WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Environmental Protection Agency must respond to Sierra Club's petition asking the agency to object to a proposed operating permit for a power plant in Tennessee by Jan. 31, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled Nov. 17 in granting the group's motion for summary judgment (Sierra Club v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-906, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190374).
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).
HOUSTON - A resolution extending benefits to optional employees is valid and places an asbestos case brought on behalf of a former judge under the exclusivity provision of the workers' compensation system, a government entity told a Texas appeals court on Nov. 15 (Jefferson County, Texas v. Ellarene Farris, et al., No. 01-17-00493-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
NEW YORK - The New York Department of Investigation (DOI) on Nov. 15 issued a report indicating that the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) failed to conduct mandatory safety inspections for lead paint during a four-year period beginning in 2013 but falsified reports to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development stating that the NYCHA was in compliance with federal laws pertaining to those inspections.
LOS ANGELES - A California jury on Nov. 16 returned a verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson in the first ever cosmetic-talc asbestos case taken to trial against the company, while also handing a defense verdict to the company that mined the raw talc, sources told Mealey Publications (Tina Herford, et al. v. AT&T Corp., et al., No. BC646315, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
AMHERST, S.D. - TransCanada Corp. announced Nov. 16 that it shut down its Keystone pipeline after it experienced a leak in South Dakota that resulted in an oil spill of 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil.
HELENA, Mont. - W.R. Grace's bankruptcy order enjoining new litigation tolled the Federal Employer's Liability Act (FELA) three-year statute of limitations for suing an associated railroad that allegedly exposed a worker to asbestos-contaminated vermiculite, the Montana Supreme Court held Nov. 14 (Kelly G. Watson v. BNSF Railway Co., et al., No. DA 17-0229, Mont. Sup., 2017 Mont. LEXIS 678).
SCRANTON, Pa. - A Pennsylvania jury on Nov. 15 returned a defense verdict for a handful of boiler and furnace manufacturers and parts supply houses, finding that the asbestos-containing products in question were not unreasonably dangerous and that none of the five defendants acted negligently (Diane Horst, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 15 CV 1903, Pa. Comm. Pls., Lackawanna Co.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - Plaintiffs alleging asbestos exposure in drilling mud must respond to written discovery seeking information regarding injuries, exposure and work history and seeking the release of related medical records and work histories, a federal judge in Louisiana said Nov. 14 (Manuel Garza v. Phillips 66 Co., et al., No. 13-742, M.D. La.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Two companies supplied tons of asbestos-containing paper to a manufacturer without any type of warning, despite clear evidence of the fiber's dangers to workers and household members, a women tells Delaware's top court in urging it to reinstate her second-hand exposure case (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center, et al., No. 305, 2017, Del. Sup.).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation stemming from groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on Nov. 13 recommended remanding the Orange County Water District's (OCWD) lawsuit to California federal court, finding that all consolidated pretrial proceedings in the suit have been completed (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Products liability Litigation, MDL 1358, Orange County Water District v. Unocal, et al., No. 04 Civ. 4968, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187458).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on Nov. 10 filed a brief in the multidistrict litigation for the herbicide Roundup in California federal court, arguing that the evidence offered by the plaintiffs' expert concerning the carcinogenic properties of Roundup's active ingredient glyphosate is "unreliable" and constitutes "junk science" (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Monsanto Co. and numerous agricultural trade groups on Nov. 15 filed a lawsuit in California federal court against two state agencies and their directors, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief to prevent them from "mandating false, misleading, and highly controversial cancer warnings concerning the herbicide glyphosate" (National Association of Wheat Growers, et al. v. Lauren Zeise, et al., No. 17-at-1224, E.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California appeals panel on Nov. 14 reversed and remanded a $1.15 billion verdict against the former makers of lead paint in a public nuisance lawsuit brought by the state of California, concluding that "substantial evidences does not support causation as to residences built after 1950." Upon remand, the panel directed the trial court to recalculate the amount of the award to limit it to the amount necessary to cover the cost of remediating pre-1951 homes (The People v. ConAgra Grocery Products Company, et al., No. H040880, Calif. App., 6th Dist.).
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - To hold two companies liable for supplying valves to the U.S. Navy, a plaintiff must also submit evidence that the asbestos-containing gaskets and packing were original or that the companies supplied replacement parts, a federal magistrate judge in Arizona said in a Nov. 9 report and recommendation (Bobby Len Davis and Becky Davis v. Air & Liquid System Corp., et al., No. 14-2288, D. Ariz., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 186478).
DETROIT - Two employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Nov. 10 moved in Michigan federal court to strike portions of an amended complaint filed by residents of the city of Flint, Mich., contending that the plaintiffs "inaccurately allege that Defendants have been charged with involuntary manslaughter" in connection with the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania judge considering two companies' motion for reconsideration in light of a ruling excluding plaintiffs' experts in an asbestos-tainted talc case denied the motions without prejudice to the filing of new ones in an order docketed Nov. 7 (Sally Brandt, et al. v. The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., et al., No. 151202987, Pa. Comm Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on Nov. 7 filed petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court, seeking a review of an $11.5 million verdict against the company in an Engle progeny suit and claiming that the 1965 Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act, 15 U.S.C 1331-1341, preempts the findings of the Phase I Engle proceedings (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Florence Monroe, No. 17-675, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California appellate panel on Nov. 6 vacated a trial court's decision and ruled that a lawsuit filed by an environmental advocacy organization against Dow Agrosciences LLC related to alleged exposure to chemicals that cause cancer should be moved to a different venue, as requested by the company (Dow Agrosciences LLC v. The Superior Court of Alameda County, No. A150854, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 4).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A panel of the Fourth District of the Florida Court of Appeal on Nov. 8 found that a U.S. surgeon general's report that was admitted to the jury during an Engle progeny suit was hearsay and should not have been admitted as evidence and remanded the suit to the trial court for a new trial (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. John McCoy, No. 4D16-259, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).
CONCORD, N.H. - The liquidator for The Home Insurance Co. on Nov. 3 asked a New Hampshire trial court to approve a $9.3 million settlement with an insured to resolve asbestos claims under eight insurance policies (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Co., No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Super., Merrimack Co.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The law clearly requires those bringing asbestos-related lung cancer claims to submit a medical expert's opinion regarding whether the plaintiff qualifies as a smoker of tobacco products, language intended to prioritize asbestos lung cancer claims and insulate untrained judges from having to translate medical records, a company told the Ohio Supreme Court on Nov. 7 (Bobby Turner, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 17-0004, Ohio Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 7 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling requiring a commercial barge company to reimburse the government for $20 million in cleanup costs it incurred following a July 2008 oil spill that occurred in the Mississippi River, finding that the defendant company was not entitled to a defense under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) (United States of America v. American Commercial Lines, LLC, No. 16-31150, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22260).
CLEVELAND - A ceramics company packed its products in asbestos-tainted vermiculite long after it learned of the problem and never issued warnings or recalls, a man tells an Ohio court in a Nov. 2 trial brief (Paul M. Cornett, et al. v. Clark Industrial Insulating Co., et al., No. CV-15-845107, Ohio Comm. Pls., Cuyahoga Co.).
DALLAS - A court lacks jurisdiction over 20-year-old deposition testimony into the creation of a memo some believe shows lawyers coaching asbestos witnesses because the testimony is not a court document, plaintiffs and their law firm told a Texas appeals court on Nov. 3 (Christine Cole Biederman v. Beverly Jean Brown, et al., No. 01-07-00263-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).