NEW YORK - In a coverage dispute over asbestos litigation costs, a reinsurer and insurer submitted letters on Feb. 9 to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concerning how a New York high court ruling applies to a reinsurance contract's per-occurrence liability cap (Global Reinsurance Corporation of America v. Century Indemnity Co., No. 15-2164, 2nd Cir.).
LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Feb. 9 certified one of two proposed subclasses, comprising oil platform and processing facility workers, in a lawsuit against the operators of a Santa Barbara, Calif., pipeline that leaked into the Pacific Ocean in May 2015, finding that common questions predominate (Keith Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., et al., No. 15-4113, C.D. Calif.).
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.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and two other environmental advocacy groups on Feb. 13 filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the Circuit Court should review an Environmental Protection Agency permit that allows oil companies to discharge toxins into the Gulf of Mexico, which the CBD argues puts coastal communities at risk (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. N/A, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Feb. 13 announced its proposed changes to the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule, calling for the rescission of the majority of regulations on oil and gas operators who had been required to control the venting and flaring of methane produced by drilling activities.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 9 granted a motion by plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), approving the interim disbursement of $1,787,500 to the claims administrator for services rendered (In re: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
NEW ORLEANS - Shell Chemical LP on Feb. 12 entered into a consent decree in Louisiana federal court with the government and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in which the company agreed to spend $10 million to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the use of four industrial flares at its Norco, La., facility (United States of America, et al. v. Shell Chemical LP, No. 18-cv-104, E.D. La.).
DETROIT - Engineering consultants named as defendants in the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., and the class of plaintiffs alleging that they have been injured by that water on Feb. 9 filed briefs debating whether the federal district court has jurisdiction to order certain discovery at the current stage of the litigation (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Defendants' postponement of a deposition did not waive their right to cross-examine the witness, who died two weeks after he gave truncated testimony, a Delaware judge held Feb. 7 in finding the testimony inadmissible (William Derek Sykes, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. N14C-03-028 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 9 declined to review an $18 million verdict in an Engle progeny trial in which tobacco companies argued for a new trial because of the trial court's failure to dismiss a juror for prejudice against tobacco companies (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Andy R. Allen Sr., No. SC17-2055, Fla. Sup., 2018 Fla. LEXIS 356).
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Feb. 9 upheld a magistrate judge's ruling denying a motion to intervene filed by nearby residents of a Superfund site, holding that the request, which came two years after a settlement was reached between companies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was untimely (United States of America v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., No. 14-cv-312, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21524).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeals on Feb. 8 dismissed an Engle progeny suit because her attorneys did not have the legal authority to file and maintain a suit on behalf of a dead woman (Raymond Staines v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 1D16-2655, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1817).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The city of Davis, Calif., was cleared of liability from a couple's request for contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by a federal judge in California on Feb. 6 after the couple failed to respond to the city's motion for summary judgment (Charles H. Lewis, et al. v. Robert D. Russell, et al., No. 03-2646, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532).
AMHERST, Mass. - Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Missouri-Columbia on Feb. 7 released a hydraulic fracturing study that suggests that the mammary gland in female mice is sensitive to mixtures of chemicals used in fracking at exposure levels that are "environmentally relevant." The researchers conclude that "the impact of these findings on the long-term health of the mammary gland, including its lactational capacity and its risk of cancer, should be evaluated in future studies."
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).
CLEVELAND - Testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures all contribute to mesothelioma does not meet the standard for causation in Ohio, the state's supreme court held Feb. 8 in reversing a ruling that affirmed a more than $1 million judgment against Honeywell International Inc. (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 2016-1372, Ohio Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Contacts in furtherance of settlements suggesting asbestos exposures aboard U.S. Navy ships are "other paper" that make a case removable, but a woman's subsequent waiver of such claims warrants remanding the case, a federal judge in Oregon held Feb. 2. On Feb. 5, the defendants filed an emergency motion to stay remand (Maxine Pelker, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-1107, D. Ore., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17466).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A woman who reasserted asbestos exposure allegations giving rise to federal jurisdiction after remand cannot avoid removal a second time by once again rejecting those claims, a federal judge in Oregon held Feb. 2 (Melissa Coury, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 16-1796, D. Ore., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17463).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The federal government and state of Wisconsin can pursue claims for future response costs from a company that has not settled a lawsuit stemming from the remediation of the Lower Fox River Superfund site, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Feb. 5 in granting in part the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10cv910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18408).
MIAMI - A Florida jury on Feb. 6 awarded the surviving family members of a smoker who died from lung cancer $10 million in punitive damages, bringing the total amount of damages to $17.5 million (Kenneth Gloger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-23377, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 2 denied a landowner's motion to enforce a settlement agreement with a city accused of contributing to perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination, finding that the city must first resolve a dispute with its insurance carriers to obtain coverage (Gary Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-CV-1257 AWI BAM, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17769).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Allegations against a former railway employee allegedly responsible for safety destroy complete diversity and warrant remanding five asbestos cases, a federal judge in Montana held Feb. 1 (Kenneth Braaten, et al. v. BNSF Railway Co., et al., No. 17-94, D. Mont.).
DENVER - The city of Colorado Springs' complete demolition of an office building did not constitute construction or maintenance of the facility and did not waive its sovereign immunity protection against an asbestos claim, the Colorado Supreme Court held Feb. 5 (Smokebrush Foundation, et al. v. City of Colorado Springs, No. 2018 CO 10, Colo. Sup.).
ATLANTA - A former smoker who won a total of $26.5 million in an Engle progeny suit asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 2 to reinstate $20 million in punitive damages, saying the trial judge erred by revoking the damages (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA Inc., Nos. 15-15633, 16-10021, 16-15957, 11th Cir.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 5 awarded the family of a former smoker $27 million in punitive damages in an Engle progeny suit, bringing the total amount of damages to $40.9 million (Dawn Schlefstein v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-022558, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).