JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A panel of judges in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Oct. 18 ordered two law firms pay $9.1 million in sanctions for filing 1,250 frivolous Engle progeny complaints (In Re: Engle Cases, No. 3:09-cv-10000, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172678).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California court correctly imposed a $765,000 civil penalty against a man for illegal cigarette sales at two smoke shops on Indian land because neither federal law nor tribal sovereignty preempts the state's regulation and enforcement of its laws regarding cigarette sales, a state appeals court held Oct. 17 (The People ex rel. Xavier Becerra, as Attorney General, etc., v. Darren Paul Rose, No. C080546, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 900).
BATON ROUGE, La. - Two companies cannot even agree on what their "plain meaning" interpretations of federal law would require, so their interpretations should be rejected in favor of a clear rule that deposition testimony triggers the period for removing an asbestos case, an asbestos plaintiff told the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Oct. 11 (Curtis D. Morgan v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 17-30523, 5th Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 9 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court arguing that the company that made a lithium battery pack that exploded on a fracking rig and injured a worker has a direct duty under Oklahoma law to indemnify the fracking operator because the explosion was caused by an allegedly defective design (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Merely knowing of the presence of asbestos and its hazards is not enough to escape the state's workers' compensation exclusivity provision, a federal judge in North Carolina held Sept. 29 (Howard Milton Moore Jr., et al. v. Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc., et al., No. 16-157, W.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162517).
PHILADELPHIA - The bare-metal defense does not bar asbestos negligence actions under maritime law's "bedrock principle" of protecting sailors, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Oct. 3 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation [No. VI], Roberta G. DeVries, et al. v. Buffalo Pumps Inc., et al., No. 16-2602, Shirley McAfee, et al. v. Ingersoll-Rand & Co., No. 16-2669, 3rd Cir.).
CHICAGO - A magistrate judge in an Illinois federal court on Sept. 27 ordered a tobacco company to produce documents regarding the design of its rolling papers that are in the possession of one of its French subsidiaries in a trademark infringement countersuit after finding that French law does not entirely preempt the company making those documents available for discovery (Republic Technologies LLC, et al. v. BBK Tobacco & Foods LLP, No. 16 3401, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158986).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Sept. 13 consolidated five cases brought by environmental groups against Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt contending that he is in violation of federal law regarding the approval of a permit for ExxonMobil's petrochemical manufacturing facility in Harris County, Texas (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-1439, D. D.C.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 13 agreed to decide whether the state requires a medical expert to weigh in on whether a lung cancer plaintiff qualifies as a "smoker" or whether the law simply requires those already recognized as smokers to submit an opinion regarding the role asbestos played in their disease (Bobby Turner, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 17-0004, Ohio Sup.).
DALLAS - A motion seeking to unseal Russell Budd's 1997 deposition involving a memo allegedly showing his law firm coaching clients for their own depositions should proceed to a ruling on the merits, an attorney told a Texas appeals court on Sept. 5 (Christine Cole Biederman v. Beverly Jean Brown, et al., No. 01-07-00263-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Landowners have a duty under Louisiana law to protect contractors only from hazards of which they have knowledge and that are inherent to their property, a Delaware judge held in granting summary judgment to three premises defendants Aug. 30 (Sandra Kivell, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. N15C-07-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Seemingly contradictory corporate testimony regarding any steps a company took to prevent asbestos exposures, and evidence involving media and state laws detailing the dangers exposure presented warrant allowing a couple to pursue a punitive damages claim against John Crane Inc., a federal magistrate judge in Delaware recommended Aug. 30 (Icom Henry Evans, et al. v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 15-681 D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139582).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - Two nonbinding opinions involving different portions of Florida's asbestos law did not foreclose on a company's ultimately futile argument that a third section of the law should apply to the case against it, a federal judge held Aug. 22 in denying sanctions (Stacey Doolin, et al. v. American Optical Corp., et al., No. 16-778, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 134425).
NEWARK, N.J. - The special master appointed to oversee discovery issues in a seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit involving allegations of fraud on the part of a talc defendant and its lawyer said in an Aug. 11 letter that a law firm's representation of an unrelated party does not disqualify him from serving (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The federal judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation for Roundup, the herbicide manufactured by Monsanto Co. that contains glyphosate, on Aug. 9 ordered plaintiffs' counsel to show cause why it should not be removed from the case or otherwise sanctioned monetarily in connection with the law firm's decision to post online disputed documents that Monsanto contends are confidential (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Defendants in a seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit on Aug. 8 asked a New Jersey federal judge to replace a special discovery master due to conflict of interest from his past and current law firm associations (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals majority on July 21 upheld a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices on airplanes because the law banning the devices from planes benefits the health of the passengers (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13112).
CLEVELAND - Expert asbestos medical testimony that echoes the requirements in Ohio law is sufficient to make a prima facie case and need not be a signed document, an Ohio appeals court held July 20 (Kevin E. Howell v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. 104554, Ohio App., 8th Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 2984).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal magistrate judge on July 14 granted an insured's motion to consolidate a subrogation lawsuit filed by a property owner against an insured and an insurance coverage lawsuit filed against the insured after determining that the suits involve common questions of law regarding subrogation of costs and coverage for a property contaminated with mercury (BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC v. General Electric Company, et al., and Evanston Insurance Co. v. Accredited Environmental Technologies Inc., et al., Nos. 16-6577, 17-1584, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109447).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Michigan law does not hold a retailer liable for failing to warn about the hazards posed by asbestos in floor tiles it sold, a judge in Delaware concluded July 12 in granting Sears Roebuck Co. summary judgment (Scott Glaser and Sandra Glaser v. Sears Roebuck Co., et al., No. N15C-08-207 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co., 2017 Del. Super. LEXIS 342).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Evidence that a company manufactured valves with frequently replaced asbestos-containing components and that a man worked with that manufacturer's valves would impermissibly require a jury to speculate to find that the man suffered exposure to asbestos parts made or supplied by the company, a Delaware judge held July 12 in applying Massachusetts law (Dorothy Charbonneau, et al. v. Cleaver-Brooks Inc., et al., No. N15C-01-045 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
NEW YORK - A judge improperly instructed the jury that convicted former Speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver on the scope of conduct falling within honest services fraud and extortion charges under recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 13 in vacating his conviction involving mesothelioma referrals he sent to a law firm (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 16-1615, 2nd Cir.).
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - A Virgin Islands judge on July 10 ordered the consolidation of two separate wrongful death suits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for trial because they present nearly identical issues of law against the same defendant (Jevon Gerald v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-631, Christian Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-692, Virgin Islands Super., St. Thomas, 2017 V.I. LEXIS 102).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Under Massachusetts law, manufacturers are not liable for failing to warn about hazards posed by third-party replacement parts, dooming a widow's asbestos action, a judge in Delaware said July 11 (Dorothy Charbonneau, et al. v. Cleaver-Brooks Inc., et al., No. N15C-01-045 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).