LEXINGTON, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on Dec. 28 dismissed with prejudice a claim brought by two environmental groups contending that Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU) is violating the Clean Water Act by allowing storm water containing pollutants from its coal-ash settlement ponds to migrate into a navigable waterway, holding that the discharges are not subject to the act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements (Kentucky Waterways Alliance, et al. v. Kentucky Utilities Co., No. 17-cv-292-DCR, E.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212329).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The revised plan of reorganization for Chapter 11 debtor Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH) cannot be confirmed because its treatment of claimants who have not yet developed an asbestos disease is unlawful and it was proposed in bad faith, eight asbestos personal injury claimants tell the Delaware federal bankruptcy court in a Dec. 19 objection to the plan (In re Energy Future Holdings Corp., et al., No. 14-10979, D. Del. Bkcy.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A collection of environmental advocacy groups on Dec. 19 filed a lawsuit in California federal court against Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and two federal agencies contending that they are violating federal law with regard to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) final decision to amend the compliance deadlines for what is known as the methane waste prevention rule (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed a district court's ruling that a disability claimant's suit is barred under Louisiana's applicable one-year statute of limitations because the suit was not filed within a year after the claimant requested plan documents from the plan administrator (Todd M. Babin v. Quality Energy Services Inc., No. 17-30059, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25275).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The National Labor Relations Board, in a 3-2 decision issued Dec. 15, overruled E.I. du Pont de Nemours, 364 NLRB No. 113 (2016) (DuPont), calling the majority opinion "fundamentally flawed" and holding that an employer's modification of unit employee health care benefits following the expiration of a collective bargaining agreement (CBA) was simply a continuation of past practice and not a "change" requiring notice to the union and an opportunity to bargain (Raytheon Network Centric Systems and United Steel, Paper & Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial & Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, No. 25-CA-092145, NLRB).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Residents who argue that Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) is liable for contaminating their drinking water supply with perchlorate on Dec. 6 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court contending that HESI should be compelled to produce documents and other information (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Parties in a securities class action lawsuit against a company that sells renewable energy and certain of its executive officers asked a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 4 to determine whether a federal district court erred in dismissing the action for failure to plead scienter under a holistic approach (James Webb v. SolarCity Corp., et al., No. 16-16440, 9th Cir.).
RICHMOND, Va. - The lead plaintiff in a securities class action lawsuit against an energy provider and its CEO asked the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 29 to rehear its appeal of a federal district court's dismissal of its amended complaint for failure to plead scienter, claiming that the panel's opinion affirming the lower court's ruling is in conflict with U.S. Supreme Court and Fourth Circuit precedent (Maguire Financial LP, et al. v. PowerSecure International Inc., et al., No. 16-2163, 4th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a case that could upend the landscape for patent litigants globally, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Nov. 27 in a dispute over the constitutionality of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO's) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene's Energy Group LLC, No. 16-712, U.S. Sup.).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Hydraulic fracturing companies on Nov. 16 filed a brief in Arkansas federal court contending that residents who have sued them alleging property damage as a result of the companies' disposal of fracking waste "consistently take liberty with the facts to add more baseless sanctions noise to this case" (Bobbie Hill, et al. v. Southwestern Energy Co., No. 12-500, E.D. Ark.).
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Nov. 17 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to deny dismissal of a lawsuit brought by three environmental groups over discharges from a nuclear power plant's facility, holding that the groups have standing to bring their suit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, et al. v. Florida Power & Light Company, No. 16-23017-CIV-GAYLES/OTAZA-REYES, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190504).
RICHMOND, Va. - Shareholders in a securities class action lawsuit against an energy provider and its CEO have failed to show that the CEO acted with the requisite scienter in misrepresenting to investors that the company had secured a contract renewal with a large customer because they have not shown that he knew his statements were misleading at the time he made them, a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Nov. 15 in affirming a federal judge's dismissal of the action (Maguire Financial LP, et al. v. PowerSecure International Inc., et al., No. 16-2163, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22968).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal judge on Nov. 14 granted a Bulgarian machine-building company's petition to confirm a $2,119,167.79 international arbitral award issued against a California company, finding that enforcement of the award was not against public policy (TMCO Ltd. v. Green Light Energy Solutions R&D Corp., No. 4:17-cv-00997, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188362).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana on Nov. 3 denied Louisiana Generating LLC's motion for a more definite statement, finding that two nonprofit energy cooperative corporations sufficiently stated claims that the defendant company may have violated power supply and service agreements by charging them for costs associated with the remediation of environmental conditions at the Big Cajun II generating plant (Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative, Inc., et al. v. Louisiana Generating, LLC, No. 17-405-JJB-RLB, M.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182387).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) anti-duplication provision does not preclude the statute's application to discharges of storm water from an energy company that also allegedly violate the Clean Water Act (CWA), a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Nov. 2 (Ecological Rights Foundation v. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, No. 15-15424, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 21597).
DENVER - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 31 announced that the federal government, state of Colorado and PDC Energy Inc. reached an agreement in Colorado federal court, wherein the company would spend $22.2 million to resolve allegations that its emissions contained excessive levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that violated the Clean Air Act (United States of America, et al. v. PDC Energy, Inc., No. 17-1552, D. Colo.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The state of North Dakota on Oct. 26 filed a notice of supplemental authority in District of Columbia federal court contending that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued documents that "represent a significant change" regarding litigation pertaining to the nondiscretionary duty under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to review and, if necessary, revise regulations for wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-5010, D.C. Cir.).
CHICAGO - A defendant who sold counterfeit "Monster Energy" products online was ordered by an Illinois federal judge on Oct. 23 to pay Monster Energy Co. $650,000 in damages in connection with allegations of copyright and trademark infringement (Monster Energy Company v. Zheng Peng, et al., No. 17-414, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175287).
PHILADELPHIA - A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 12 affirmed a trial court's decision to dismiss with prejudice a breach of contract class claim brought by a Pennsylvania resident who claimed that an energy company violated its service contract by raising the rates each month (John D. Orange, et al. v. Starion Energy PA, Inc., et al., No. 16-1949, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19939).
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.).
EASTLAND, Texas - A panel of the 11th District of the Texas Court of Appeals on Oct. 5 affirmed summary judgment on premises liability and negligence claims against the owner of a gas lease in a premises liability suit; however, it reversed judgment granted in favor of the lease owner on a negligent hiring claim because the lease owner did not amend its motion for summary judgment to address those claims (Evelyn Cuevas, et al. v. Endeavor Energy Resources L.P., No. 11-15-00157-CV, Texas App., 11th Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 9399).