CAMDEN, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 17 partially denied two insurers' motions for summary judgment on the applicability of their policies' pollution exclusions after determining that a question of fact exists as to whether the leakage of heating oil from an underground storage tank constitutes "traditional environmental pollution" that is precluded under the exclusion (Nimrod Benjamin, et al., v. State Farm Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-4123, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131078).
TRENTON, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on Aug. 16 granted in part NL Industries Inc.'s motion to exclude testimony from two experts for an environmental group accusing the company of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), finding that portions of each expert's testimony was unreliable (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 131754).
NEW ORLEANS - A ship builder on Aug. 17 appealed a federal judge's conclusion that remand was warranted because the U.S. Navy's mandate that ships contain asbestos-containing insulation aboard warships did not prevent the company from warning employees of the dangers or from implementing adequate safety programs (George K. Mayeaux Jr. v. Taylor-Seidenbach Inc., et al., No. 16-16813, E.D. La.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A man's testimony that he encountered dust when loading a company's asbestos-containing cement pipe onto his flat-bed truck, even where potentially questionable, sufficiently identifies the product and creates genuine issues of material fact, a Delaware judge held Aug. 17 (Jack E. Trousdale, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. N15C-08-186 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on Aug. 17 determined that a jury must determine when, if ever, Amtrak's operations first caused environmental damage to third-party property because both the cause of the environmental contamination and its effect on third-party property are disputed issues of fact (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, et al. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., et al., No. 14-4717, E.D. N.Y.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Aug. 16 affirmed a $33 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial court engaged in the "genuineness inquiry" in overruling the tobacco companies' objections to prospective jurors (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Linda Purdo Enochs, No. 4D16-2025, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 11791).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on Aug. 15 issued a second order consolidating all of the lawsuits pertaining to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., into one action in response to a motion to reconsider filed by a group of state employee defendants. The one-page order did not elaborate on the ruling (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
CINCINNATI - A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 17 affirmed a federal judge in Tennessee's ruling awarding damages to a contractor that helped remediate the site of the Manhattan Project but found that the judge should recalculate the amount of interest owed to the contractor under the Tennessee Prompt Pay Act (Eagle Supply and Manufacturing, L.P. v. Bechtel Jacobs Company, LLC, No. 16-6428, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 15498).
NEW YORK - The attorney representing a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for injuries, only to have it reversed, on Aug. 16 filed a letter with the judge presiding over the matter in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York objecting to "exorbitant and unprecedented" defense costs, and seeking reassignment of the case to another federal court (Chevron Corporation v. Donziger, et al., Case No. 11 Civ. 691, S.D. N.Y.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A doctor with 30 years of experience reviewing asbestos and colon cancer cases satisfies the standard for offering an opinion on causation, a California appeals court held Aug. 14 in dismissing a company's complaints about the quality of some of the underlying evidence the expert relied upon (Dolores Duty, et al. v. TRZ Realty LLC, Nos. A142167, A143260, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 5616).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. - A federal judge in Arizona on Aug. 15 ruled that the federal government's fee title ownership of land in the Navajo Reservation that houses 19 uranium mines makes it an owner under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (El Paso Natural Gas Company LLC v. United States, No. CV-14-08165-PCT-DGC, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129696).
SAN FRANCISCO - Plaintiffs' attorneys representing people who contend that they developed cancer as a result of exposure to Roundup, the herbicide manufactured by Monsanto Co. that contains glyphosate, on Aug. 14 filed a brief in a California federal court arguing that they did not act in bad faith when they made 86 documents public that pertain to the lawsuit because when they did so, there was "no longer a live dispute" with regard to their confidentiality (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two amicus curiae parties on Aug. 15 joined a plaintiff in urging the Florida Supreme Court to reject the Daubert standard and reverse an appellate court's ruling excluding experts and negating an $8 million asbestos award (Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al., No. SC16-2182, Fla. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - In a breach of contract suit, an insurer moved for clarification on Aug. 11 with a Pennsylvania federal court to confirm that it is to produce only unredacted versions of documents previously produced with redactions based on proprietary material, reserves and "other reinsurance" information and additional documents reflecting the date when the insurer provided first notice of asbestos claims to other reinsurers of relevant policies (R&Q Reinsurance Co. v. St. Paul Fire & Marine Insurance Co., No. 16-1473, E.D. Pa.).
MACON, Ga. - An interlocutory appeal of an order denying a protective fabric maker's motion to dismiss a suit accusing it of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) would not ultimately advance the litigation, a federal judge in Georgia ruled Aug. 15, finding that discovery is needed to determine if wastewater from the company's facility is being discharged into navigable waterways of the United States (Flint Riverkeeper, Inc. v. Southern Mills Inc., No. 16-CV-435, M.D. Ga., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129430).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Aug. 10 reversed a federal judge in Montana's ruling that a contribution lawsuit brought under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act was barred by the statute of limitations, holding that American Smelting and Refining Co. LLC's (ASARCO's) claim did not arise until the entry of a 2009 consent decree with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (ASARCO v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 14-35723, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 14781).
NEWARK, N.J. - The special master appointed to oversee discovery issues in a seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit involving allegations of fraud on the part of a talc defendant and its lawyer said in an Aug. 11 letter that a law firm's representation of an unrelated party does not disqualify him from serving (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - A federal judge in South Dakota on Aug. 9 denied a motion brought by a group of plaintiffs seeking to increase the amount of tobacco used in a religious mixture for Native American religious ceremonies in prison after finding that the amount the court already allowed was sufficient for religious ceremonies (Native American Council of Tribes, et al. v. Douglas Weber, et al., No. 4:09-CV-4182, D. S.D., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125754).
SAN FRANCISCO - The federal judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation for Roundup, the herbicide manufactured by Monsanto Co. that contains glyphosate, on Aug. 9 ordered plaintiffs' counsel to show cause why it should not be removed from the case or otherwise sanctioned monetarily in connection with the law firm's decision to post online disputed documents that Monsanto contends are confidential (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
DETROIT - A group of Michigan residents on Aug. 8 filed a class action against Ford Motor Co. in Michigan state court contending that the company is liable for groundwater contamination as a result of leaking "highly toxic chemicals" from its facility in Livonia, Mich. (Bruce Tenniswood, et al. v. Ford Motor Co., 17-011941-NZ, Mich. Cir., Wayne Co.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma Supreme Court on Aug. 10 found that a tobacco tax labeled as a "smoking cessation fee" is a revenue-raising tax because the money generated from it is being used to balance the state's budget and, therefore, that it should be stricken in its entirety (James P. Naifeh, et al. v. State of Oklahoma, et al., No. 116102, Okla. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The en banc District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 10 refused to grant a petition for rehearing en banc sought by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that challenged a split panel decision that found that the EPA did not have the authority to stay the agency's rule on fugitive methane emissions (Clean Air Council, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-1145, D.C. Cir.).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on Aug. 9 dismissed a lawsuit brought by a former administrator for the city of Flint, Mich., who sought damages for defamation and sought protection under the state's whistleblower act in relation to actions she took during the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis, which she contended resulted in the termination of her employment (Natasha Henderson v. The City of Flint, et al., No. 16-11648, E.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125869).
NEWARK, N.J. - Defendants in a seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit on Aug. 8 asked a New Jersey federal judge to replace a special discovery master due to conflict of interest from his past and current law firm associations (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).