleum Consultants, Inc., No. 09-766, N.D. Okla.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29518).
CINCINNATI - A federal judge in Kentucky did not err in dismissing claims brought by two environmental groups challenging the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' decision to provide a mining company with a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA), a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled March 7, finding that the Corps properly considered the environmental impact of the company's operations (Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. 13-6153, 6th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 4267).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Evidence that a manufacturer was one of a limited number of brake suppliers for vehicle manufacturers does not create an inference that a mechanic working on those vehicles suffered asbestos exposure from the work, a Rhode Island judge held March 5 (Laverne E. Hostetterr and Eliza Hostetter v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. PC 12-0650, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation; 2014 R.I. Super. LEXIS 30).
CHICAGO - Lorillard Tobacco Co. is barred from presenting two studies from the 1950s showing that no asbestos was released from its Micronite filter, an Illinois federal judge ruled March 6, because insufficient evidence exists to evaluate whether the studies meet the scientific reliability requirements of Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (509 U.S. 579 $(1993$)) (Marilyn F. Quirin v. Lorillard Tobacco Company, et al., No. 1:13-cv-02633, N.D. Ill., Eastern Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 29081).
LAKE CHARLES, La. - A unanimous Louisiana Third Circuit Court of Appeal panel entered an opinion March 5 overturning judgments against a Concordia Parish, La., landowner who sued oil and gas companies for contaminating his property decades before he purchased it (John C. Duck v. Hunt Oil Co., et al., No. 13-628, La. App., 3rd Cir.).
ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge on March 5 denied a prisoner's motion to amend his complaint to add claims for hazardous exposures against various new defendants, finding that the allegations were new and must be asserted in another lawsuit (Contrell Plummer v. Wexford Health Sources Inc., et al., No. 11-cv-682, S.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27889).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Whether petroleum byproducts containing benzene are "an offensive substance" within the meaning of the Municipal Code of Roxana, Ill., was certified for interlocutory appeal March 5 by an Illinois federal judge (Village of Roxana v. Shell Oil Co., et al., No. 3:12-cv-577, S.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27759).
PITTSBURGH - The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania judge presiding over consolidated lawsuits alleging personal injury and property damage claims against the operator of a coal-fired electricity plant in western Pennsylvania entered an order March 5 denying cross-motions to exclude general and specific causation expert opinions in a thallium exposure lawsuit (Michael Hartle, et uxor v. FirstEnergy Generation Corp., No. 08-1019, W.D. Pa.;2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27755).
CHARLESTON, W. Va. - Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and 66 of its subsidiaries on March 5 entered into a proposed consent decree in West Virginia federal court in which the companies agreed to pay $27.5 million as a civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and spend an estimated $200 million to install and operate wastewater treatment plants to reduce discharges of polluted water from coal mines in five states (United States of America, et al. v. Alpha Natural Resources Inc., et al., No. 14-11609, S.D. W. Va.).
BALTIMORE - A proposal for a consolidated trial of Maryland asbestos cases lacks sufficient detail and likely places too heavy a burden on the court and litigants, a Maryland judge held March 5 in denying the motion (In re Baltimore City Personal Injury and Wrongful death Litigation Global, No. 24-X-87-048500, Md. Cir., Baltimore City).
DOVER, Del. - After finding a lack of evidence as to whether a condominium unit contained mold growth that required remediation, a Delaware chancellor on Feb. 28 approved a master's decision to deny a council access to the unit (The Council of The Pointe at Bethany Bay Condominiums v. Higgins, No. 7543-VCN, Del. Chanc.; 2014 Del. Ch. LEXIS 32).
MUSKOGEE, Okla. - A federal judge in Oklahoma on March 4 dismissed as untimely the Sierra Club's claims that Oklahoma Gas & Electric Co. (OG&E) violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by performing modifications to a boiler at its coal-fired power plant in March 2008 but found that the group could pursue its claims that emissions from the facility exceeded allowed limits of total suspended particulate (TSP) matter (Sierra Club v. Oklahoma Gas & Electric Company, No. 13-CV-356-JHP, E.D. Okla.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27290).
SEATTLE - Manufacturers at a deposition shared the same interest in discrediting a witness's testimony as an absent manufacturer sued in another asbestos case, a Washington appeals court held March 3 in allowing the evidence (Michael Farrow and Lidia Farrow v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 69917-2-1, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2014 Wash. App. LEXIS 449).
NEW YORK - Chevron Corp. was granted injunctive relief March 4 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against a plaintiffs' attorney representing Ecuadorian natives awarded $9.5 billion in personal injury and property damage compensatory damages in Lago Agrio, Ecuador, for contamination of the Oriente region of Ecuador; the presiding judge ruled that the attorney and representatives of the plaintiffs in Ecuador obtained the judgment by fraud and violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Chevron Corp. v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).
COVINGTON, Ky. - A Kentucky federal judge on March 3 granted summary judgment for an insurer, finding that a homeowner's claims that a hole in his water meter caused damage and mold growth were excluded under his insurance policy (Richard Geiman v. Northern Kentucky Water District, et al., No. 2:13-cv-177, E.D. Ky.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26700).
SALT LAKE CITY - An expert's testimony that each specific exposure to asbestos a man described could have led to his disease differs from the type of general "every exposure" testimony that falls short of admissibility, a federal judge held Feb. 28 (Arva Anderson v. Ford Motor Co., et al., No. 06-741, D. Utah; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88457).
NEW ORLEANS - A 2-1 panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 3 held that business and economic loss (BEL) class members seeking payouts under the $9.2 billion settlement for claims arising from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico do not need to submit evidence of causation based on the language in the settlement agreement (In re Deepwater Horizon, Nos. 13-30315, 13-30329, 13-31220, 13-31316, 5th Cir.).
ASHLAND, Ky. - Defense motions to dismiss a personal injury lawsuit alleging exposure to arsenic in pressure-treated utility poles and cross-arms were denied Feb. 28 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky; the presiding judge adopted the recommendation of a magistrate judge who found that the manufacturers of the chemicals used to treat the wood failed to warn of the danger of exposure to chromate copper arsenate in the finished product (Kevin W. Brown v. Arch Wood Protection Inc., et al., No. 13-61, E.D. Ky.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26089).
AKRON, Ohio - A putative disgorgement class of Marlboro Lights cigarette smokers cannot show a common injury to satisfy Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(3)'s requirement of predominance, an Ohio federal judge said in a Feb. 28 opinion denying plaintiffs' motion for class certification (Eva Marie Phillips v. Philip Morris Companies Inc., nka Altria Group, Inc., et al., No. 5:10CV1741, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25980).
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Restrictions on Native American prison inmates' ability to smoke ceremonial tobacco, grow their hair long and wear items of religious significance impose substantial burdens on their religious exercise, a Texas federal magistrate judge said in a Feb. 27 opinion, but are nevertheless lawful because the policies are the least restrictive means of furthering the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's (TDCJ) interest in maintaining security and controlling costs (Teddy Norris Davis, et al. v. William Stephens, et al., No. 2:12-CV-166, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25030).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A widow and her husband's former employer on Feb. 25 argued before the Ohio Supreme Court over whether a deposition in an asbestos tort action is admissible in her workers' compensation action when the employer was not present at the deposition (Mary Lou Burkhart v. H.J. Heinz Co., et al., No. 2013-0580, Ohio Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - A widow who claims that Medicare is not entitled to the proceeds of a settlement from an asbestos action must go through administrative channels before she seeks judicial review, a federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania held Feb. 25 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. IV) Maria Torres v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. MDL 875 95-1173, E.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24138).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on Feb. 26 granted a motion filed by the United States to dismiss a case filed by a tenant who alleged that he was exposed to mold and other hazards, finding that he failed to first exhaust all of his administrative remedies (Floyd Mallory v. United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, No. 13-0367, D. D.C.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24253).