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.
DETROIT - Some of the defendants sued by residents of Flint, Mich., in connection with the lead-contaminated drinking water in that city filed a brief in Michigan federal court on March 21, arguing that the lawsuit meets the local controversy exception to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) and, therefore, the court should deny a motion filed by another group of defendants asking it to alter its judgment with regard to exercising its jurisdiction over state law claims (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - An asbestos action filed outside Wisconsin's two-year window for suing Special Electric Co. Inc. after its dissolution is untimely, and an earlier motion to reopen and enforce its bankruptcy plan does not save the case, a New York justice held in an opinion posted March 21 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Thomas McGlynn v. Aerco International Inc., No. 190219/2016, 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 900, In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Bertle Stromholm, et al. v. Aerco International Inc., No. 190177/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on March 17 dismissed a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a local agency that supplies drinking water, concluding that its claims against local government agencies regarding liability for the costs of complying with clean water laws "have no merit" (Board of Water Works Trustees of the City of Des Moines, Iowa v. SAC County Board of Supervisors as Trustees of Drainage Districts 32, 42, 65, 79, 81, 83, 86, et al., 15-4020, N.D. Iowa; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39025).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on March 9 removed a suit in which it is accused of creating an overly broad list of e-cigarette and tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Act of Pennsylvania that are taxed to federal court in Pennsylvania because many of the claims are based in federal law (Kingdom Vapor, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 3:02-at-06000, Pa. M.D.).
NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana law will govern a survivorship claim as its application does not substantially affect Idaho, while the latter state's policy against punitive damages precludes allowing that claim to proceed in an asbestos action, a federal judge in Louisiana held March 6 (William C. Bell, et al. v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., et al., No. 15-6394, E.D. La.).
AUSTIN, Texas - Settlement negotiations in Texas involving asbestos liabilities do not support the conclusion that the parties sought to avail themselves of the state's laws, even if the company eventually selected to manage a resulting trust is based there, the Texas Supreme Court held March 3 in finding that the state lacked jurisdiction (M&F Worldwide Corp., et al. v. Pepsi-Cola Metropolitan Bottling Company Inc., No. 15-0083, Texas Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Plaintiffs' premises liability allegations in an action against aircraft company are sufficiently detailed to permit the claims to go forward, but strict liability and negligence claims lack supporting evidence regarding the products in question or are barred by law, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 23 in partially reversing dismissal of a case (Titus May, et al. v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., et al., No. 15-56219, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3314).
DAYTON, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 15 ruled that Garrett Day LLC and the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) can pursue claims for cost recovery under Section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Ohio Volunteer Action Program (VAP) but that they could not pursue a claim for common-law nuisance because they do not own land adjacent to the contamination (Garrett Day, LLC, et al. v. International Paper, Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-36, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21643).
PHOENIX - The Arizona Supreme Court on Feb. 14 agreed to hear a woman's case claiming that state law imposes liability for take-home asbestos exposures, according to the court's docket (Mary Quiroz, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., et al., No. 16-0248, Ariz. Sup.; 2016 AZ S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 221).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on Feb. 6 signed a final order canceling a trial scheduled for March following an $81,308.71 settlement between a group of Mexican migrant workers who claimed that the owners of farms they worked at underpaid them and violated federal labor laws (Cecillo Gutierrez-Morales, et al. v. Earl Lee Planck Jr., et al., No. 5:15-cv-158, E.D. Ky.).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 7 dismissed a lawsuit against the state of Michigan, its governor, various state employees and the city of Flint, Mich., for the lead-contaminated water crisis on grounds that the plaintiffs failed to comply with the notice requirements of a federal law pertaining to safe drinking water (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
CHICAGO - A Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 30 found that an Indiana law that regulates the manufacturing and distribution of vapor pens and liquids used in e-cigarettes violates the dormant commerce clause of the U.S. Constitution, reversing a grant of summary judgment to the state and remanding to the trial court with instructions to declare the challenged provisions of the law unenforceable against out-of-state manufacturers (Legato Vapors LLC, et al. v. David Cook, et al., No. 16-3071, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1598).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A school board had a common-law duty to provide a teacher with a safe work space free from asbestos, and local agencies can be held liable for such exposure where it falls within an exception to the general government immunity, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 25 (John F. Geier, executor of the estate of Marianne M. Geier and John F. Geier v. Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh v. American Art Clay Company Inc., et al., No. 625 C.D. 2016, Pa. Cmwlth.).
NEW YORK - The United States on Jan. 14 filed suit against a cigar manufacturer in New York federal court, alleging that the company failed to make payments after a civil fine was imposed against it under a law that was created to transition the tobacco industry to a free market (United States of America v. La Casa Grande Tobacco Corporation, No. 17-CV-225, S.D. N.Y.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 13 certified two questions to the California Supreme Court regarding whether California's notice-prejudice rule is a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis and whether a consent provision can be interpreted as a notice provision (Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., No.. 14-56017, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 668).
NEW YORK - A power company's specification that contractors use asbestos and its ability to prevent the related injuries allow it to be held liable under New York Labor Law Section 200, a divided New York appellate court held Jan. 10 (Phyllis Brown, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190415/12, 206, 205, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 98).
NEW YORK - A New York appellate panel on Jan. 3 affirmed the constitutionality of a ban on e-cigarettes or vaping devices in schools, restaurants and outdoor public spaces in New York City because the "one-subject rule" in the state's constitution does not apply to local laws (NYC CLASH v. City of New York, No. 152723/142014, N.Y. Sup., App. Div.; 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 41).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Submarines under construction are not vessels under maritime law, a federal judge in Delaware held Dec. 30 in finding that Connecticut law applies to the asbestos case (Ralph Elliott Shaw and Joan Sanderson Shaw v. Andritz Inc., et al., No. 15-725, D. Del. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180137).