BALTIMORE - Union Carbide Corp.'s duty to prevent asbestos exposures extended to household members of individuals visiting worksites where its asbestos was present, a Maryland federal judge held Sept. 16 (Melvin F. Sherin, et al. v. John Crane-Houdaille Inc., et al., No. 11-3698, D. Md.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130702).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 16 held that a federal judge in Idaho did not err when approving a settlement that required a company to pay the government $350,000 in response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because he properly considered the company's ability to pay (United States of America v. Coeur D'Alenes Company, No. 12-36065, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 17923).
NEW ORLEANS - A 2-1 panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 18 upheld a Texas federal judge's ruling allowing the Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) to serve the owner of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig with five administrative subpoenas as part of its investigation into the rig's explosion in April 2010, holding that the CSB had the authority to conduct its investigation (United States of America v. Transocean Deepwater Drilling Inc., No. 13-20243, 5th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 17936).
SEATTLE - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Sept. 18 that Kronos Micronutrients, a fertilizer manufacturer in Moxee, Wash., agreed to pay $206,900 in civil penalties over its storage of hazardous waste materials at its facility.
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 17 ruled that a group that held royalties on oil and gas deposits had not honored the right-of-first-refusal provision in a contract with an energy company when they negotiated a separate contract with another hydraulic fracturing company (U.S. Energy Development Corporation v. L.E. Mallory, et al., No. 12-235, W.D. Pa.).
WHEELING, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on Sept. 17 refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by 12 energy companies against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy, ruling that the court has jurisdiction over the suit (Murray Energy Corporation, et al. v. Gina McCarthy, No. 14-CV-39, N.D. W.Va.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129196).
SEATTLE - Ordering employees into an asbestos-contaminated workspace did not trigger the deliberate intent exception to workers' compensation laws because the employer could not be certain any individual employee would develop a disease, the Washington Supreme Court held Sept. 18 in a 5-4 opinion (Gary G. Walston and Donna Walston v. The Boeing Co., No. 885117, Wash. Sup.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge on Sept. 17 partially granted a subcontractor's motion for summary judgment, finding that a contractor's negligence claim in relation to allegedly defective work on a condominium development that resulted in mold growth was properly asserted under an exception to the economic loss rule (In re New Bern Development LLC, debtor New Bern Riverfront Development v. Weaver Cooke Construction LLC, et al., No. 10-00023-8, E.D. N.C. Bkcy.; 2014 Bankr. LEXIS 3968).
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on Sept. 17 agreed to amend rulings against Elk Run Coal Co. and Alex Energy Inc. in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit so the companies could appeal the decisions, explaining that the orders contained controlling issues of law (Ohio Valley Environmental coalition, et al. v. Elk Run Coal Company, No. 12-0785, S.D. W.Va.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130123).
GREENSBORO, N.C. - A federal judge in North Carolina on Sept. 17 denied Duke Energy Corp.'s motion to file a supplemental motion for summary judgment on a statute-of-limitations issue, finding that there is no new evidence or controlling case law to support the company's argument that the government's Clean Air Act (CAA) claim against it is untimely (United States of America, et al. v. Duke Energy Corporation, No. 00CV1262, M.D. N.C.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129805).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A Pennsylvania legislator on Sept. 15 introduced a bill in the state House of Representatives that would create a health registry for the collection of data associated with unconventional gas well drilling, commonly referred to as hydraulic fracturing.
BALTIMORE - After finding that claims for violation of the Truth In Lending Act (TILA) were untimely and claims for negligence related to mold growth at a property failed, a Maryland federal judge on Sept. 16 refused to grant a request by property owners to file an amended complaint and granted a motion to dismiss the case (Alan D. Heaney, et al. v. Quicken Loans Inc., et al., No. 14-1002, D. Md.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129071).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A collection of Pennsylvania environmental groups on Sept. 15 filed an appeal with the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board (EHB), opposing the EHB's decision to grant two hydraulic fracturing companies permits authorizing research and development activities to support the beneficial use, or processing prior to beneficial use, of drill cuttings for stabilized soil pavement (The Delaware Riverkeeper Network, et al. v. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, No. N/A, EHB).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge on Sept. 16 granted an insurer's motion for summary judgment on an insured's claims pertaining to water damage, mold damage and living expenses but denied the motion on the insured's claims pertaining to reimbursement for water damage to personal property on the basis that issues of material fact exist (Victoria Cento v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. 12-85, E.D. Mo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129234).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 16 affirmed a decision to deny disability benefits to a woman who claimed that the migraines she experienced when exposed to electromagnetic fields prevented her from maintaining steady employment on grounds that there were various other jobs she could perform without difficulty (Lori Dunleavy v. Carolyn Colvin, No. 13-2060, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128939).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over the methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) products liability litigation on Sept. 16 granted summary judgment to a group of companies on grounds that a settlement that had been reached between the Orange County District Attorney's Office in California also applied to claims that were later asserted by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, Case No. 00-1898; Orange County Water District v. Unocal Corp., et al., No. 04 Civ. 4968, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS - A group of plaintiffs who sued ExxonMobil Corp. and won compensatory and punitive damages for exposure to naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) at a pipe maintenance yard on Sept. 15 filed a brief arguing that the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana should remand the case to state court because the "window of removeability" cannot be reopened by a nonparty to the litigation (Warren Lester, et al. v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 14-01824, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - The statute of limitations bars personal injury claims filed more than three years after a man's asbestos-related death, but the widow may amend her action to file a still timely wrongful death claim, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Sept. 12 (Margaret M. Pisani, individually and as personal representative of the estate of Salvatore Pisani v. Ace Hardware Corp., et al., No. 190062/14, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW YORK - A corporate successor to a claimant's former parent company is liable under a veil-piercing theory for a portion of costs incurred in cleaning up coal tar contamination at manufactured gas plant sites in upstate New York, and the claimant's recovery should be reduced to account for payments made on its behalf by its insurers, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Sept. 11 (New York State Electric and Gas Corp. v. FirstEnergy Corp., Nos. 11-4143, 11-4146, 11-4149, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 17579).
DALLAS - The Texas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Sept. 16 regarding whether BP Exploration & Production and its affiliates are covered as additional insureds for damages arising out of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 13-0670, Texas Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A study scheduled to be published in the forthcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and made available online Sept. 15 found that, with regard to hydraulic fracturing, when fugitive gas contamination occurs, well integrity problems are most likely associated with casing or cementing issues. The data do not support a finding that fracking "has provided a conduit" to connect deep Marcellus Shale or Barnett Shale formations directly to surface aquifers.
JACKSON, Miss. - After finding that a plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies in relation to claims that a detention center contained mold and other hazardous conditions, a Mississippi federal judge on Sept. 15 dismissed his complaint (David Barney Jr. v. Tyrone Lewis, et al., No. 3:13-cv-611, S.D. Miss.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128775).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on Sept. 12 denied asbestos defendant Hennessey Industries Inc.'s motion for summary judgment, finding the "general citation to overarching principles" in choice-of-law briefing insufficient (John New and Beth New v. Borg-Warner Corp., et al., No. 13-675, W.D. Mo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127861).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company that purchases royalties and mineral rights for oil and gas exploration through hydraulic fracturing on Sept. 12 filed an amended class action complaint against a group of energy companies for allegedly underpaying royalties to the owners of mineral rights who leased property to be used for oil and gas production (Chieftain Royalty Company v. SM Energy Company, et al., No. 11-177, W.D. Okla.).
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. on Sept. 15 reached a consent agreement under which the company will pay civil fines of more than $1.85 million for injuries that were reportedly caused by the mislabeling of a pesticide that was misused as a broadleaf herbicide (In Re: E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, No. FIFRA 03-2014-0217, U.S. EPA, Region III).