GREENSBORO, N.C. - Evidence of a conflicted company struggling with evolving knowledge about asbestos and mesothelioma cannot support a punitive damage claim, a federal judge in North Carolina held March 4 while permitting two other claims (Susan Elizabeth Smith, et al. v. American Honda Motor Co. Inc., et al., No. 14-943, M.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45100).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana's did not abuse his discretion when finding that a motion to sever was not an adequate means for man who allegedly sustained injuries while fighting fires that occurred after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 to opt out of a settlement offered by BP Exploration and Production, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 6 (In re: Deepwater Horizon: Seacor Holdings v. Duwayne Mason, No. 15-30597, 5th Cir.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A pathologist's opinion that a tumor identified in 2002 is the same as the one diagnosed as malignant epithelial mesothelioma (MEM) in 2010 lacks sufficient reference to the disease in question or that the same disease existed at both times, a New York appeals court panel held March 31 (Linda Wells v. 3M Co. and Genuine Parts Co., et al., No. 521580, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 3rd Dept.; 2016 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2396).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorneys for the State of New Hampshire on April 5 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court contending that Exxon Mobil Corp.'s (EMC) petition for writ of certiorari in the parties' dispute regarding cleanup costs for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) should be denied because the company has failed to preserve a due process challenge to the lower court ruling at issue (Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. v. State of New Hampshire, No. 15-933, U.S. Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon federal magistrate judge on March 31 granted an insurer's motion for partial summary judgment, but only as it pertained to classifying costs incurred in a settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as indemnity costs rather than defense costs (Siltronic Corp. v. Employers Insurance Company of Wausau, et al., No. 11-1493, D. Ore.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43400).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana presiding over litigation stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on April 4 approved an $18 billion settlement offered by BP Exploration and Production Inc. to resolve Clean Water Act (CWA) and natural resource damages claims brought by the federal government and states of Alabama, Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, Case No. 09-md-2179, E.D. La).
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on March 31 denied petitions challenging the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to approve in part and deny in part Arizona's state implementation plan (SIP) governing regional haze, holding that the agency did not act arbitrarily or capriciously (Phoenix Cement Company v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 13-73383, 13-73393, 13-73401, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 5944).
DETROIT - The National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which are among the plaintiffs who sued state and local officials over the lead contamination in the drinking water in Flint, Mich., on March 31 filed joint briefs in Michigan federal court opposing the motion to dismiss filed by the state treasurer and members of the Flint Receivership Transition Advisory Board (FRTAB), contending that the defendants are subject to injunctive relief to correct continuing violations of federal law (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on March 29 reversed and remanded a case brought by a man who contends that he was injured as a result of exposure to Agent Orange during his service in the U.S. Army. The judge said the Board of Veterans Affairs provided "inadequate" reasons for denying the veteran's claim (Harold L. Burt v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-0853, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 454).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on March 31 adopted a magistrate judge's report and recommendation and dismissed a lawsuit brought by a local water authority that had claimed that Northrop Grumman Corp. and an affiliate were liable for contaminating the drinking water supply with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) (Bethpage Water District v. Northrop Grumman Corporation, et al., No. 13-6362, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43720).
BOSTON - A group of smokers still seeking medical monitoring from Philip Morris USA Inc. says in a March 31 response to the tobacco company's motion for final judgment that there is legal precedent for a Massachusetts federal judge to enter a different verdict on the plaintiffs' consumer protection claim than the jury found on their warranty claim (Kathleen Donovan, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 1:06-cv-12234, D. Mass.).
RALEIGH, N.C. - A North Carolina federal judge on March 29 granted an insurer's motion for judgment on the pleadings after determining that the insurer met its burden of proving that it has no duty to defend under certain of its policies for two underlying environmental contamination claims (PCS Phosphate Co. Inc. v. American Home Assurance Co., No. 14-99, E.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41432).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 29 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by a company that had been sued by a North Carolina man who contended that he contracted cancer as a result of groundwater contamination for which the man said the company was liable (Kent Stahle v. CTS Corporation, No. 15-1001, 4th Cir.).
SALT LAKE CITY - Asarco LLC's claims seeking contribution from a mining company under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) toward the $7.4 million the plaintiff company spent on remediating the Richardson Flat Superfund site in Utah are barred by judicial estoppel and the fact that the plaintiff company could not show that it paid more than its fair share to clean up the property, a federal judge in Utah ruled March 28 in granting Noranda Mining Inc.'s motion for summary judgment (Asarco LLC v. Noranda Mining Inc., No. 12-CV-527-TC-DBP, D. Utah; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41532).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over multidistrict litigation for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on March 29 dismissed two more defendants (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, No. 00-1898, MDL 1358, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 08-0312, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK - A judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on March 28 dismissed a groundwater contamination lawsuit against two gas stations, and partially dismissed a third-party claim brought by one gas station owner against the other for allegedly failing to remediate the chemical spill that led to the contamination in the first place (The Plumbing Supply LLC v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. 14CV3674, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41112).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on March 25 granted an insured's motion for summary judgment after determining that coverage for underlying asbestos personal injury claims is triggered not when the exposure occurred, but when the actual injury or damage occurred (Compass Insurance Co. v. University Mechanical & Engineering Contractors Inc., No. 14-04295, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39624).
PHILADELPHIA - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced March 28 that the owner of a chemical repackaging and distribution plant in Reading, Pa., agreed to pay a $55,000 penalty for illegally storing oil and hazardous waste and that it would donate $30,000 of emergency response equipment to a local fire department.
WASHINGTON D.C. - Responding to a petition for certiorari and a brief supporting it by a group of judges, Philip Morris U.S.A. Inc. tells the U.S. Supreme Court in a March 26 response brief that an Illinois Supreme Court justice who ran a campaign promise to rule in favor of tobacco companies did not violate due process rights by denying an appellant's motion to recuse himself from deciding an appeal of a $10 billion verdict in a tobacco case (Sharon Price and Michael Furth v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. No. 15-947. U.S. Sup.).
CAMDEN, N.J. - A railroad company sued for injuries from vinyl chloride contamination that allegedly occurred following a train derailment on March 28 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court contending that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs did not provide any scientific evidence of the dose of chemical to which they claim to have been exposed (In Re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on March 22 granted summary judgment to five defendants but found sufficient evidence of an electrician's potential asbestos exposure from Bakelite contactors (Nanette Pace, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 13-6227, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36659).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana on March 23 permitted a group of plaintiffs alleging personal injuries to amend their complaint against Exxon Mobil Corp. and granted a motion to intervene sought by former employees of the plant from which chemicals were allegedly spilled (Tonga Nolan v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, No. 13-439, M.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38303).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on March 22 ruled that a woman who won $1.6 million against E.I. du Pont De Nemours and Co. for injuries due to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) is entitled to post-judgment interest (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (NCDEQ) on March 24 petitioned the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency "to take immediate action" and revise the federal rule pertaining to lead and copper in drinking water pursuant to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA).
NEW ORLEANS - Survivor claims sound in strict liability and require vacating remand of an asbestos action and consideration of whether a ship yard has a colorable federal defense, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held March 22 (Lorita M. Savoie, et al. v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 15-30514, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 5328).