SAN FRANCISCO - A law firm retained privilege over a former asbestos attorney's work product and was not required to obtain his permission before disclosing emails between him and a scientific consulting firm, a California appeals court held June 21 (Tucker Ellis v. The Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco, Evan C. Nelson, No. A148956, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 571).
BOSTON - An environmental group's Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit against a company that crushes brick, concrete and asphalt for construction projects was dismissed by a federal judge in Massachusetts on June 16 after he found that the group failed to allege how the company was illegally discharging storm water into the Bogastow Brook (Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. v. American Recycled Materials, Inc., No. 16-12451-RGS, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92803).
CLEVELAND - Expert testimony attributing a man's mesothelioma to cumulative exposure to asbestos in automobile brakes simply dresses up the theory that every exposure leads to disease in new clothing and is inadmissible under Ohio law, a manufacturer and its amici curiae told the state's highest court on June 15 (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 2016-1372, Ohio Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A man on June 6 filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Thomas Price, the secretary of HHS, in Florida federal court, saying the defendants violated federal law by allowing a tobacco company to use the word "natural" in the brand name and trademarks (Justin Sproule v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 9:17-cv-80709, S.D. Fla.).
MADISON, Wis. - Environmental asbestos exposure claims appear to simply be an attempt at avoiding the exclusivity provision of the state's workers' compensation law, while claims involving the licensing of a patent appear entirely frivolous and must be explained, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal held June 6 while affirming judgment for the two companies at the heart of the appeal (Janet Pecher, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-1799, Dianne Jacobs, et al. v. Rapid American and Weyerhaeuser Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2376, Katrina Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-2377, Robert Sydow, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2378, Kathy Boyer v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2379, Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-2380., 7th Cir.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A woman's reading of the state's statute of repose is both outdated and implausible and does not preclude application of the law to her case alleging exposure from insulation applied to a generator whose construction was completed in June 1970, a Maryland appeals court held May 31 (June Diane Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., No. 453 September Term, 2015, June Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., No. 40 September Term, 2016, Md. Spec. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 561).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A judge in Delaware state court on May 30 denied a motion filed by a plaintiff in a tobacco product suit to certify a class of Delaware smokers who spent money on Marlboro lights and denied the tobacco company's motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff's claims arise from state law, not federal law (Mary A. Carroll, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 03C-08-167, Del. Super.).
ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an en banc decision on May 18 ruled that federal law does not preempt smokers from filing negligence suits against tobacco companies and affirmed a $2.75 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8718).
PHILADELPHIA - Less than two months after having its fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, John Crane Inc. (JCI) filed the identical claims against one of the firms and its principals in Pennsylvania federal court May 15 (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A woman allegedly exposed to asbestos carried home on her husband's clothing has not alleged a change in law or newly discovered evidence that warrants revisiting a ruling that a manufacturer is not liable for her injuries, a Delaware state judge held May 11 (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Atlas Turner Ltd., et al., No. N14C-01-287 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Philip Morris USA Inc. says in a May 8 reply brief in California federal court in support of its motion to dismiss a wrongful death suit against it and another tobacco company that the man who brought the suit failed to join his children as parties and that he cannot represent them because he is suspended from practicing law (Julius Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-618, E.D. Calif.).
INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge in Indiana on May 8 denied a defendant company's motion to dismiss a claim for contribution under the Indiana Environmental Legal Action (ELA) statute, finding that there is no case law to support the argument that the act does not allow for such a remedy (Von Duprin LLC v. Moran Electric Service, Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-01942-TWP-DML, S.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69638).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - While not uncontested, enough evidence supports a law judge's conclusion that an employee was both exposed to asbestos and other chemicals within the compensable period for a workers' compensation claim and that the exposure was significant enough to cause bladder cancer, a Pennsylvania appeals court held May 4 (Kimberly Clark Corp. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, No. 656 C.D. 2016, Pa. Cmwlth., 2017 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 175).
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on April 19 remanded a class action lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination by a group of defendant chemical companies, ruling that the local exception to federal class action law applied (MD Haynes Inc. d/b/a Cici's Pizza, et al. v. Valero Marketing and Supply Co., et al., No. 17-6, S.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist., LEXIS 59495).
RENO, Nev. - A federal judge in Nevada on April 13 found that a cigar company that filed a counterclaim against the owner of several properties in Nevada failed to state a "cognizable" counterclaim in a suit where the property owner claimed that the cigar company failed to collect taxes on tobacco products as required by Nevada law (Wynn Las Vegas LLC v. Cigar Row LLC, No. 2:15-CV-01079, D. Nev., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56886).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on April 12 dismissed a lawsuit brought by a class of residents who contended that they were exposed to hazardous chemicals from a coal-fired power plant so that the plaintiffs could file the claims in Kentucky state court. The judge declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims (Kathy Little, et al. v. Louisville Gas & Electric Company, No. 13-1214, W.D. Ky.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56467).
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on April 5 denied motions for reconsideration filed by two insurers and their insured after determining that the court did not commit a clear error of law in interpreting the applicability of the policies' per-occurrence limits and absolute pollution exclusion in an environmental contamination dispute (Castoro & Co. Inc. v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. Inc., et al., No. 14-1305, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52140).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on April 6 affirmed trial court's judgment in favor of an Engle progeny plaintiff after answering a certified question from a lower appellate court finding that federal law does not preempt negligence and strict liability claims because those claims do not hinder the sale of cigarettes, but go after the tobacco companies for their conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking from the public (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Phil J. Marotta, No. SC16-218, Fla. Super., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 744).
LOS ANGELES - An asbestos plaintiff's disclaimer for any claims arising from conduct in a military or federal worksite precluded a boiler maker's removal of the case, but enough case law supports the move that sanctions are not warranted, a federal judge in California held March 31 (John Hukkanen, et al. v. Air and Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-2227, C.D. Calif.).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri appeals court affirmed a nearly $4 million asbestos verdict on March 28, tossing aside a wire company's challenges to the admission of lay witness testimony, sufficiency of causation evidence, application of a cap on wrongful death damages and assignment of rights to recovery from bankruptcy trusts under Wisconsin law (Jean Urbach, et al. v. The Okonite Co., No. ED104393, Mo. App., Eastern Dist., 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 207).
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on March 24 dismissed without prejudice a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Agency and others, finding that the court lacked jurisdiction over the groups' allegations that the agency was not undertaking a nondiscretionary duty to require dischargers of storm water into the Charles River to obtain permits (Conservation Law Foundation, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-10397-RGS, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43354).
CHICAGO - Illinois federal court is the wrong jurisdiction for John Crane Inc.'s fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders, two federal judges held separately March 23 in dismissing the company's lawsuits, but without prejudice to refile the actions in the proper courts (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 16-5913, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42758, John Crane Inc. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, et al., No. 16-5918, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41840).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The Delaware Supreme Court on March 23 determined that the law of New York should be applied in a dispute over the allocation of environmental contamination claims because New York has the most significant relationship with the parties and applying the law of the state in which an environmental cleanup site is located, as proposed by the lower court, would result in an inconsistent application of a policy's contract language (Chemtura Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at CCLC Lloyd's, et al., No. 371, 2016, Del. Sup., 2017 Del. LEXIS 127).
DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa became the first state to legislatively bar asbestos claims arising from third-party parts on March 23 after its governor signed legislation codifying the bare-metal and component parts doctrine. The law also requires additional transparency in asbestos-related trust filings, imposes medical criteria from bringing asbestos- and silica-related claims, restricts trial consolidation and negates certain forms of successor liability.