LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Consumers Sue GM, Parts Maker Over Emissions Defeat Device

DETROIT - Consumers of diesel-model Silverado and Sierra trucks made by General Motors LLC from 2011 to 2016 filed a class action May 25 in Michigan federal court against the automaker and the manufacturer of a part that allegedly allows the vehicles to cheat emissions tests, claiming that the car maker misrepresented the vehicles' fuel economy and emission levels (Andrei Fenner, et al. v. General Motors, LLC, et al., No. 17-cv-11661, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Federal Judge Orders UPS To Pay More Than $240M For Shipping Untaxed Cigarettes

NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on May 25 ordered United Parcel Service Inc. to pay a total of $246,975,614 after finding in March that UPS knowingly shipped cigarettes to unauthorized sellers and on behalf of those sellers to residents in New York (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43495).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Tribes Must Follow Cigarette Trafficking Act's Record-Keeping Regulations

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The record-keeping provisions of the Contraband Cigarettes Trafficking Act (CCTA) applies to tribal entities for tobacco sales on as well as off the reservation, a District of Columbia federal judge ruled May 24 (Ho-Chunk, Inc., et al. v. Jeff Sessions, in his official capacity as Attorney General of the United States, et al., No. 16-cv-01652, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79397).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Orders Briefing On Dismissal, Jurisdiction In Asbestos Case

SEATTLE - A couple must file supplemental briefs explaining why dismissal of a complete diversity defeating defendant is possible and providing a better explanation of a second defendant's corporate structure, a federal judge overseeing an asbestos action in Washington state held May 24 (Patrick Jack, et al. v. Asbestos Corporation LTD., et al., No. 17-537, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 79813).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - ConocoPhillips To Pay $39M To Settle MTBE Lawsuit

NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on May 23 approved a $39 million settlement deal under which ConocoPhillips, a defendant in the multidistrict litigation for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), will be released from the litigation (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.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Louisiana Court Adds $1M To Couple's 'Too Low' Asbestos Verdict

NEW ORLEANS - Evidence presented at trial and past jury awards in mesothelioma cases support raising a jury's noneconomic damages award to $1.5 million from $500,000, a Louisiana appeals court held May 24 (Frank S. Romano Sr. and Lynn Rome Romano v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 2016-CA-0954, La. App., 4th Cir., 2017 La. App. LEXIS 961).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 5th Company Secures Jurisdiction Dismissal In Asbestos Action

SEATTLE - A couple alleging asbestos exposures in Canada lacks specific or general jurisdiction for a suit in Washington state against a defunct automobile parts seller, a federal judge held May 23 (Matthew Hodjera and Sylvia Hodjera v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 17-48, W.D. Wash.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Judge Declares Mistrial In Engle Progeny Lawsuit

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida state court judge on May 23 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny suit in which a woman claimed that a tobacco company hid the dangers of smoking from her husband, which led to his lung cancer and death, because the judge gave contradictory jury instructions that may confuse the jury (Lorraine Olson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-00396, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Panel Reverses, Says Tenants In Lead-Paint Case May Compel Discovery From Landlord

NEW YORK - An appeals panel in New York on May 23 reversed a lower court's ruling and concluded that tenants who sued their landlord alleging injuries from exposure to lead-based paint had made a valid request to compel discovery pertaining to potential lead violations in the entire building where their apartment was located (Z.D., by her mother and natural guardian Zaimah A. v. MP Management LLC, No. 3436N, 26043/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3989).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Finds Joinder Of Asbestos-Product Supplier Proper, Remands

NEW ORLEANS - A man's claims that his employer used products originally supplied by a defendant and that his work in two facilities could have put him in contact with other asbestos-containing products from the supplier create enough of a case to overcome claims that the defendant was improperly joined to defeat complete diversity, a federal judge in Louisiana held in remanding a case on May 22 (Ronald Smith v. Georgia-Pacific LLC, et al., No. 17-4698, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77044).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Residents: Groundwater Case Against Fire-Suppressant Foam Makers, Sellers Valid

PHILADELPHIA - A group of Pennsylvania residents on May 22 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court arguing that their groundwater contamination lawsuit against a group of chemical companies should not be dismissed because their claims are "proper" and are not barred by the doctrine of primary jurisdiction (Hanah Bates, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-4961, E.D. Pa.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Mississippi Supreme Court Reverses $14M Silicosis Verdict As Time-Barred

JACKSON, Miss. - A man's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis started the clock on the statute of limitations and bars his silicosis claim against a respirator manufacturer, a divided Mississippi Supreme Court held May 18 in reversing a $14 million verdict (American Optical Corp. v. Estate of Robert Lee Rankin Sr., et al., No. 2015-CA-0166-SCT, Miss. Sup., 2017 Miss. LEXIS 190).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Jury Awards $2.4 Million To Former Smoker In Engle Progeny Suit

MIAMI - A Florida state court jury on May 19 awarded a woman who developed lung cancer from smoking $1.3 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to $2.4 million in the suit where she claimed that the misinformation spread about the harmfulness and addictive nature of cigarettes by a tobacco company led to her lung cancer (Linda Martin v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 07-34267-CA, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 5th Circuit: Some Methods Of Calculating Claims Are Inconsistent With Agreement

NEW ORLEANS - Four industry specific methodologies (ISMs) for calculating claimant compensation under the Court Supervised Settlement Program for the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement are inconsistent with the agreement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 22, finding that the methods allow the claims administrator to remove revenue from the requested compensation period and spread it throughout noncompensation months (In re Deepwater Horizon: Lake Eugene Land & Development, Inc. et al. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 15-30377, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8915).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Firms: Circuit Split 'Stark And Wide'; High Court Must Hear Flint Water Lawsuit

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The engineering firms asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against residents of Flint, Mich., regarding liability for the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city on May 22 filed their reply brief contending that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' decision that a plaintiff may obtain remand under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) without evidence of class members' citizenship results in a circuit split that is "stark and wide" (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Justice Allows Addition Of Improperly Named Company To Maritime Asbestos Suit

NEW YORK - A man's maritime asbestos suit improperly naming a successor as a defendant put an independent corporation that operates as a subsidiary of the named defendant on notice that it was being sued, a New York justice held in an opinion posted May 18 (Joseph J. Crandley v. Farrell Lines Inc., et al., No. 190033/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1836).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 11th Circuit Finds Federal Law Does Not Preempt Engle Progeny Claims

ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an en banc decision on May 18 ruled that federal law does not preempt smokers from filing negligence suits against tobacco companies and affirmed a $2.75 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8718).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Finds Jurisdiction Lacking In Asbestos Case Against German Auto Maker

MIAMI - A German automaker's contacts with Florida are insufficient grounds on which to exercise jurisdiction over the company, a Florida appeals court held May 17 (Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft d/b/a Volkswagen AG v. Carol Jones, et al., No. 2D15-5716, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 5th Circuit: Administrator Did Not Misapply Agreement When Denying Grocer's Claim

NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not abuse his discretion when refusing to review the denial of a food grocer's claim for $2.4 million under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 18, holding that the claims administrator did not misapply or contradict the terms of the settlement by allowing program accountants to calculate the grocer's monthly profits and losses (Claimant ID 100217021 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 16-30930, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8770).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Court Finds Work Testimony, Presence Of Asbestos Establishes Exposure

TRENTON, N.J. - Evidence that a man worked with asbestos and that Union Carbide Corp. supplied more than 40,000 pounds of the mineral to the facility at which he worked are enough to establish exposure, even without a direct link, a New Jersey appeals court held in reversing judgment May 17 (Thomasina Fowler, et al. v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals Inc., et al., No. A-2300-15T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - John Crane Takes RICO Claims Against Lawyers To Pennsylvania Federal Court

PHILADELPHIA - Less than two months after having its fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, John Crane Inc. (JCI) filed the identical claims against one of the firms and its principals in Pennsylvania federal court May 15 (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Michigan Governor, Employees Say They Are Immune From Flint Water Crisis Lawsuit

DETROIT - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and a group of state employees on May 17 filed a brief in Michigan federal court in support of a renewed motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them by residents of Flint, Mich., related to the lead-contaminated water crisis, contending that they are immune from suit (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Municipal Water Agency: 3M, DuPont, Others Polluted Drinking Water Source

CENTRE, Ala. - A municipal waterworks and sewer authority on May 15 filed a lawsuit against 3M Co., E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. and assorted other manufacturers in Alabama state court, alleging that they are liable for "negligent, willful, and wanton conduct" for the release of various toxic chemicals into the drinking water for Centre, Ala. (The Waterworks and Sewer Board of the Town of Centre v. 3M Company, et al., No. 13-CV-2017-900049.00, Ala. Cir., Cherokee Co.).

Mealey's Insurance - Alabama Federal Judge Says No Coverage Provided For Pollution Incident

MOBILE, Ala. - Because a third-party claimant seeking coverage for an environmental contamination lawsuit failed to prove that the environmental damages were unintended, no coverage is afforded under a policy's subsection that provides coverage for unintended pollution incidents caused by transportation activities, an Alabama federal judge said May 15 (Heartland Catfish Co. Inc., et al. v. Navigators Specialty Insurance Co., No. 15-368, S.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 73795).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Justice Receives Briefing On Import Of New York Asbestos Causation Ruling

NEW YORK - Parties filing post-trial motions after a $7 million asbestos-tainted talc verdict in New York briefed a justice on May 15 over whether a February ruling involving the state's causation standard eliminates the ability to prove asbestos cases using cumulative exposure and visible dust evidence or whether it simply reiterates the existing framework (Claudine Discala, as administrator of the estate of Joan Robusto v. Charles B. Chrystal Company Inc., et al., No. 190413/2013, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).