ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on Jan. 22 affirmed a trial court's ruling, finding that questions of fact exist as to an alternative dispute resolution representative's ruling that a subcontractor was liable for the development of mold at a construction site (David Staviski, doing business as Chemung Valley Acoustical and Partition, v. Christa Construction Inc., et al., No. 518879, N.Y. Sup, App. Div.; 3rd Dept.; 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 597).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania Senate committee on Jan. 21 voted to recommend two bills that would amend the state's oil and gas lease act to allow royalty interest holders, such as landowners, to inspect the records of oil and gas exploration companies engaging in hydraulic fracturing to verify proper payment. The bills would also protect the royalty interest holders from retaliation from fracking companies.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Evidence that a man suffered occupational asbestos exposure and a workers' compensation court's ruling that it led to his lung cancer are sufficient grounds on which to award benefits to his widow, West Virginia's top court held Jan. 20 (Sadie Page, widow of John W. Page Jr. v. West Virginia Office of Insurance Commissioner and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 14-0108, W.Va. Sup. App.; 2015 W. Va. LEXIS 42).
HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on Jan. 21 ruled that a hydraulic fracturing joint venture failed to present evidence that an oil company with which it had a contract was liable for negligence and damages connected to alleged contamination of horizontal hydraulic fracturing wells (Texokan Operating Inc., et al. v. Hess Corporation, No. 13-02866, S.D. Texas).
COLUMBUS, Ohio. - Ohio residents who are suing E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. for personal injury and wrongful death in connection with a spill of perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C-8) on Jan. 22 moved in Ohio federal court for an order to compel the company to "immediately produce" documents that the district court has already ordered DuPont to provide in discovery (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Several asbestos plaintiffs' law firms and attorneys deny allegations by Chapter 11 debtor Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC that they schemed to defraud Garlock in tort system cases and say that complaints filed against them by Garlock should be dismissed because Garlock knew of the exposure evidence the law firms and attorneys allegedly withheld, according to answers to the complaints filed Jan. 21 in North Carolina federal court (Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC v. Waters & Kraus, LLP, et al., No. 14-130; Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC v. Belluck & Fox, LLP, et al., No. 14-118; Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC v. Shein Law Center, Ltd., et al., No. 14-137; and Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC v. Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, APLC, et al., No. 14-116; W.D. N.C.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A citizens group that bills itself as a watchdog that is dedicated to holding E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. accountable for the promises the company made to the communities that have been contaminated by perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C-8) on Jan. 22 released documents that show that DuPont has paid the law firm in charge of the medical monitoring fund more than $9.37 million, but the group argues that the fund has disbursed only $50,000.
CAMDEN, N.J. - The federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by New Jersey residents seeking $10 million in punitive damages for vinyl chloride contamination allegedly caused by the derailment of a train carrying the chemical in Paulsboro, N.J., on Jan. 20 ruled that the plaintiffs' attorney who released publicly a document obtained in discovery will not be sanctioned (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
ATLANTA - A panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 20 denied rehearing of a case in which the former residents of a military base argued that they had been injured as a result of contaminated drinking water. The panel issued a one-page order that did not elaborate on its ruling (Erica Y. Bryant, et al. v. United States of America, No. 12-15424, 11th Cir.).
NEW YORK - The presence of other contractors at a worksite, an improperly submitted sur-reply and vague references to the sale of liabilities do not warrant reargument of a decision finding a company liable for asbestos exposures during construction of the World Trade Center (WTC), a New York justice held in an opinion posted Jan. 16 (James Augustus Proctor and Joy C. Proctor v. Alcoa Inc., et al., No. 190040/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW YORK - While a contractor retained the power to enlarge the work done at a worksite, it never exercised general control over the site or specified the manner of work, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Jan. 16 (Margaret Donovan, et al. v. ACF Industries LLC, et al., No. 190110/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California federal judge on Jan. 16 entered his order partially granting a storage company's motion to dismiss claims asserted against it in relation to mold growth on coffee products that were kept in its warehouse, finding that a pallet company plausibly alleged the elements of an equitable indemnity claim (Starbucks Corporation v. Amcor Packaging Distribution, et al., No. 2:13-1754, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5746).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 20 ruled that a woman who claims that groundwater contamination caused her illnesses needed to prove her allegations despite the fact that some of the issues have been litigated already in related lawsuits. Moreover, the judge said the defendants are not estopped from arguing that they did not act deliberately in causing any contamination (Jodelle L. Kirk v. Schaeffler Group USA Inc., et al., No. 13-5032, W.D. Mo.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5954).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Plaintiffs secured a nearly $1 million asbestos verdict through improper consolidation and the type of "every exposure" testimony rejected by Pennsylvania courts, Ford argues in a Jan. 20 brief to the state's top court (Richard Rost and Joyce Rost v. Ford Motor Co., No. 56 EAP 2014, Pa. Sup.).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A Connecticut federal judge on Jan. 16 determined that because issues of material fact exist regarding whether a policy exclusion precludes coverage for bodily injury claims arising out of exposure to asbestos, summary judgment against the insurer is not warranted (New England Reinsurance Corp. v. Ferguson Enterprises Inc., et al., No. 12-948, D. Conn.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5397).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. on Jan. 19 filed a brief in Ohio federal court supporting its motion to compel discovery in two cases brought as part of the larger, consolidated litigation related to allegations brought by Ohio residents who contend that the company is liable for wrongful death and other injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
CINCINNATI - The date a settlement agreement between the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and 58 potentially responsible parties (PRPs) for contamination at a Superfund site in Kentucky became effective in March 2007 began the three-year limitations period for a plaintiff group's claim for contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 14 in reversing a federal judge's denial of defendants' motion to dismiss (LWD PRP Group v. Alcan Corp., et al., No. 14-5730, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 748).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 20 denied a request to review a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling affirming the dismissal of a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit filed by plaintiffs who argued that the appeals court erred in finding that a settlement agreement the parties entered into with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency barred the claim (Hobart Corporation, et al. v. Waste Management of Ohio Inc., No. 14-575, U.S. Sup.).
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - A New Jersey jury on Jan. 14 added $1 million in punitive damages to a $6.5 million award it gave to a couple for the man's exposure to asbestos in the heating and cooling industry, sources told Mealey Publications (William and Debbie Condon v. Advanced Thermal Hydronics, et al., No. MID-L-5695-13AS, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. on Jan. 15 removed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia a lawsuit filed by a resident who seeks damages for injuries she allegedly suffered as a result of exposure to chemicals from the company's plant in Wood County, W.Va. (Janis Cheryl Lyons v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, No. 15-00666, S.D. W.Va.).
NEW YORK - The attorney representing a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for personal injuries caused by the company's oil operations in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador filed a second reply brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 13 in his appeal of a fraud judgment against him, arguing that it is Chevron's burden to show it has standing to seek its requested relief for the alleged fraud and that the attorney does not have the burden to establish mootness (Chevron Corporation v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 14-826, 2nd Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill on Jan. 15 concluded that 3.1 million barrels of oil leaked into the Gulf of Mexico and that BP Exploration & Production Inc. could face up to $13.7 billion in penalties for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
CHICAGO - An insured named in numerous underlying suits alleging injuries arising out of exposure to asbestos, benzene and other harmful materials is entitled to a defense in the cases in which it is alleged to have been directly liable even if the underlying allegations are groundless, the Second Division of the First District Illinois Appellate Court said Jan. 13 (Illinois Tool Works Inc. et al. v. Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. et al., No. 1-13-2350, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2nd Div.; 2015 Ill. App. LEXIS 18).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal magistrate judge in the multidistrict litigation for lawsuits arising from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 told counsel in an order entered Jan. 12 in Louisiana federal court to stop sending him unsolicited emails (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
TRENTON, N.J. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several companies on Jan. 13 entered a consent decree in New Jersey federal court in which the companies agreed to spend nearly $92 million to remediate trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination at the Pohatcong Valley Groundwater Contamination Superfund site in Warren County, N.J. (United States of America v. Pechiney Plastic Packaging Inc., et al., No. 09-5692; United States of America v. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, et al., No. 13-5798, D. N.J.).