NEW YORK - A New York justice acted within her powers in amending an asbestos case management order (CMO) to allow for punitive damages, but the ruling violates due process protections by charging the jury at the conclusion of the evidentiary phase, improperly leaving defendants guessing about whether such damages will be sought, a state appeals court held July 9 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All NYCAL Cases against A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., Crane Co., et al., Nos. 15678, 15677, 15676, 15675 N.Y. Sup. App. Div., 1st Dept.).
ATLANTA - A commercial general labiality insurance policy's "damage to property" exclusions do not preclude coverage for claims of an insured's alleged negligent installation, a Georgia appeals panel ruled July 8; however, the panel affirmed that a fungi exclusion bars coverage for the ensuing mold damage (Michael Dolan, et al. v. Auto Owners Insurance Co., No. A15A0384, Ga. App., 3rd Div.; 2015 Ga. App. LEXIS 421).
RICHMOND, Va. - A premises owner on July 6 appealed a federal judge's ruling finding no evidence its work building ships thousands of miles from active hostilities constituted combat activities or that the government prevented it from warning invitees about the hazards of asbestos (Charles B. Brinkman and Louise K. Brinkman v. John Crane Inc., et al., No. 14-142, E.D. Va.).
NEW YORK - A New York justice handed plaintiffs 60 days to stipulate to the reduction of a $190 million asbestos verdict, saying in an opinion posted July 7 that a pending appellate case could assist both parties (Santo Assenzio v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Robert Brunck v A.O. Smith Water Products, Paul Levy v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Cesar Serna v A.O. Smith Water Products, Raymond Vincent v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Nos. 190008/12, 190026/12, 190200/12, 190183/12, 190184/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 8 affirmed a man's conviction for violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) for storing barrels of hazardous waste without a permit, rejecting the man's argument that the evidence presented at trial showed that he was actually disposing of waste as a result of leaking containers (United States of America v. Robert Roach, No. 14-50260, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11755).
NEWARK, N.J. - A mechanic's testimony regarding work on airplane engines, combined with evidence that asbestos-containing seals contaminated engine compartments as they broke down, overcome summary judgment, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held in reinstating a man's case July 7 (Susan Haas, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. 14-3442, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11668).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on July 7 denied Taylor Energy Co. LLC's second attempt to dismiss a Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lawsuit brought by three environmental groups over an alleged underwater oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, ruling that there are enough genuine issues of fact as to whether the groups have standing to pursue their claims (Apalachicola Riverkeeper v. Taylor Energy Company LLC, No. 12-337, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87857).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Co-worker testimony placing a man in the vicinity of a company's asbestos-containing insulation, while circumstantial, overcomes summary judgment, a federal judge in Illinois held July 1 (Gerald D. McAlvey v. Atlas Copco Compressors LLC, et al., No. 14-64, S.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85844).
LOS ANGELES - Commercial fisherman, fish buyers and owners of three businesses adversely affected by the May 19, 2015, rupture of Plains All American Pipeline LLC's Line 901, which discharged more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil onto the beaches of Refugio State Beach in Santa Barbara, Calif., and into the Pacific Ocean, filed a class action lawsuit against the company July 1 in California federal court, claiming that it negligently operated the 10-mile, 24-inch wide pipeline (Keith Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline L.P., No. 15-cv-4989, C.D. Calif.).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri jury on July 2 awarded a widow $11.5 million for her husband's death from mesothelioma, including $10 million in punitive damages, in a case alleging exposure to asbestos in gaskets and packing on Crane Co. valves, sources told Mealey Publications (Jeanette G. Poage, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. 1322-cc00059, Mo. Cir., 22nd Judicial Cir.).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - Registering and operating businesses are insufficient to create "all-purpose" jurisdiction in Illinois, a federal judge said July 1 in dismissing three defendants from an asbestos action (Dennis Rozumek v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 15-441, S.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85778).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Tennessee court on June 30 rejected a railroad's challenges to asbestos causation experts and evidence and affirmed a $3,335,685 judgment (Linda J. Russell, et al. v. Illinois Central Railroad Co., No. W2013-02453-COA-R3-CV, Tenn. App.; 2015 Tenn. App. LEXIS 520).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The Maryland Court of Special Appeals on July 2 reversed and remanded a lead-based paint injury lawsuit, concluding that there was ample evidence to establish causation such that the case should not have been dismissed on summary judgment (Myishia Smith v. Rowhouses Inc., No. 993, Sept. Term, 2014; 2015 Md. App. LEXIS 85).
CINCINNATI - A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 1 affirmed a ruling of an Ohio federal court and determined that two parties engaged in a contract dispute pertaining to their responsibilities stemming from a groundwater contamination lawsuit were liable to pay their own costs in the litigation (Warren Drilling Co. Inc. v. Equitable Production Co., No. 15-0483, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11530).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - A federal magistrate judge in New York on July 2 granted in part a motion to compel filed by a defendant company in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit seeking production of emails between the plaintiff company and an environmental engineering firm, ruling that some information was not protected from disclosure by the attorney-client privilege (NL Industries v. ACF Industries, et al., No. 10cv89, W.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86677).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A group of chemical companies being sued by a farm trust that alleges that the companies have contaminated the trust's property with volatile organic compounds on July 1 filed a brief in Florida federal court arguing that the plaintiffs' second amended complaint should be dismissed for failure to state a claim pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure (FRCP) 12(b)(6) (Noel D. Clark Jr., et al. v. Ashland Inc., No. 13-794, M.D. Fla.).
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 1 revived a lawsuit brought by a number of Maryland residents against the city of Baltimore and the developers of the Horseshoe Casino, ruling that a federal judge erred when dismissing their claims under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) (Bruce Goldfarb, et al. v. Mayor and City Council of Baltimore, et al., No. 14-1825, 4th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 11320).
NEW YORK - The Commonwealth of Puerto Rico on June 30 moved in New York federal court for reconsideration of the court's opinion that dismissed some of the commonwealth's claims, arguing that the ruling constitutes "manifest injustice" and that evidence was "overlooked" (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, No. 00-1898, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Shell Oil Co., et al., No. 07 Civ. 10470, S.D. N.Y.).
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A judge's post-verdict jury instruction regarding the Federal Employer Liability Act (FELA)'s bar on contributory negligence requires a new trial on the issue of damages in an asbestos case, Tennessee's top court held July 1 in largely upholding the verdict (Anne Payne v. CSX Transportation Inc., No. 223107, Tenn. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - BP Exploration & Production Inc. will pay $18.7 billion over the course of 18 years to resolve Clean Water Act (CWA) and natural resource damages claims from the federal government and states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, the company announced today (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On remand, a veterans appeals board must explain how it reconciled conflicting evidence in denying a former laundryman's asbestos exposure claim, an appeals court judge held June 29 (Carolyn Morrison v. Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, No. 13-3474, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 873).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An appeals board provided inadequate support for denying a veteran's claim that asbestos exposure led him to contract throat cancer, an appeals court judge held June 30 (James R. Kowalew v. Robert A. McDonald, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, No. 14-0869, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 892).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A third-party defendant in a lawsuit brought by two men who contend that they were injured when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an answer June 30 denying the allegations and contending that its product either was not the product at issue in the lawsuit, or the product was misused after it was manufactured (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.)
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on June 30 dismissed a former inmate's civil rights action which claimed a prison's drinking water was contaminated. The judge said that the plaintiff failed to state a claim (Rhea Michelle Walker v. Camp Brighton Prison, No. 15-12153, E.D. Mich.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84529).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 30 ruled that a former BP Exploration & Production Inc. engineer who was convicted of one count of obstruction of justice for deleting text messages and emails related to the calculations of the amount of oil spilling out of the Macondo well following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 is entitled to a new trial, ruling that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when finding that the jury foreperson was exposed to prejudicial extrinsic evidence (United States of America v. Kurt Mix, No. 14-30837, 5th Cir.).