ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Jan. 23 granted summary judgment to a group of government officials and dismissed the complaints brought by two Native American nations with prejudice after finding that an amendment to a tax on Native American-made cigarettes does not violate the tribes' right to tribal sovereignty (Seneca Nation of Indians, et al. v. David Patterson, et al., No. 1:10-cv-00687, W.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9060).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A school board had a common-law duty to provide a teacher with a safe work space free from asbestos, and local agencies can be held liable for such exposure where it falls within an exception to the general government immunity, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 25 (John F. Geier, executor of the estate of Marianne M. Geier and John F. Geier v. Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh v. American Art Clay Company Inc., et al., No. 625 C.D. 2016, Pa. Cmwlth.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 25 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's decision denying a radiology firm's appeal of the denial of its claim for benefits under the Business and Economic Loss framework (BEL) of the Deepwater Horizon Economic Loss and Property Damage Settlement Agreement, finding that the firm does not own a facility under the settlement agreement (Claimant ID 100250022 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 16-30258, 5th Cir.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California water district filed a brief in California federal court on Jan. 25 defending the qualifications of one of its experts to testify in a groundwater contamination case involving methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The water district also contends in a separate brief that its claim for $34 million in damages "will be amply supported" by the testimony provided (Orange County Water District v. Unocal Corporation, et al., No. 03-1742, C.D. Calif.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who sued E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Jan. 24 filed a brief in Ohio federal court arguing that every argument asserted by the company for bifurcating the compensatory and punitive damages phases of trial has previously been rejected by the court (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
SEATTLE - An asbestos-insulation installer's conduct and knowledge supports imposing a duty on it for take-home exposure of a woman who died on the eve of trial and a resulting $3.6 million verdict, a Washington appeals court on Jan. 23 (Estate of Barbara Brandes v. Brand Insulation Inc., No. 73748-1-I, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2017 Wash. App. LEXIS 111).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A federal judge in New Mexico on Jan. 23 denied a motion for expedited dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the state of New Mexico over the Gold King mine spill that resulted in the discharge of more than 3 million gallons of acid mine drainage and 880,000 pounds of heavy metals into the Animas River watershed, ruling that briefing should first be completed as to the state's motion to file an amended complaint (State of New Mexico v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-CV-465, consolidated with No. 16-CV-931, D. N.M.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8943).
ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 23 ruled that Ameren Missouri violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when making major modifications to two coal-fired burners at its Rush Island facility in Festus, Mo., without first obtaining a prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit, ruling that the repairs were not routine maintenance and increased emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) (United States of America v. Ameren Missouri, No. 11 CV 77 RWS, E.D. Mo.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8997).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Jan. 23 transferred another glyphosate injury lawsuit to the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, adding another case in which the plaintiff alleges that his exposure to the Roundup herbicide caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 23 denied a motion by a third-party defendant seeking to try third-party claims separately in a case where two environmental advocacy groups sued a glass manufacturer for groundwater contamination, finding that the third-party defendant did not show that separate trials were necessary (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8683).
PHILADELPHIA - Testimony establishing exposure to dust in dryer felts falls short of linking that exposure to asbestos or the manufacturer in question, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 19 (James Floyd Jr., executor of the estate of James C. Floyd Sr., deceased v. AstenJohnson Inc., No. 3663 EDA 2015, Pa. Super.).
NEW ORLEANS - Requiring production of contracts and other evidence of precise government oversight into the use of asbestos in the military oversteps the boundaries of federal officer removal, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Jan. 20 (Howard Zeringue v. Allis-Chalmers Corp., et al., No. 16-30058, 5th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1077).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An Arkansas appeals panel on Jan. 18 reversed a trial court judge's ruling ordering a defendant to pay $28,200 to remediate an oil spill on farmland he leased from his stepfather, finding that the repair estimate relied on by the plaintiff was inadmissible hearsay (Barry Jones, d/b/a Borderline Farms v. John B. Dozier Land Trust, et al., No. CV-16-378, Ark. App., Div. 4; 2017 Ark. App. LEXIS 23).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on Jan. 19 partially granted an insurer's motion for summary judgment in an environmental contamination coverage suit involving missing policies after determining that the limits for the missing policies must be capped at $5,000 per accident and $25,000 in the aggregate (E.M. Sergeant Pulp & Chemical Co. Inc., et al. v. The Travelers Indemnity Co. Inc., et al., No. 12-1741, D. N.J.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7231).
NEW YORK - A New York justice did not err when denying a home-heating-oil company's motion for summary judgment on liability because the company was required to demonstrate that a spill that occurred after an employee overfilled a woman's in-home, above-ground tanks did not actually reach the surface or groundwater, a state appellate panel ruled Jan. 18. (Mary Ellen Zincke v. Pacific Energy Corp., No. 2015-00108, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 338).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 19 certified two questions to the New York Court of Appeals in a dispute over whether a public benefit corporation has the capacity to challenge as unconstitutional a New York statute that revived claims against public corporations for personal injuries incurred during the rescue, recovery and cleanup efforts following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks (In re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation, Nos. 15-2181, 15-2283, 15-2285, 15-2487, 15-2506 and 15-2687, 2nd Cir.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Superior Court on Jan. 17 in a single opinion vacated orders denying class certification in two substantially similar complaints alleging that oil and gas leases were breached and payments were never made, finding that the trial court abused its discretion in denying the motions (Lucinda A. Cardinale, et al. v. R.E. Gas Development, LLC, et al., No. 1186 WDA 2015, Mary R. Billotte, et al. v. R.E. Gas Development, LLC, et al., No. 1187 WDA 2015, Pa. Super.; 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 34).
PHOENIX - The Navajo Nation and the United States have agreed to settle their claims against two mining companies for cleanup of 94 abandoned uranium mines on Navajo lands, with the companies performing the work and the United States contributing about half the estimated $600 million in costs, according to a consent decree filed Jan. 17 in Arizona federal court (United States of America v. Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, et al., No. 2:17-cv-140, Navajo Nation v. Cyprus Amax Minerals Company, et al., No. 3:17-cv-8007, D. Ariz.).
CHICAGO - An Illinois city cannot seek civil penalties under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) against two companies that owned a manufactured gas facility, a federal judge in Illinois ruled Jan. 17, holding that the city did not allege that the companies violated subchapter III of the RCRA (City of Evanston, Ill. v. Northern Illinois Gas Company, et al., No. 16-C-5692, N.D. Ill.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5771).
NEW YORK - The United States on Jan. 14 filed suit against a cigar manufacturer in New York federal court, alleging that the company failed to make payments after a civil fine was imposed against it under a law that was created to transition the tobacco industry to a free market (United States of America v. La Casa Grande Tobacco Corporation, No. 17-CV-225, S.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. on Jan. 11 told a federal judge in the District of Columbia that a deceptive marketing suit against it should stay in federal court, arguing that the cost of complying with the injunctive relief sought exceeds the $75,000 threshold regardless of whether the court finds that the named plaintiff, Breathe DC, is the only plaintiff or finds that there are multiple plaintiffs (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-2378, D. D.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A district court did not err in determining that an insured seeking coverage from three insurers for an underlying environmental lawsuit is not entitled to coverage under the policies because the insured failed to tender the underlying suit to the insurers and received a defense for the underlying suit from another insurer, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Jan. 13 (M.B.L. Inc. v. Federal Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-56107, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 695).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 13 certified two questions to the California Supreme Court regarding whether California's notice-prejudice rule is a fundamental public policy for the purpose of choice-of-law analysis and whether a consent provision can be interpreted as a notice provision (Pitzer College v. Indian Harbor Insurance Co., No.. 14-56017, 9th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 668).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 11 advertised in the Federal Register a proposed rule to prohibit the manufacture, import, processing and distribution of trichloroethylene (TCE), a volatile organic compound used in industrial and commercial processes, due to "unreasonable risks" to health.
TAMPA, Fla. - The daughter of a woman who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) filed suit against three tobacco companies in Florida state court on Jan. 10 pursuant to the Engle findings (Angelia Garrett v. Lorillard Tobacco Co., et al., No. 17-CA-000242, Fla. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).