BALTIMORE - State law issues predominate in an asbestos action where the only federal issues arise from third-party complaints, a federal judge in Maryland held July 18 in severing the original action and remanding it (Wayne Oliver v. Campbell McCormick Inc., No. 16-1057, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92756)
NEW YORK - An insured filed a motion for rehearing on July 7 in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that the panel failed to consider applicable Massachusetts law when it ruled that an insurer does not have a duty to defend the against an underlying environmental contamination suit (The Narragansett Electric Co. v. Century Indemnity Co., et al., Nos. 15-1137, 15-1397, 2nd Cir.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on July 7 denied Monsanto Co.'s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a woman who contends that her exposure to the company's herbicide containing glyphosate caused her to develop cancer, ruling that none of the evidence relied upon by Monsanto established that the herbicide is not carcinogenic, nor did it establish that the product in question was not misbranded under federal law (Yolanda Mendoza v. Monsanto Company, No. 16-406, E.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK - Union Carbide Corp., which is being sued by a putative class action that alleges personal injuries from exposure to fugitive chemicals from the closed Bhopal, India, pesticide refinery from which methyl isocyanate was released in 1984, on July 7 filed a brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that the plaintiffs' motion to certify state law questions following an opinion that decided an appeal is "improper" (Jargarnath Sahu, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 14-3087, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK - That an asbestos defendant supervised superintendents rather than individual workers does not preclude liability under New York labor law, a New York appellate court held June 28 while also affirming the jury's $3.5 million award for future pain and suffering (Ralph North v. National Grid Generation LLC, Nos. 1160, 1161, 1162, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2016 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4913).
DETROIT - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and state officials on June 27 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that a lawsuit brought against them pertaining to the lead-contaminated drinking water in the City of Flint should be dismissed because the plaintiffs fail to state claim under federal law, and the plaintiffs have failed to a substantive due process claim under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Under California law, a plaintiff may not pursue asbestos claims involving replacement gaskets and packing, but the man submitted sufficient evidence of exposure to at least some original or spare parts to pursue those claims, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held in partially reversing summary judgment June 16 (John H. Boyd III v. Warren Pumps LLC, No. 13-56975, John H. Boyd III v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., sued individually and as successor-in-interest to Buffalo Pumps Inc., No. 14-57018, 9th Cir.).
DETROIT - Flint, Mich., Mayor Karen Weaver on June 14 filed her answer to a lawsuit brought against her by the city's former administrator, arguing that she did not redirect funds earmarked for the Flint water crisis to her political action committee (PAC) and insisting that the lawsuit - which also alleges wrongful termination and violations of federal and state law protecting whistle-blowers - should be dismissed (Natasha Henderson v. City of Flint, Mich., et al., No. 16-11648, E.D. Mich.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania residents who won a $4.24 million verdict against a hydraulic fracturing company for groundwater contamination on June 14 filed a brief in a district court, opposing the company's motion for judgment as a matter of law, new trial or remittitur on grounds that it is "smarting from a humiliating defeat," and it seeks "to wipe out the reasoned decision" that was handed down against it (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on June 10 denied United Parcel Service Inc.'s motion for partial summary judgment on claims brought by the State of New York and New York City under the U.S. Prevent All Cigarette Trafficking Act (PACT Act) and the New York Public Health Law (PHL) because the plaintiffs have presented "sufficient factual matter to raise triable issue as to whether UPS is entitled to exemption under the PACT Act" (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).
PITTSBURGH - A federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on June 9 ruled that PPG Industries Inc. can pursue claims for contribution under state law and under the Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA) from a third party but that it could not pursue claims for cost recovery and indemnification (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75402).
CHICAGO - Two plaintiff side asbestos firms fabricated false exposure histories in a scheme to defraud and obstruct justice, John Crane Inc. (JCI) alleges in a pair of Illinois federal complaints filed June 6 alleging violation of the Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd, et al., No. 16-5913, John Crane Inc. v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, et al., No. 16-5918, N.D. Ill.).
NEW YORK - Defendants in a securities class action lawsuit have agreed to pay $140 million to settle claims that they misrepresented a company's compliance with environmental regulations for a South American mine project in violation of federal securities laws, according to documents filed in New York federal court on May 31 (In re Barrick Gold Securities Litigation, No. 13-3851, S.D. N.Y.).
PHILADELPHIA - Finding complete preemption of state law involving railroads applies Supreme Court precedent and broad existing federal regulations and does not ask a court to adopt a new standard, two companies told the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in May 31 petitions for rehearing (Peggy R. Hassell, et al. v. Resco Holdings LLC; and ACF Industries LLC, and Thyssenkrupp Budd Co., No. 14-1715, 14-1804, 3rd Cir.).
PHOENIX - A widow tells an Arizona federal judge in a May 24 filing that her promise not to seek enforcement during post-trial motions rendered it unnecessary to stay judgment arising from a $17 million asbestos verdict. The judge previously denied judgment as a matter of law on issues ranging from the sophisticated user doctrine to punitive damages (Sandra Brown Coulbourn v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, et al., No. 12-8141, D. Ariz.).
PHILADELPHIA - Recent Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals case law requires the judge overseeing the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation reconsider his ruling granting three defendants summary judgment on maritime negligence claims arising in a renal cancer case, plaintiffs argue in May 19 motions (Leroy J. Mortimer and Cheryl Mortimer v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., No. MDL 875, 13-4169, E.D. Pa.).
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on May 16 publicly released an award on jurisdiction and liability that was issued in an arbitration brought by Philip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong) against the Commonwealth of Australia in relation to its tobacco packaging laws in which it found that the claimant's initiation of arbitration was an abuse of rights (Philip Morris Asia Limited [Hong Kong] v. The Commonwealth of Australia, No. 2012-12, PCA).
MILWAUKEE - A group of plaintiffs who sued paint companies they allege are responsible for poisoning injuries from lead-based paint on May 9 moved in Wisconsin federal court to partially consolidate their cases pursuant to a federal procedural rule that allows for such a move in cases involving a common question of law or fact (Glenn Burton Jr. v. American Cyanamid Company, et al., No. 07-0303; Ravon Owens v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0441; Ernest Gibson v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0864; Brionn Stokes v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0865; Cesar Sifuentes v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 10-0075; Maniya Allen v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 11-0055, Deziree Valoe v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 11- 0425; Dijonae Trammell v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 14-1423, E.D. Wis.).
LOS ANGELES - Under California law, the sophisticated user doctrine focuses on the end user's knowledge of a danger, not an intermediary's knowledge, a federal judge said May 10 while also rejecting defendants' government contractor defense (Victoria Lund, et al. v. Crane Co., et al., No. 13-2776, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61847).
SEATTLE - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced May 5 that SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC will pay $125,000 for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA) stemming from the company's failure to alert a local emergency planning committee about its storage of nitrogen and ammonium bicarbonate and its releases of ammonia and hydrogen cyanide at its Moses Lake, Wash., manufacturing plant.
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on April 14 denied Philip Morris USA Inc.'s motion to enter final judgment on a class's claim that the tobacco company violated Massachusetts consumer protection laws, ultimately rejecting its argument that she would be violating the U.S. Constitution by deciding the issue herself (Kathleen Donovan, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 1:06-cv-12234, D. Mass.).
HELENA, Mont. - A Montana state court judge did not err when granting Atlantic Richfield Co.'s motion for judgment on the pleadings, finding that Asarco LLC's state law claims for breach of contract, negligent misrepresentation, breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing and fraud claims could have been added to an earlier federal lawsuit, a Montana Supreme Court panel ruled April 12 (Asarco LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. DA 15-0464, Mont. Sup.; 2016 Mont. LEXIS 266).
ST. LOUIS - A state jury in Missouri on April 7 found in favor of Philip Morris USA Inc. in the second trial of a 16-year-old class action suit in which the plaintiffs allege that the tobacco company violated state merchandising laws when marketing Marlboro Lights (Deborah Larsen v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 002-00406-02, Mo. Cir., 22nd Jud. Cir., St. Louis).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appeals panel on April 6 found that blunt wraps used to wrap homemade cigars are not subject to taxation because they are not legally considered "loose tobacco" under Florida law, reversing an assessment against a company that sold blunts in the state between 2009 and 2011 (Brandy's Products Inc. v. Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Alcoholic Beverages and Tobacco, No. 1D15-3101, Fla. App. 1st Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 5244).