LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Says Inmate's Drinking Water Complaint States A Valid Claim

CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Oct. 26 ruled that a prison inmate had sufficiently alleged that the drinking water in the facility where he is incarcerated contains toxins and may be the cause of his health problems (Jerrold Davis v. Tarry Williams, et al., No. 15-8130, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148065).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Legislator Questions EPA's Ability To Assess Glyphosate Based On 'Sound Science'

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology wrote a letter to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 25 stating that the committee has obtained information that "appears to contradict" the administrator's responses to questions the committee posed regarding the EPA's oversight of the herbicide glyphosate. In the letter, the chairman indicates that in light of the contradictions, the EPA's decision to delay official review of glyphosate does not "instill confidence that EPA will fairly assess glyphosate based on sound science."

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Finds Failure To Produce Witness Warrants Sanctions, Not Dismissal

LOS ANGELES - An asbestos defendant's delay in producing a corporate witness despite court orders to do so warrants imposing sanctions and awarding attorney fees, but not dismissal of the case, a federal judge in California held Oct. 24 (Victoria Lund, et al. v. Crane Co., et al., No. 13-2776, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 147072).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Lawmakers: State's Efforts To Block Flint Water Crisis Lawsuits Should Be Probed

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Five Michigan Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 26 sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to investigate a series of concerns pertaining to lawsuits involving the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., including the way in which the State of Michigan is applying its emergency manager law (EML) to block the City of Flint from suing the state.

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - DuPont: C8 Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed For Plaintiff's Lack Of Causation

COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Oct. 24 filed a brief in Ohio federal court, arguing that one of the cases included in the multidistrict litigation regarding alleged injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) should be dismissed because the plaintiff cannot establish that C8 from DuPont's Washington Works facility was the proximate and specific cause of his testicular cancer (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Jury Awards $20 Million In Punitives In Tobacco Trial

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Oct. 25 awarded $20 million in punitive damages to the husband of a woman who died after developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) from smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny trial (Alan Konzelman v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-019620, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud. Cir., Broward Co.).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Split 8th Circuit Finds CAFA Removal Of Chemical Release Claims Was Timely

ST. LOUIS - A letter from plaintiffs' counsel seeking a settlement in excess of $5 million was not sufficient notice to the defendant that the case was removable to federal court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), a divided Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 24 (Carla Gibson, et al. v. Clean Harbors Environmental Services, Inc., No. 16-8012, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 19073).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Volkswagen Emissions MDL Judge Enters Final Approval Of $14.7B Settlement

SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on Oct. 25 granted plaintiffs' request for final approval of a $14.7 billion settlement to resolve allegations over Volkswagen AG's installation of a defeat device designed to cheat emissions tests and deceive state and federal regulators, ruling that the settlement is fair and reasonable (In re: Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2672, Case No. 15-md-2672, N.D. Calif.).

Mealey's Insurance - U.S. Navy Files Complaint In Contamination Dispute, Claims Insurer Breached Contract

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The U.S. Department of the Navy on Oct. 19 filed a complaint in intervention in a California federal court, seeking a declaration that an insurer owes coverage for environmental contamination discovered at one of the Navy's California shipyards (Lennar Mare Island LLC v. Steadfast Insurance Co., et al., No. 12-2182, E.D. Calif.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Most Of Settlement Transcript In Train Derailment Case Should Not Be Sealed

CAMDEN, N.J. - The federal judge in New Jersey presiding over claims brought by residents who say they were injured as a result of a vinyl chloride spill into Mantua Creek on Oct. 17 ruled that the majority of a transcript pertaining to settlement transactions could not be sealed (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases [Karen Armistead v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. 13-2358], Master Docket No. 13-784, D. N.J.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Magistrate Questions Motive, Denies Motion To Add Defendant

NEW ORLEANS - Saying she is "highly suspicious" of the motive behind adding a diversity-defeating asbestos defendant after removal and just before a motion for remand, a federal magistrate judge in Lousiana declined a motion to file a supplemental and amended complaint on Oct. 17 (Nolan Legeaux, et al. v. Borg-Warner Corp., et al., No. 16-13773, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143241).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Court Affirms Rejection Of $10.3M Jones Act Asbestos Verdict

MIAMI - A Florida appeals court on Oct. 19 affirmed a judge's ruling setting aside a $10.3 million Jones Act asbestos verdict against a cruise line (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Flint, Mich., Residents: State Department Of Education Liable in Lead Water Crisis

DETROIT - A class of Michigan residents on Oct. 18 filed a putative class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief "to vindicate the rights" of school-age children residing in Flint, Mich., who currently have disabilities, or who are at risk of developing them, due to elevated levels of lead in the drinking water (D.R., as a minor through parent and next friend Dawn Richardson, et al. v. Michigan Department of Education, et al., No. 16-cv-13694, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Bars Expert Opinion On Responsible Care Initiative In Tainted Water Supply Suit

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Having found that American Chemistry Council's Responsible Care initiative is not an industry standard and does not impose an independent duty of care on a chemical distributor, a West Virginia federal judge on Oct. 13 excluded expert testimony on the initiative from both the distributor and plaintiffs accusing it of contaminating their water supply (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Company Inc., et al., No. 14-01374, S.D. W.Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 141865).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Residents Affected By Toxic Chemical Spill Seek Class Status

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A group of residents on Oct. 14 filed a brief in a Tennessee federal court arguing that it should certify a class action against CSX Transportation Inc. and another railroad company related to a spill of toxic chemicals that resulted from a train derailment based on the need to evacuate the residential area surrounding the site (Charles Tipton, et al. v. CSX Transportation Inc., et al., No. 15-311, E.D. Tenn.).

Mealey's Insurance - Panel Says Refinery Owner Not Covered Under Policy For Contamination Cleanup Costs

NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 17 determined that a district court did not err in finding that a refinery owner seeking help with environmental cleanup costs was not covered under its parent company's policy because the refinery owner was not listed as an insured and did not show that the policy intended to provide coverage to any third-party beneficiaries (AIG Specialty Insurance Company, f/k/a Chartis Specialty Insurance Company v. Tesoro Corporation, No. 15-50953, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 18613).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Supplier Denies Liability For Injuries From Lithium Battery Explosion

OKLAHOMA CITY - One of the defendants being sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an answer and counterclaim in Oklahoma federal court on Oct. 14, contending that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that it is entitled to immunity under the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Act (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.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - New York Court: Boilermaker Can't Show Take-Home Asbestos Claims Fail

NEW YORK - A boilermaker pointed to alleged holes in a take-home asbestos case but never introduced evidence demonstrating why the plaintiff could not have suffered exposure when his draftsman engineer father worked around its products, a New York appeals court held Oct. 13 (Mark Ricci v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190224/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2016 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 6641).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 9th Circuit Briefed On Asbestos Causation, Original Parts Liability

SAN FRANCISCO - A woman cannot hold a manufacturer liable for third-party asbestos-containing parts and has not shown that any alleged exposure constitutes a substantial factor in her decedent's disease, a boiler maker told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal Oct. 12 (Geraldine Hilt, et al. v. Foster Wheeler LLC, FKA Foster Wheeler Corp., No. 15-17301, 9th Cir.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Meat Distributor To Pay $43,000 Over Excessive Stormwater Discharges

LENEXA, Kan. - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Oct. 13 that an Iowa-based meat and poultry distributor has agreed to pay $43,000 for excessive discharges of stormwater into Hecker Creek.

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Defendants: Flint, Mich., Residents' Claims Fail In Water Crisis Lawsuit

DETROIT - A group of defendants in a putative class action filed by residents of Flint, Mich., contending that various state officials are liable for injuries that have stemmed from exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water moved in Michigan federal court to have the case dismissed on grounds that they are covered by sovereign immunity and federal law pertaining to drinking water "provides a comprehensive remedial scheme which precludes all claims" (Lawrence Washington, Jr., et al. v. Governor Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16- 11247, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Appellate Panel Affirms Defense Verdict In Tobacco Suit

MIAMI - A Florida appellate panel on Oct.13 affirmed a defense verdict in an Engle progeny suit after finding that the trial judge did not err by including a question about Philip Morris USA Inc.'s fault on the verdict form over the plaintiff's objections (Jose Vila v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 3D15-1853, Fla. App. 3rd Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 15126).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Glass Maker Sues Tobacco Shop For Allegedly Selling Counterfeit Products

LOS ANGELES - A German tobacco glass pipe maker on Oct. 11 filed suit in California federal court against a retail smoke shop, claiming that the shop has sold and continues to sell counterfeit products made by the pipe maker without its express permission (Sream Inc. v. MP Tobacco Inc., No. 5:16-cv-2143, C.D. Calif.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - San Diego Port Sues Federal Government For Groundwater, Soil Contamination

SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Unified Port District (SDUPD) on Oct. 11 filed a lawsuit in California federal court against the U.S. government, seeking cost recovery and damages related to alleged contamination of the port and the groundwater around it with industrial waste (San Diego Unified Port District v. United States of America, No. 16-2540, S.D. Calif.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Group: EPA Has Failed To Develop Perchlorate Guidelines For Drinking Water

NEW YORK - An environmental group on Oct. 12 filed a brief in New York federal court seeking a summary judgment ruling against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly missing a deadline to propose final regulations for perchlorate in drinking water pursuant to Congress' instructions in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1251, S.D. N.Y.).