NEW ORLEANS - A company's uncontested evidence that it had no contacts in Louisiana overcomes conclusory statements and suffices for a finding that a court lacks personal jurisdiction over it, a federal judge in Louisiana held Nov. 30 (Breck Williams, et al. v. Rust Engineering & Construction Co., et al., No. 16-13136, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165012).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Nov. 30 vacated and remanded a ruling that denied benefits to a veteran's widow for his cancer and subsequent death in connection with exposure to Agent Orange, finding that the Board of Veterans Appeals failed to determine if the veteran's cancer could substantiate a claim for benefits (Anita Gauldock v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-2893, Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1846).
SAN FRANCISCO - Nigerian residents who contend that they have been injured as a result of an oil rig explosion on Nov. 30 filed a brief in California federal court, contending that their motion to substitute a fisheries expert in place of the expert they originally scheduled is based on good cause under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 16 (Natto Iyela Gbarabe v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Nov. 30 vacated a $20 million verdict awarded to the estate of a woman following a trial in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the damages awarded by the jury were excessive (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Gwendolyn E. Odom, No. 4D14-3867, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 17713).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 1 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling that three franchisors that are not based in the Gulf of Mexico cannot seek to obtain lost franchisee royalties during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, finding that they are not included in the terms of the economic and property damages settlement agreement (Claimant ID 100197593, et al. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 16-30283, 5th Cir.).
RENO, Nev. - A federal judge in Nevada on Nov. 28 partially granted and partially denied a motion for summary judgment by a hotel, finding that a cigar wholesaler breached a contract it had with a hotel in Las Vegas (Wynn Las Vegas LLC v. Cigar Row LLC, No. 2:15-CV-01079, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163570).
SAN FRANCISCO - A judge conducted only a perfunctory and conclusory investigation before finding that counsel violated court orders in an effort to elicit expert testimony regarding chemotherapy's impact on kidney disease, yet the jury already knew about the connection and no ruling excluded the testimony, a sanctioned attorney told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 23 (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, 9th Cir.).
DETROIT - Employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Nov. 28 filed a brief asking a Michigan federal court to rule on their motion to change venue before it rules on pending motions to dismiss a lawsuit brought by residents of Flint, Mich., who allege that the employees are liable for the city's lead-contaminated water crisis (Frances Gilcreast, et al. v. Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, No. 16-11173, E.D. Mich.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Nov. 28 issued an order transferring another case to the multidistrict litigation for injuries allegedly caused by exposure to the weed killer Roundup, stating that the wrongful death lawsuit brought against Monsanto Co. by an Illinois man involves questions of fact common to other actions already sent to the MDL (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
SPOKANE, Wash. - Monsanto Co. and its affiliates on Nov. 23 filed an answer against the city of Spokane, contending that the city's attempt to collect remediation costs for alleged contamination of its groundwater with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) should be denied because the plaintiff fails to state a claim (City of Spokane v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-00201, E.D. Wash.).
LOS ANGELES - Asbestos plaintiffs themselves introduced irrelevant contract provisions about which they now complain, and any error arising from improper jury instructions regarding an employer's duty did not prejudice them, a California appeals court held Nov. 22 (Kenneth Evans, et al. v. American Optical Corp., et al., No. B265222, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Nov. 22 dismissed as improvidently granted an appeal challenging whether a judge or jury properly decides if the lack of warnings on a product renders the product unreasonably dangerous (Thomas Amato and Jean Amato v. Bell & Gossett, et al., No. 5 EAP 2016, Charlotte Vinciguerra, et al. v. Bayer Cropscience Inc., et al., No. 4 EAP 2016, Pa. Sup.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Michigan residents who allege that state employees are liable for the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Nov. 22 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that the court should deny the defendants' motion to stay proceedings pending a final decision on their motion to change venue because the defendants' "purported concerns" do not justify a stay (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.).
TAMPA, Fla. - Fertilizer manufacturers who are being sued for groundwater contamination allegedly connected to an incident at their plant moved in federal court in Florida on Nov. 21, contending that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs' complaint "does not contain a single allegation that" contaminants have been detected beyond the borders of the property where the plant is located and because jurisdiction is lacking (Nicholas Bohn, et al. v. The Mosaic Company, et al., No. 16-02724, M.D. Fla.).
PHOENIX - A federal judge in Arizona on Nov. 21 denied cross-motions for partial summary judgment on breach of contract claims in a suit over indemnification for cleanup from contamination from underground storage tank (UST) leaks, finding that too many issues of material fact exist as to whether the discovery rule or tolling doctrines apply under Arizona law (Greyhound Lines Incorporated v. Viad Corporation, No. CV-15-01820-PHX-DGC, D. Ariz.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160960).
PHILADELPHIA - Federal contractors must only present a colorable federal defense for removal and are not subject to a special standard requiring that they prove their case to prevail against a motion to remand, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Nov. 22 (Steven Papp, et al. v. Fore-Kast Sales Co. Inc., et al., No. 15-2851, 3rd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 20924).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Expert testimony that every dose of asbestos contributes to the cumulative total simply states accepted scientific fact and is not the type of "every exposure" testimony rejected by precedent, a divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court held Nov. 22 in affirming a nearly $1 million verdict (Richard Rost and Joyce Rost v. Ford Motor Co., No. 56 EAP 2014, Pa. Sup.).
CONCORD, N.H. - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer asked a New Hampshire court on Nov. 21 to approve a $13.8 million settlement agreement with a bankrupt company's asbestos personal injury trust (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Company, No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Sup., Merrimack Co.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A state system designed to compensate injured police officers does not constitute a workers' compensation system and allows for a tort action alleging exposure to asbestos while in the employ of the city of Buffalo, a divided New York Court of Appeals held Nov. 21 (In the Matter of James R. Diegelman, et al. v. City of Buffalo, et al., No. 168, N.Y. App.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Nov. 21 filed a brief in the perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) injury multidistrict litigation, arguing that the MDL court should deny the plaintiffs' motion to compel the production of underlying data the company used to create witness summaries for a cancer registry used in the first bellwether trial (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
LOS ANGELES - Adjudication of a premises liability asbestos claim arising from work in Iran did not resolve the question of duty under a negligence cause of action, a California appeals court held Nov. 17 (Nader Kordestani, et al. v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. B257193, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
WEST DRAYTON, England - Oil and mining industrial services company Cape PLC announced Nov. 18 that a changing legal landscape means potential damages from an upcoming January trial over liabilities for a former asbestos factory could exceed expectations, potentially endangering a payment scheme designed to compensate injured workers and their family members.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Whether an asbestos plaintiff claiming lung cancer uses tobacco is a factual determination for a court and does not require a report from a competent medical authority, an Ohio appellate court held Nov. 17 (Bobby Turner, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. 103475, Ohio App., 8th Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 4647).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A motion filed by industry groups seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by a number of environmental groups over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's alleged failure to update oil and gas waste regulations was denied by a federal judge in the District of Columbia on Nov. 18, after he found that the industrial groups lack standing (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Gina McCarthy, No. 16-842, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159892).
SEATTLE - The Sierra Club announced on its website on Nov. 15 that the environmental group had reached a settlement in principle with BNSF Railway Co. that would require the company to spend $1 million on conservation and restoration projects in Washington and clean up and remove coal dust from areas near waterways where the company's trains carry coal to resolve a lawsuit in Washington federal court (Sierra Club, et al. v. BNSF Railway Company, No. C13-967, W.D. Wash.).