ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The state's statute of repose acts prospectively and does not cover exposures occurring before enactment, and its "improvement to real property" language cannot possibly be interpreted as covering the asbestos dust in a man's lungs, a woman told Maryland's top court on Nov. 21. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1 (June Diane Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 41 September Term, 2017, Md. App.).
SAN DIEGO - The city of San Diego has standing to bring a nonrepresentative public nuisance claim against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, a federal judge in California ruled Nov. 22, holding that the city sufficiently alleged that its municipal storm water system has been adversely affected by the presence of the chemical (City of San Diego, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193570).
BALTIMORE - Testimony that a man worked on "all of" the vessels at a shipyard cannot realistically mean he worked on every ship and, even when combined with evidence of two insulation contractors' presence at the facility, is not enough to establish exposure to asbestos from their work, a Maryland appeals court held Nov. 20 (Kathryn A. Davenport, et al. v. MCIC Inc., et al., No. 1204 September Term, 2016, Md. Spec. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 1162).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A jury in an Engle progeny suit was unable to come to a verdict in Florida state court and a mistrial was granted in a tobacco suit in which a woman claimed that her mother's lung cancer and death were caused by her addiction to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Julie Adamson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2016CA008532, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
ROANOKE, Va. - A plaintiff company seeking contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) from an adjacent property owner can present testimony from an expert about drainage from mining tailings on the defendant's property, a federal judge in Virginia ruled Nov. 22, finding that the information is relevant (Dixon Lumber Co., Inc. v. Austinville Limestone Co., Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193189).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A court erred "in the most fundamental sense" in applying the wrong standard and relieving manufacturers of liability for take-home asbestos exposures simply because they were more distant from the exposed individual than the premises owner, amici curiae tell Delaware's top court in a Nov. 20 brief (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center, et al., No. 305, 2017, Del. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A man awarded $6 million for his mesothelioma on Nov. 20 waived his right to respond to a drywall materials' U.S. Supreme Court petition seeking to vacate the verdict (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A magistrate judge in New York federal court on Nov. 20 issued a report and recommendation denying remand of a groundwater contamination class action to state court, determining that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that a sufficient number of class members are citizens of the state of New York (Isaac Green, et al. v. The 3M Company, et al., No. 17-2566, E.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192795).
DETROIT - Two employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Nov. 21 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that the district court should strike allegations of involuntary manslaughter and order sanctions against the class of residents suing them in connection with the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city of Flint, Mich. (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
UTICA, N.Y. - In a dispute over a $325 million settlement of asbestos claims, a New York federal judge on Nov. 16 addressed a number of motions filed by an insurer and a reinsurer to preclude expert testimony and certain arguments from trial (Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., No. 09-00853, N.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189911).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Nov. 16 appointed the Official Committee of Asbestos Personal Injury Claimants in the new Chapter 11 case of Bestwall LLC, selecting one of three claimants who requested to sit on the committee in addition to the nine claimants proposed by the U.S. bankruptcy administrator (In re Bestwall LLC, No. 17-31795, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Rahm Manuel announced Nov. 20 that the city filed a notice of intent to sue U.S. Steel for contamination to drinking water as a result of two spills from the company's Portage, Ind., facility that reached Lake Michigan earlier this year.
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Nov. 16 ruled that a group of plaintiffs asserting claims of personal injury from exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE), vinyl chloride, benzene and other chemicals is not entitled to class certification (Opal Millman v. United Technologies Corporation, et al., No. 16-312, N.D. Ind.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189638).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Environmental Protection Agency must respond to Sierra Club's petition asking the agency to object to a proposed operating permit for a power plant in Tennessee by Jan. 31, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled Nov. 17 in granting the group's motion for summary judgment (Sierra Club v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-906, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190374).
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Nov. 17 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to deny dismissal of a lawsuit brought by three environmental groups over discharges from a nuclear power plant's facility, holding that the groups have standing to bring their suit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, et al. v. Florida Power & Light Company, No. 16-23017-CIV-GAYLES/OTAZA-REYES, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190504).
NEW YORK - The New York Department of Investigation (DOI) on Nov. 15 issued a report indicating that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) failed to conduct mandatory safety inspections for lead paint during a four-year period beginning in 2013 but falsified reports to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stating that the NYCHA was in compliance with federal laws pertaining to those inspections.
LOS ANGELES - A California jury on Nov. 16 returned a verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson in the first ever cosmetic-talc asbestos case taken to trial against the company, while also handing a defense verdict to the company that mined the raw talc, sources told Mealey Publications (Tina Herford, et al. v. AT&T Corp., et al., No. BC646315, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
AMHERST, S.D. - TransCanada Corp. announced Nov. 16 that it shut down its Keystone pipeline after it experienced a leak in South Dakota that resulted in an oil spill of 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil.
HELENA, Mont. - W.R. Grace's bankruptcy order enjoining new litigation tolled the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) three-year statute of limitations for suing an associated railroad that allegedly exposed a worker to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, the Montana Supreme Court held Nov. 14 (Kelly G. Watson v. BNSF Railway Co., et al., No. DA 17-0229, Mont. Sup., 2017 Mont. LEXIS 678).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania jury on Nov. 15 returned a defense verdict for a handful of boiler and furnace manufacturers and parts supply houses, finding that the asbestos-containing products in question were not unreasonably dangerous and that none of the five defendants acted negligently (Diane Horst, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 15 CV 1903, Pa. Comm. Pls., Lackawanna Co.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - Plaintiffs alleging asbestos exposure in drilling mud must respond to written discovery seeking information regarding injuries, exposure and work history and seeking the release of related medical records and work histories, a federal judge in Louisiana said Nov. 14 (Manuel Garza v. Phillips 66 Co., et al., No. 13-742, M.D. La.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Two companies supplied tons of asbestos-containing paper to a manufacturer without any type of warning, despite clear evidence of the fiber's dangers to workers and household members, a women tells Delaware's top court in urging it to reinstate her second-hand exposure case (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center, et al., No. 305, 2017, Del. Sup.).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation stemming from groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on Nov. 13 recommended remanding the Orange County Water District's (OCWD) lawsuit to California federal court, finding that all consolidated pretrial proceedings in the suit have been completed (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Products liability Litigation, MDL 1358, Orange County Water District v. Unocal, et al., No. 04 Civ. 4968, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187458).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on Nov. 10 filed a brief in the multidistrict litigation for the herbicide Roundup in California federal court, arguing that the evidence offered by the plaintiffs' expert concerning the carcinogenic properties of Roundup's active ingredient glyphosate is "unreliable" and constitutes "junk science" (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Monsanto Co. and numerous agricultural trade groups on Nov. 15 filed a lawsuit in California federal court against two state agencies and their directors, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent them from "mandating false, misleading, and highly controversial cancer warnings concerning the herbicide glyphosate" (National Association of Wheat Growers, et al. v. Lauren Zeise, et al., No. 17-at-1224, E.D. Calif.).