PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on May 21 ruled that a group of Pennsylvania residents had a valid negligence claim against the makers of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) related to groundwater contamination, but the judge said the plaintiffs did not sufficiently plead property damage (Larry Menkes, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 17-0573, E.D. Pa.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85113).
NEW ORLEANS - A shipyard on May 21 filed a notice of appeal in yet another case in which a judge remanded an asbestos action after finding allegations of negligent failure to warn about the presence of asbestos outside the federal officer removal statute (James A. Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 17-11770, E.D. La.).
NEW ORLEANS - A company's shell-dredging operations in Louisiana in 1973 keep a company in an asbestos action, a federal judge held May 18 in declining to impose a temporal limitation to the specific jurisdiction analysis (Robert Schindler v. Dravo Basic Materials Company Inc., No. 17-013013, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83922).
LOS ANGELES - A federal jury in California on May 17 issued a take-nothing judgment in favor of a chemical company that had been sued by the city of Pomona, Calif., which alleged that the company was liable for contaminating the city's drinking water with perchlorate (Pomona v. SQM North America Corporation, No. 11-167, C.D. Calif.).
NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. - Asserting violations of the New Jersey Product Liability Act (NJPLA), negligence and other torts, a New Jersey man who suffered burns when his vaping device exploded in the pockets of his pants filed suit in the Middlesex County Superior Court on May 18 (Jesse Kelly, Jr. v. I South Vape LLC, et al., No. MID-L-003092-18, N.J .Super., Middlesex Co.).
CHICAGO - The absence of evidence of General Electric Co.'s asbestos-containing products in Illinois defeats specific personal jurisdiction, and the company's contacts with the state are not large enough to create general personal jurisdiction, a state appeals court held May 18 while declining to adopt jurisdiction by necessity (Arlin Campbell, et al. v. Acme Insulation Inc., et al., No. 1-17-3051, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Ill. App. LEXIS 294).
SALT LAKE CITY - A Utah appeals court panel on May 17 overturned two rulings by a lower court judge that excluded evidence and testimony about what materials are subject to cleanup as part of a city's sale of a parcel of land to a developer, holding that the trial court judge misapplied an earlier appeals court ruling in the case, as well as the Utah Rules of Evidence (Northgate Village Development LLC v. Orem City, No. 20160408-CA, Utah App., 2019 Utah App. LEXIS 98).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal appeals court panel in the District of Columbia on May 18 vacated a ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that placed an Indianapolis site on the National Priorities List (NPL) after finding that the agency ignored evidence and erroneously determined that two aquifers were connected (Genuine Parts Co. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1416, 16-1418, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12901).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 21 upheld a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling finding that the failure to submit claim forms along with the required documentation to obtain compensation from the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) rendered the claims untimely (In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30544, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 21 refused to hear an appeal of a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a group of residents who contended that a lower court erred when it held that the U.S. Army's waste disposal and remediation practices at Fort Detrick fall squarely within the discretionary function exception to the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) (Angela Pieper v. United States, No. 17-1324, U.S. Sup.).
BOSTON - The city of Westfield, Mass., on May 18 filed a brief in Massachusetts federal court contending that a motion to dismiss filed by 3M Co. and other companies related to groundwater contamination from the manufacture and use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) should be rejected because the claim is not barred by the statute of limitations (City of Westfield, Massachusetts v. 3M, et al., No. 18-30027, D. Mass.).
LAKELAND, Fla. - In a May 18 per curiam ruling, the Second District Florida Court of Appeal left intact an $8 million award rendered by jurors in May 2016 on behalf of the family of a deceased smoker, just over one week after hearing oral arguments in the Engle progeny case (James C. McCabe v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2D17-797, Fla. App. 2nd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 6947).
MIAMI - In a May 15 order, a Florida state court judge granted a plaintiff leave to amend his Engle progeny complaint in order to add a claim for punitive damages against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., rejecting the tobacco companies' assertion that such an amendment would be premature (Michael Jordan Lipp, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-018509-CA-10, Fla. 11th Jud Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).
NEW YORK - A New York state appeals court on May 15 affirmed a trial court's denial of summary judgment in a lead exposure lawsuit, saying the record demonstrates that lead abatement did not begin until after the plaintiff was diagnosed with high blood-lead levels (Christopher Brown v. Wendy Webb-Weber, et al., Nos. 159252/14 and 595628/16, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3446).
LOS ANGELES - Factually devoid discovery responses and questionable chain of custody over allegedly asbestos-tainted talc samples sinks a man's case, a California appeals court affirmed May 16 (John Wittman v. Coty Inc., No. B286135, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
NEW ORLEANS - Technical deficiencies in a complaint are not evidence of improper joinder, and a woman will need discovery to flesh out her claims against a retailer she claims sold asbestos-tainted talc, a federal judge in Louisiana held in finding joinder proper and remanding the case on May 17 (Marilyn Rousseau v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 18-2922, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83230).
OLYMPIA, Wash. - A 7-2 Washington Supreme Court on May 17 found that emails between a county and the Washington Department of Ecology were protected from disclosure under the Public Records Act (PRA) because they were work product and because the sharing of the information between the parties did not constitute a waiver of that privilege (Kittitas County v. Sky Allphin, et al., No. 93562-9, Wash. Sup., 2018 Wash. Sup., 2018 Wash. LEXIS 336).
SANTA CLARA, Calif. - Former lead paint manufacturer NL Industries Inc. has agreed to pay $60.18 million to 11 California counties and municipalities for lead paint remediation, according to a May 16 press release from Santa Clara County (County of Santa Clara, et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Company, et al., No. 1-00-CV-788657, Calif. Super., Santa Clara Co.).
ATLANTA - A Florida federal court did not abuse its discretion in excluding an expert's opinion that pollution from a fertilizer factory caused or worsened a woman's pulmonary diseases, and then awarding the factory judgment for lack of expert causation evidence, because the court correctly found that the expert's "methodology was undermined by multiple defects," the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 14 (Rhonda Williams v. Mosaic Fertilizer, LLC, No. 17-10894, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12478).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - In a May 14 jurisdictional brief, an appellant tells the Florida Supreme Court that he was erroneously denied an opportunity to file an amended complaint against two tobacco companies after the trial court deemed the case a legal nullity, upon learning that the original named plaintiff died before her complaint could be filed (Raymond Staines v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc., No. SC18-628, Fla. Sup.).
NEW YORK - Similar types of products at the heart of two men's asbestos exposures are not enough to overcome different vectors of exposure and diseases, a New York justice held in denying consolidated trial in an opinion posted May 15 (Joseph Montebianco, et al. v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., No. 190185/15, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
WAUSAU, Wis. - A Wisconsin statute governing fraudulent transfer of assets does not alter the fraudulent transfer exception analysis to the general rule against successor liability, a majority of the state's Supreme Court held May 15 (Penny L. Springer v. Nohl Electric Products Corp., et al., No. 2015AP829, Wis. Sup.).
BALTIMORE - An illogical $5 million asbestos verdict finding defendants liable for negligently failing to warn but not the lower standard of strict liability failure to warn likely arose from jury instruction error and warrants a new trial, a Maryland appeals court held May 11 (Mack Trucks Inc., et al. v. Christopher Coates Sr., No. 2706 September Term 2016, Md. Sp. App.).
BOSTON - A federal judge on May 14 filed a certified question to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, asking whether the state's six-year statute of repose applies to an asbestos case, creating absolute immunity for a turbine generator manufacturer (June Stearns, et al. v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-13490, D. Mass.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a 70-page summary judgment issued May 15, a District of Columbia federal judge confirmed as constitutional the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's May 2016 "Deeming" and "User Fee" Rules, finding only one provision relating to in-store blending of pipe tobacco in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA) (Cigar Association of America Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 16-1460, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 81101).