WILMINGTON, Del. - A couple produces some evidence of exposure to products from named defendants but no evidence the products contained asbestos or that the work in question released asbestos, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held Aug. 31 in applying the bare metal defense and recommending summary judgment for five companies (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Marilyn Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140328).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - An environmental remediation company's counterclaims against the owner of a gas station for breach of a fixed price remediation agreement (FPA) were dismissed by a federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 after the judge ruled that the claims were previously litigated during an arbitration proceeding (Plumbing Supply, LLC v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 14 CV 3674, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142747).
NEWARK, N.J. - Former asbestos plaintiffs adopted a frivolous interpretation of a discovery ruling in an effort to avoid required production, a talc company told a New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 30. In a Sept. 1 letter, the plaintiffs, who claim that they were defrauded into settling claims for far less than they were worth after the company used a carefully crafted record retention policy to destroy evidence of asbestos contamination of its talc, lamented that the defendant brought the judge into the dispute before allowing the parties or special discovery master to resolve it (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
ROANOKE, Va. - A release precluding liability for future asbestos injuries contemplated by the parties does not violate Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), the Virginia Supreme Court held Aug. 31 in applying the risk-of-harm standard (Alan Barry Cole, et al. v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., No. 161163, Va. Sup., 2017 Va. LEXIS 109).
DES MOINES, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on Sept. 5 ruled that two tire companies are liable for $11 million under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for selling buildings on a Superfund site in the state that were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (United States of America v. Dico, Inc., et al., No. 10-cv-503, S.D. Iowa).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A reinsurer owes $7.9 million to two insurers for asbestos claims, a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Sept. 1, rejecting the reinsurer's argument that it already paid out $11 million under specific limits of the policies (Century Indemnity Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Co., No. 1280 EDA 2016, Pa. Super., 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3300).
DALLAS - Generalized knowledge of the risk asbestos posed is sufficient to show that an employer acted with gross negligence in exposing an individual, a divided Texas appeals court held Aug. 30 in affirming a verdict but reducing the economic damages award (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 05-15-00001-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 8382).
WILMINGTON, Del. - An unsigned and unnotarized affidavit stating that a woman didn't learn of the potential asbestos connection to lung cancer until after her attorneys filed suit is insufficient evidence on which to deny summary judgment under the statute of limitations, a Delaware judge held Aug. 29 (Sherrie Bagwell, et al. v. BorgWarner Morse Tec LLC, et al., No. N14C-06-023 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Citing the recent changes to how courts handle jurisdiction wrought by the U.S. Supreme Court's Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California ruling, a Delaware judge on Aug. 30 granted an asbestos plaintiff additional time to conduct discovery into the issue of personal jurisdiction over a Michigan company (Derry L. Middleton, et al. v. McCord Corp., et al., No. N14C-05-261 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Landowners have a duty under Louisiana law to protect contractors only from hazards of which they have knowledge and that are inherent to their property, a Delaware judge held in granting summary judgment to three premises defendants Aug. 30 (Sandra Kivell, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. N15C-07-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - A lawyer who pleaded guilty to inserting his firm's clients as defendants and then billing them as if he represented them in the cases cannot contest a portion of his restitution sentence he claims was legitimately spent, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 29 (United States v. Arobert C. Tonagbanua, No. 17-1815, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16506).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A shared defendant and expert witness alone do not provide a sufficient nexus to warrant consolidated trial, a Delaware judge held Aug. 29 (In re Asbestos Litigation, Limited to: Craig Cantarano, Donald Gladu, Nos. N15C-10-30 ASB, N15C-09-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co., 2017 Del. Super. LEXIS 425).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Seemingly contradictory corporate testimony regarding any steps a company took to prevent asbestos exposures, and evidence involving media and state laws detailing the dangers exposure presented warrant allowing a couple to pursue a punitive damages claim against John Crane Inc., a federal magistrate judge in Delaware recommended Aug. 30 (Icom Henry Evans, et al. v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 15-681 D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139582).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An appellate panel in Florida on Aug. 30 reversed a $10 million judgment awarded to the widow of a man who died from lung cancer because of his addiction to cigarettes after finding that the trial court erred by allowing the U.S. surgeon general's report on cigarettes into evidence (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Rose Pollari, No. 4D16-334, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 12470).
CHICAGO - Expert testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures causes disease is not significantly different than the opinion that every exposure causes a disease, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Aug. 31. The panel also found no prejudice from a defendant company's investigation into a juror (Charles Krik v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. 15-3112, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16795).
SAN FRANCISCO - A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 29 upheld a district court decision to dismiss counterclaims against an Indian tribe in a tobacco tax lawsuit after finding that the counterclaims are barred by sovereign immunity (Quinault Indian Nation v. Mary Linda Pearson, No. 15-35263, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16510).
LOS ANGELES - A California appellate court on Aug. 30 affirmed a $3.75 million verdict in a product defect and negligence suit against a tobacco company to the widow of a man who died from lung cancer after finding that the trial court did not err in excluding evidence of the man's exposure to asbestos (Tajie Major v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. B260355, Calif. App. 2nd Dist. 8th Div., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 749).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on Aug. 29 filed a brief in a California federal court arguing that plaintiffs' counsel in a multidistrict litigation regarding the herbicide Roundup improperly released to the public confidential company documents about the carcinogenicity of glyphosate, Roundup's active ingredient, and now the plaintiffs' counsel wants to expunge the record of documents related to that "misconduct" (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and hydraulic fracturing company Range Resources - Appalachia LLC on Aug. 28 reached a settlement in a lawsuit the agency brought pertaining to a methane leak at one of the company's sites in 2011 that contaminated local water wells. Details of the agreement were not disclosed (Range Resources - Appalachia LLC v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2015-077-R, Pa. EHB).
NEW YORK - A release signed in a previous tort action lists asbestos-related illnesses among the diseases for which the employee released his employer from liability, but the agreement's boilerplate language is not the type of carefully negotiated terms required to bar a subsequent lawsuit alleging mesothelioma, a majority of a New York appeals court held Aug. 29 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Anne M. South, etc. v. Chevron Corp., etc., et al., No. 4048 190029/15, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A 2-1 panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 28 affirmed a federal judge in California's ruling approving a settlement between two environmental groups and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that extended the deadline for which the agency must make designations on an area's emissions of sulfur dioxide, holding that the extension of the deadline does not adversely impact claims brought by states saying the agency's delay in making those decisions is harmful (Sierra Club, et al. v. North Dakota, et al., No. 15-15894, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16400).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - An industrial hygienist's affidavit and supporting evidence conclusively establish the last injurious exposure in an asbestos workers' compensation case, West Virginia's top court held Aug. 24 (Arnold Marcum v. Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, No. 16-0924, W.Va. Sup. App., 2017 W. Va. LEXIS 622).
LOS ANGELES - A trial court properly excluded an asbestos expert's testing and resulting causation opinion after concluding that chain-of-custody concerns regarding vintage bottles of talcum powder rendered the evidence unreliable, a California appeals court held Aug. 25 (Delgadina Alfaro v. Imerys Talc America Inc., et al., No. B277284, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5875).
SAN DIEGO - Parties in a dispute over a permit that allowed an energy company to store spent nuclear waste at the site of a decommissioned power plant in California on Aug. 25 agreed to resolve the lawsuit in a stipulation in California state court, wherein the owner of the facility agreed to move the spent nuclear fuel for off-site storage (Citizens Oversight Inc., et al. v. California Coastal Commission, et al., No. 37-2015-00037137-CU-WM-CTL, Calif. Super., San Diego Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - A panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 28 ruled that New Jersey residents who alleged that they were poisoned by vinyl chloride as a result of a train derailment, as well as first responders who came to their aid, were not entitled to punitive damages and compensatory damages did not pass the jurisdictional threshold (In Re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, Nos. 15-4039, 16-1654, 16-1655, 3rd Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16393).