NEWARK, N.J. - A judge's sister's access and control over company documents while employed by a defendant require that the judge recuse herself from a case alleging asbestos contamination of talc and spoliation of evidence, the company claims in an Oct. 10 memorandum (Audrey Sampson, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. MID-L-5384-11AS, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeal on Oct. 11 affirmed a judge's decision to read a jury instruction in a tobacco trial after finding that there was not enough evidence to show that the instruction prejudiced a tobacco company (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Colette S. O'Hara, No. 1D15-5764, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 14233).
NEW YORK - An appeals court should vacate a provision of the new case management order allowing for punitive damages in asbestos cases and vacate or amend a provision governing how asbestos bankruptcy trust claims are handled, an amicus curiae group told the court on Oct. 10 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All Asbestos Cases., No. 40000/1988 782000/2017, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A hydraulic fracturing company on Oct. 9 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court arguing that the company that made a lithium battery pack that exploded on a fracking rig and injured a worker has a direct duty under Oklahoma law to indemnify the fracking operator because the explosion was caused by an allegedly defective design (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
MIAMI - The Florida Supreme Court should resolve a conflict in the state's appellate courts and firmly reject the discredited "cumulative exposure" asbestos causation theory, a shipyard argues in an Oct. 9 petition (Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., et al. v. Rosa-Maria Britt, et al., No. SC17-1780, Fla. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES - A California judge overseeing the first asbestos-tainted consumer talc case against Johnson & Johnson declared a mistrial Oct. 10 after the plaintiff made reference to the potential link between asbestos-free talc and ovarian cancer, sources told Mealey Publications (Tina Herford, et al. v. AT&T Corp., et al., No. BC646315, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on Oct. 6 moved in California federal court for dismissal of the multidistrict litigation related to the herbicide Roundup on grounds that the plaintiffs have not satisfied their burden to present expert testimony that is "scientifically reliable and relevant" and that is sufficient to prove general causation concerning whether glyphosate - the active ingredient in Roundup - is capable of causing cancer (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 10 announced that Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was unveiled by President Barack Obama in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.
CINCINNATI - An attorney representing employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Oct. 6 argued before a panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals that a lawsuit pertaining to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., brought against the employees belongs in federal court (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 17-1401, 6th Cir.).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - A company unable to escape what it portrays as a "shotgun" asbestos complaint at the motion to dismiss stage has not shown that an interlocutory appeal is warranted or that it would help forward the litigation, a federal judge in North Carolina held Oct. 5 (Tommy Lineberger, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 16-390, W.D. N.C.).
LOS ANGELES - Attorneys representing parties to the first asbestos-tainted talc case against Johnson & Johnson presented opening arguments Oct. 5 in the Los Angeles County Superior Court, arguing over what the testing says about the source of the talc used in the company's products and alternative sources of a woman's mesothelioma (Tina Herford, et al. v. AT&T Corp., et al., No. BC646315, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
NEW YORK - A manufacturer of brake-grinding machines had a duty to warn about the dangers the use of its machines with asbestos-containing brakes posed, a New York appellate court held Oct. 5 while also affirming a stipulated $9 million award (Walter Miller v. BMW of North America LLC, et al., No. 190087/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A federal judge in California erred when finding that the federal government does not have to contribute toward the cleanup of a 44-acre site used by a military contractor hired to manufacture aircraft and aircraft parts, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 4, holding that the judge misapplied two earlier rulings that addressed how cleanup costs between military contractors and the government (TDY Holdings, LLC v. United States of America, No. 15-56483, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19371).
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - Merely knowing of the presence of asbestos and its hazards is not enough to escape the state's workers' compensation exclusivity provision, a federal judge in North Carolina held Sept. 29 (Howard Milton Moore Jr., et al. v. Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc., et al., No. 16-157, W.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162517).
DETROIT - A putative class of residents and other individuals affected by the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city of Flint, Mich., on Sept. 29 filed a consolidated class action in Michigan federal court, contending that multiple state and local authorities caused a public health crisis by exposing the plaintiffs to contaminated water and exacerbated the crisis by concealing and misrepresenting its scope (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
PHILADELPHIA - The bare-metal defense does not bar asbestos negligence actions under maritime law's "bedrock principle" of protecting sailors, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Oct. 3 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation [No. VI], Roberta G. DeVries, et al. v. Buffalo Pumps Inc., et al., No. 16-2602, Shirley McAfee, et al. v. Ingersoll-Rand & Co., No. 16-2669, 3rd Cir.).
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - A federal judge in North Carolina on Sept. 28 partially granted and partially denied a tobacco producer's motion to dismiss counterclaims of fraud and unfair and deceptive trade practices after finding that the man who filed the counterclaims did not allege sufficient facts to support those claims (Independent Warehouse v. Samuel Kim, No. 4:17-cv-49, E.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162630).
NEW ORLEANS - A defendant's quick removal of an asbestos action precludes consideration of the forum of any unserved defendants, but is not the type of "snap removal" that is objectionable and absurd, a federal judge in Louisiana held Sept. 29 in denying remand (Margaret Leech, et la. V. 3M Co., et al., No. 17-446, E.D. La.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 2 declined to hear arguments on an Engle progeny suit in which a Florida appellate panel vacated $54 million in punitive damages (Marvine Calloway v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 16-1507, U.S. Sup.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on Sept. 29 rejected a motion seeking reargument and declined a man's request for leave to further appeal a decision that a contract governing the construction of coke oven batteries involves materials, work and labor rather than a product for product liability purposes (In the matter of the Eighth Judicial District Asbestos Litigation, Donald J. Terwilliger, et al. v. Beazer East Inc., et al., No. 85 CA 16-00947, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 4th Dist., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6836).
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Sept. 29 partially dismissed a lead-paint injury lawsuit, ruling that a city housing authority and some paint industry defendants were not liable, but that some claims remained against E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. (Lashawnda Walker v. City of East Chicago, Ind., et al., No. 16-367, N.D. Ind.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 160729).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PGE) on Sept. 27 moved to compel one of the plaintiffs in a chemical injury and groundwater contamination lawsuit against company to appear for an oral deposition, contending that the woman is obligated to be present and faces sanctions for having failed to attend at her initial deposition without first obtaining a protective order (Barbara A. Vinson v. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, No. 16-514, C.D. Calif.).
PHILADELPHIA - In response to an insurer's breach of contract counterclaims, a reinsurer on Sept. 27 filed an amended answer in a Pennsylvania federal court, asserting a statute of limitations defense and that it did not agree to reinsure an excess umbrella policy (R&Q Reinsurance Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., No. 16-1473, E.D. Pa.).
TULSA, Okla. - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Sept. 26 approved a consent decree in which two companies will pay a combined $10,323,727 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Oklahoma for remediation costs associated with lead and zinc contamination of soil and groundwater (United States of America, et al. v. Doe Run Resources Corporation, et al., No. 15-CV-0663-CVE-TLW, N.D. Okla.; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 157505).
CHICAGO - A magistrate judge in an Illinois federal court on Sept. 27 ordered a tobacco company to produce documents regarding the design of its rolling papers that are in the possession of one of its French subsidiaries in a trademark infringement countersuit after finding that French law does not entirely preempt the company making those documents available for discovery (Republic Technologies LLC, et al. v. BBK Tobacco & Foods LLP, No. 16 3401, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 158986).