MIAMI - A couple's disclaimer of any claims arising from exposure during a man's service in the U.S. Navy aboard a submarine defeats federal officer removal, a federal judge held May 9 (Richard Batchelor v. American Optical Corp., et al., No. 16-21235, S.D. Fla.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A grinding machine's inevitable use with asbestos-containing automobile brakes during the period in question permits liability under strict liability and negligence theories, a California appeals court held May 9 (Renee Rondon, et al. v. Hennessy Industries Inc., Nos. A141686, A142411, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
SEATTLE - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced May 5 that SGL Automotive Carbon Fibers LLC will pay $125,000 for violations of the Emergency Planning and Community Right To Know Act (EPCRA) stemming from the company's failure to alert a local emergency planning committee about its storage of nitrogen and ammonium bicarbonate and its releases of ammonia and hydrogen cyanide at its Moses Lake, Wash., manufacturing plant.
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced May 4 that the Southeastern Pennsylvania Public Transit Authority (SEPTA) will pay $116,843 for violating underground storage tank regulations at five of its bus garages in Philadelphia.
MADISON, Wis. - Plaintiffs' spoliation of evidence allegations belonged in a discovery motion, not a request for a jury instruction, a judge held May 5 while also denying a motion for reconsideration of several previous rulings (Milton Boyer and Kathy Boyer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-286, Katrina Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-186, Virginia Prust, et al. v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-143, Roger Seehafer and Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 14-161, Wesley Sydow and Theresa Sydow v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-219, Brian Heckel, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 13-459, Dianne Jacobs v. Rapid American Corp., et al., No. 12-899, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59710; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59961).
PHOENIX - Because the release of sewer gases caused by the improper installation of a plumbing system is not traditional environmental pollution, a policy's pollution exclusion does not bar coverage for an underlying suit arising out of the release of gases into a shopping center; however, a question of fact exists regarding whether the insurer had a duty to contribute to the settlement of the underlying suit, an Arizona federal judge held May 6, denying reconsideration (National Fire Insurance Company of Hartford, et al. v. James River Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-765, D. Ariz.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60445).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Imputed knowledge of the dangers of asbestos combined with allegations that a pump company caused its products to enter the stream of commerce are sufficient for a punitive damages claim, a Connecticut federal judge held May 4 (James Schmidt v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 15-941, D. Conn.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59007).
CLEVELAND - An estate lacks sufficient evidence to hold a product distributor strictly liable for a manufacturer's asbestos-containing insulation, but presents enough evidence about the known dangers of asbestos during the period in question to proceed with a negligence cause of action, an Ohio appeals court held May 5 (Estate of Ian W. Blandford, et al. v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., No. 103030, Ohio App., 8th Dist.).
BALTIMORE - Evidence of conduct coming under valid government contracts satisfied the standard for removal. and a judge did not err in applying the frequency, regularity, proximity standard in a direct-evidence asbestos case, a federal appeals panel held May 6 (Ronald F. Hurley, et al. v. Alltite Gaskets, et al., No. 14-2049, Kevin Harper, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 14-2271, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8415).
CLEVELAND - A judge erred when he failed to conduct a hearing on the underpinnings of two experts' testimony that every exposure to asbestos contributes to disease, an Ohio appeals court held May 5 (Barbara Watkins, et al. v. Affinia Group, et al., No. CA-15-102538, Ohio App., 8th Dist.).
NEW ORLEANS - Whether a premises owner owed a duty to the wife of an independent contractor's employee is a jury question, a Louisiana appeals court held May 4 in reversing summary judgment on the issue (Elizabeth Gailyne Sutherland v. Alma Plantation LLC, et al., No. 2015-CA-1136, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2016 La. App. LEXIS 885).
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Food and Drug Administration on May 5 announced that it will soon regulate the sale and distribution of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco. The agency currently regulates cigarette, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco.
DETROIT - An employee of the City of Flint, Mich., who is one of three men indicted in connection with the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis, has reached a plea deal with the special prosecutor, the Michigan attorney general announced May 3.
TRENTON, N.J. - A group of residents on May 2 filed a purported class action in New Jersey federal court seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Gov. Chris Christie and officials associated with Newark Public Schools in relation to lead-contaminated drinking water in the city and its schools (Veronica Branch, et al v. Chris Christie, et al., No. 16-2467, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK - Plaintiffs may present expert testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures lead to mesothelioma, a New York justice held in an opinion posted May 3 (Alice Butera, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 102479/2003, Helena D. Miskill, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 109496/2003, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman who won an Engle progeny verdict against Philip Morris USA Inc. asked a federal judge in Florida on May 2 to deny the tobacco company's motion to stay her motion to reinstate her punitive damages award, saying it would be "needlessly cruel" to stay her 20-year-old case (Judith Berger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157, M.D. Fla.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - An automobile brake-grinding-machine manufacturer must face claims arising from a man's asbestos exposure because the evidence suggests the machines' use would inevitably create a hazardous condition, a California appeals court held April 28 (Susan Hetzel v. Hennessy Industries Inc., No. A144218, Calif. App., 1st Dist.; 2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3167).
LOS ANGELES - California's high court should accept review of a $2 million verdict in an asbestos case and firmly establish that testimony that any exposure to asbestos causes disease falls short of the state's causation standard, amici curiae argue in an April 29 brief (Nickole Davis, as personal representative, etc. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. S233753, Calif. Sup.).
NEW YORK - New York's high court will hear oral argument on May 3 on whether a lower court erred in affirming the consolidated trial of two asbestos cases involving different types of exposures and resulting disease (In the Matter of New York City Asbestos Litigation; Ruby E. Konstantin, individually and as executrix of the estate of Dave John Konstantin v. 630 Third Ave. Associates, et al., No. APL-2014-00317, N.Y. App.).
NEW YORK - An appeals court erred in finding that Ford USA's control over the brand's trademark placed it sufficiently in the chain of distribution for liability arising from Ford UK's asbestos-containing products, New York's high court held May 3 (Raymond Finerty, et al. v. Abex Corp., et al., No. 190187/10 14344 14343, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals is scheduled to hear oral arguments May 2 in a suit in which an insurer contends that an Oregon federal judge incorrectly ruled that a notice letter from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency related to the insured's liability for a Superfund site constitutes a suit under the insured's policies (Ash Grove Cement Co. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., Nos. 13-35900, 13-35905, 14-35298; 9th Cir.).
NEW YORK - A third-party defendant in a groundwater contamination lawsuit on April 28 filed a brief in New York federal court, arguing that the third-party plaintiff should not be permitted to amend its complaint because its claims are "futile" (The Plumbing Supply LLC v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. 14CV3674, S.D. N.Y.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on April 29 denied E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.'s motion to dismiss a punitive damages claim against it in a lawsuit brought for injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), determining that a "reasonable jury" could find that the evidence "clearly and convincingly" showed DuPont's "conscious disregard" for the rights and safety of the plaintiffs (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
INDIANAPOLIS - A divided Indiana Supreme Court on April 28 denied rehearing in the case striking down the state's 10-year statute of repose in asbestos cases (Larry Myers and Loa Myers v. Crouse-Hinds, Division of Cooper Industries Inc.; and Lorillard Tobacco Co. and Hollingsworth & Vose, No. 49S00-1502-MI-119, General Electric Co. v. Mary R. Geyman, et al., No. 49S00-1501-MI-35, Owens-Illinois Inc. v. Mary R. Geyman, et al., No. 49SS00-1501-MI-36, Ind. Sup.).
NEW YORK - New York's top court will hear oral argument on May 3 on whether manufacturers can be held liable for third-party asbestos-containing replacement parts, according to the court's website (In the Matter of New York City Asbestos Litigation; Doris Kay Dummitt, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton, et al., No. 2014-00209, N.Y. App.).