NEWARK, N.J. - A federal judge on June 20 declined to stay discovery into a plaintiff law firm's referral deal in a New Jersey federal court case alleging that BASF Catalysts LLC and its law firm conspired to destroy evidence of asbestos contamination in talc (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK - New York procedural law, not Georgia substantive law, applies to a motion for summary judgment, and a valve maker has not met its burden of negating the possibility that its products contributed to a refurbisher's asbestos-related injuries, a New York justice held in an opinion posted June 18 (Deborah Miller, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190257/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2018 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2318).
HONOLULU - The governor of Hawaii on June 13 signed into law a bill that completely bans the use of pesticides containing chlorpyrifos starting in 2023, making it the first state to prohibit use of the chemical.
ALBANY, N.Y. - In a June 7 ruling, the New York Court of Appeals found that enforcement of a law that requires retailers on reservation land to prepay taxes on cigarette sales to patrons who are not members of the Seneca Nation of Indians does not run afoul of Indian Law Section 6 or the Buffalo Creek Treaty of 1842 (Eric White, et al. v. Eric Schneiderman, et al., No. 59, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 1353).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A law firm on June 4 removed to the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania a putative class action brought against it by a man who contends that the firm breached its professional obligations that were part of a contingent fee agreement in an underlying toxic tort lawsuit to which he was party (Stanley Waleski v. Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads, No. 18-1144, M.D. Pa.).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 4 agreed with a federal judge that fraud and racketeering suits filed by frequent asbestos defendant John Crane Inc. (JCI) against two law firms and their principals do not belong in Illinois federal court just because JCI is located in that state (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., Nos. 17-1809 and 17-1926, John Crane Inc. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, et al., No. 17-1814, 7th Cir.).
AUSTIN, Texas - An appellate court ruling threatens the workers' compensation exclusivity provision critical to the law's function by lowering the standard for filing a tort action from gross negligence requiring actual knowledge of a likely injury to simple negligence, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce told the Texas Supreme Court on May 25. In a response to a conditional petition by the appellees, the employer at the heart of the case told the court that the plaintiffs are following a recent trend in litigation by dressing up emotional damages as economic ones (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 18-0056, Texas Sup.).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - In light of a Missouri Supreme Court decision finding a law providing increased compensation for mesothelioma workers' compensation claimants constitutional, it is not necessary to stay a case involving a different take on the same law, a state appeals court held May 29 (Vincent Hegger v. Valley Farm Dairy Co., No. ED106278, Mo. App., Eastern Dist.).
NEW YORK - Three attorneys general on May 30 filed a lawsuit against EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt alleging that the EPA has made an "unlawful decision to delay a requirement for employers to provide enhanced training to protect farmworkers, pesticide handlers and their families from injury and other forms of harmful exposure to pesticides" (State of New York, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 18-4739, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York did not err when dismissing a lawsuit brought by residents who live near a Superfund site after finding that their state law claims were preempted by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 25, holding that the plaintiffs' claims conflicted with the terms of a remediation plan entered into between Honeywell International Inc. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Robert Bartlett, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 17-1907-cv, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 13860).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A 2014 law providing for enhanced workers' compensation benefits for mesothelioma victims applies in a case where an insurer and employer specifically agreed to cover future claims and does not act retroactively, Missouri's Supreme Court held May 22 (Accident Fund Insurance Co., et al. v. Robert Casey, et al., No. SC96899, Mo. Sup.).
WAUSAU, Wis. - A Wisconsin statute governing fraudulent transfer of assets does not alter the fraudulent transfer exception analysis to the general rule against successor liability, a majority of the state's Supreme Court held May 15 (Penny L. Springer v. Nohl Electric Products Corp., et al., No. 2015AP829, Wis. Sup.).
DENVER - A panel of the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will consider a law firm's motion for damages, costs and sanctions for what the firm calls a frivolous appeal in an underlying lawsuit for injuries against Dow Chemical Co. related to injuries from exposure to nuclear waste, according to an order issued by the 10th Circuit clerk on May 10 (Louise M. Roselle, et al. v. Berger & Montague P.C., No. 17-1328, 10th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Supreme Court on May 14 agreed to review a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that maritime law permits holding a manufacturer liable for third-party asbestos-containing replacement parts (Air and Liquid Systems Corp, et al. v. Roberta G. DeVries, et al., No. 17-1104, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON - While some factors weigh in favor of applying Massachusetts law to an asbestos wrongful death action, the fact that the injury occurred in Maine, a state where the defendant enjoyed a longstanding relationship, warrants applying the latter state's laws, a federal judge in Massachusetts held May 9 (Ruth Burleigh, et al. v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 16-11030, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77891).
SAN DIEGO - After finding that a property owner failed to allege specific facts as to which entities allegedly disposed of solid waste from a project site onto his property, a California federal judge on May 4 dismissed claims for violation of Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), California's unfair competition law (UCL) and other claims with leave to amend (Todd Ingalls v. AMG Demolition & Environmental Services, et al., No. 17-cv-2013, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75997).
NEW YORK - A judge in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York on May 4 partially granted an injunction sought by debtor General Motors LLC, known as New GM, and concluded that some groundwater contamination claims asserted by Michigan residents could proceed, but only with regard to assumed liability for compliance with statutory based environmental laws for violations that occurred after the bankruptcy asset sale (In re: Motors Liquidation Company, f/k/a General Motors Corp., et al., No. 09-50026, Chapter 11, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Longshore and Harbor Workers' Compensation Act provides the exclusive remedy for a widow and her children's asbestos-related claims and warrants granting summary judgment on their state law tort claims, a federal judge in Louisiana held April 30, while denying their motion to dismiss the implicated claims (Diane Pitre, et al. v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 17-7029, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71932).
SAN FRANCISCO - Two California counties and the city of Imperial Beach told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 30 that a number of energy companies accused of withholding information about the relationship between fossil fuels and climate change cannot appeal a federal judge's order remanding their suits, explaining that the decision does not involve a controlling question of law and will not lead to the termination of the litigation (San Mateo v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. 18-80049, 9th Cir.).
CINCINNATI - A woman who was formerly the administrator for the city of Flint, Mich., and then became a whistleblower after the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city on Feb. 14 filed a brief in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that a district court erred when it granted the city's motion for summary judgment because there are genuine disputes of material facts regarding her claims under state law, as well as the First Amendment (Natasha Henderson v. City of Flint, Mich., No. 17-2031, 6th Cir.).
HOUSTON - Texas law requires that claimants give notice of a workers' compensation claim within six months of the incident, rendering untimely a woman's asbestos action filed years after her husband retired as a judge, the county told a Texas appellate court on Feb. 12 (Jefferson County, Texas v. Ellarene Farris, et al., No. 01-17-00493-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeal on Feb. 8 affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss 73 Engle progeny suits filed by two law firms on behalf of deceased plaintiffs because "a dead person cannot file and maintain a lawsuit" (In Re 73 Engle-Related Cases, No. 1D16-2651, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1819).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A landowner must address new evidence related to whether it had a duty under Louisiana law to protect a contractor from asbestos exposure, a Delaware judge held Jan. 30 (Sandra Kivell, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. N15C-07-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Even though a toxicology expert's opinion on what level of pollutants causes health problems is contrary to federal and Kentucky law, it is still reliable enough to help a jury determine common-law liability, a Kentucky federal judge held Jan. 25 in declining to exclude the expert's testimony (Modern Holdings, LLC, et al. v. Corning, Inc., et al., No. 5:13-cv-00405, E.D. Ky., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11891).
NEW YORK - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Jan. 24 sued EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a New York federal court, alleging that he violated federal law when he issued a directive barring qualified scientists from serving on the agency's advisory committees that provide recommendation on safe drinking water and other environmental issues (Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 18-613, S.D. N.Y.).