NEWARK, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on April 3 denied General Electric Co.'s (GE) motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for contamination at a site sold to a developer in 2015, ruling that discovery is needed to find the definition of "environmental response activities" in the indemnity and settlement agreement (ISA) (BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC v. General Electric Company, No. 16-6577, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50265).
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on March 31 approved a proposed settlement between the federal government, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana and United States Steel Corp. over violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), but acknowledged comments from objectors to the agreement who sought a harsher civil penalty or an agreement that the company take on more environmental projects (United States of America, et al. v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 12-CV-304-PPS-APR, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47607).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a Florida jury awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer related to cigarette smoking $3 million in compensatory damages on March 28, the attorneys for the widow and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on April 3 came to a confidential settlement over punitive damages before the jury had a chance to deliberate (James Whitmire v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-002337, Fla. 2nd Jud. Cir. Leon Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on March 31 vacated a $4.24 million verdict handed down in favor of a group of residents against a hydraulic fracturing company they had accused of contaminating their groundwater. The judge ordered that a new trial be held if the parties are unable to reach a mutual settlement on the remaining claims in the lawsuit (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49075).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A federal magistrate judge recommended March 30 that a Delaware court ignore precedent rejecting the bare metal defense and grant judgment in favor of turbine and valve manufacturers (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Ellen Jeanene Palmer, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 14-1064, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47243).
SAN FRANCISCO - An expert's testimony that his experience with ships "like" those in question is insufficient to overcome a shipbuilder's motion for summary judgment in an asbestos case, a California appeals panel held March 30 (Richard Johnson, et al. v. Moore Dry Dock, No. A146775, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2308).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on March 31 remanded to state court a lawsuit brought against officials of the state of Michigan pertaining to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., ruling that the defendants failed to meet the requirements necessary to remove the matter to federal court (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48768).
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - A father and son who built a levee on their property to protect it from flooding were ordered by a federal judge in Illinois on March 28 to pay a $4,750 fine for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and ordered to obtain under a permit under Section 404 of the act for a portion of the levee (Quad Cities Waterkeeper Inc., et al. v. David G. Ballegeer, et al., No. 12-cv-4075-SLD-JEH, C.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45829).
AUSTIN, Texas - At some point not declaring acceptance of a settlement crosses the line into unreasonable, and asbestos plaintiffs' eight- and nine-year delay constitutes a long trip past the line, Union Carbide Corp. told the Texas Supreme Court March 28 (Union Carbide Corp. v. Perry Jones, Rosemary Allegria, et al., No. 16-0648, Texas Sup.).
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).
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on March 24 denied a dairy's motion for judgment on the pleadings after finding that a plaintiff corporation sufficiently alleged that the dairy discharged hazardous substances that are covered by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Citizens Development Corporation v. County of San Diego, et al., No. 12cv0334, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43785).
NEW ORLEANS - A panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 27 affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a chemical injury lawsuit against Iraq War contractors, concluding that the plaintiffs failed to present epidemiological evidence that meets the reliability threshold for evidence (Mark McManaway, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al. and Rocky Bixby, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al., No. 15-20641, 5th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5341).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on March 28 issued an order approving a settlement between residents of the city of Flint, Mich., and the state of Michigan, its officials and the city of Flint that calls for - among other things - an allocation of $87 million to fund continued water service-line replacements to address the city's lead-contaminated water crisis (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
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).
AUSTIN, Texas - On remand from the Texas Supreme Court, a state appellate panel on March 24 found that a tax enacted on nonparticipating manufacturers in a statewide tobacco settlement does not violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution and reversed summary judgment granted to the small tobacco companies (Glenn Hegar, et al. v. Texas Small Tobacco Coalition and Global Tobacco Inc., No. 03-13-00753-CV, Texas App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 2547).
TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Supreme Court on March 27 voted 6-1 in favor of vacating a ruling denying the state of New Jersey's motion to dismiss a contribution lawsuit brought by NL Industries Inc. under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act (Spill Act), finding that the state could raise the sovereign immunity defense for an incident that occurred before the act was enacted (NL Industries, Inc. v. State of New Jersey, No. A-44-15, N.J. Sup., 2017 N.J. LEXIS 325).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney who challenge a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. filed a petition for writ of certiorari March 27 in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that "the Second Circuit's unprecedented authorization of a preemptive collateral attack on a foreign country's money judgment warrants" the high court's intervention (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16A686, and Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16A714, U.S. Sup.).
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).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - Any delay in a retired police officer's notice of intent to file an asbestos tort action against the City of Buffalo was reasonable given the facts of the case, and no evidence suggests the municipality will suffer prejudice from the late notice, a New York appeals court held March 24 (In the Matter of James R. Diegelman, et al. v. City of Buffalo, et al., No. CA 14-01919, N.Y. App., 4th Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2279).
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia on March 23 ruled that an electric utility company violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by dumping arsenic into the groundwater but said that the remedy sought by an environmental group was "draconian." The judge also refused to find that the utility had violated its state-issued permits and prescribed "more extensive monitoring" of the site where the contamination occurred (Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric and Power Company, d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power, No. 15-112, E.D. Va.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on March 24 found that United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS) is liable and will owe damages to New York City and New York state for shipping untaxed cigarettes to unauthorized sellers (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43495).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A Maryland appeals panel on March 22 affirmed a trial court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against the Kennedy Krieger Institute Inc. (KKI) brought by the estate of a deceased man who contended that he had suffered from lead-paint poisoning as a result of participating in a lead abatement study KKI ran in the 1990s (Kimberly Smith, personal representative of the Estate of Cecil Harris III v. Kennedy Krieger Institute Inc., No. 2241, Sept. Term, 2014; 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 305).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 22 denied an underlying plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to ban an insurer and its insured from reaching a settlement for an underlying judgment awarded for personal injuries in a lead paint exposure suit (CX Reinsurance Co. Ltd., v. Benjamin L. Kirson, et al., No. 15-3132, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41230).
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.
NEW YORK - Rejecting both plaintiffs' larger proposed trial groups and concern of prejudice by defendants, a New York justice in an opinion posted March 21 found that 11 cases' similarities warranted four trial groups and two separate trials (Walter Cunningham, et al. v. Aerco Intl., et al., No. 190136/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).