LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Refuses To Conduct 'Autopsy' Of Settlement Over Pipeline Spill

SALT LAKE CITY - A federal judge in Utah on Sept. 6 granted a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Pacificorp, doing business as Rocky Mountain Power, that precludes Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) from obtaining a portion of a settlement it paid to homeowners affected by a 2010 oil spill, finding that such relief would require the judge to perform an "autopsy" of the settlement (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144260).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Expert Qualified To Testify On Cleanup Costs' Reasonableness, Judge Says

SALT LAKE CITY - An engineer can proffer testimony that Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) spent approximately $4.4 million to $5.6 million in unnecessary costs when responding to two oil spills in 2010, a federal judge in Utah ruled Sept. 7, finding that he is qualified and that the methodology underlying his opinion is reliable (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Alabama Court Reinstates Class Action Over Asbestos Attorneys' Compensation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A judge improperly concluded that ambiguity in a contract provision governing how hundreds of asbestos plaintiffs would compensate their counsel overcame class action claims arising from the attorneys' imposition of an additional fee, the Alabama Supreme Court held Sept. 1 in once again reinstating the case (Mary Hall, et al. v. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., No. 1151077, Ala. Sup., 2017 Ala. LEXIS 81).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Says Chemical Injury Plaintiff Did Not Allege His Water Was Tainted

ALBANY, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 dismissed a chemical injury lawsuit on grounds that the plaintiff failed to allege that his injuries were caused by contamination to his personal water supply (James Donavan v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., No. 16-294, N.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143198).

Mealey's Litigation Procedure - Centerra And Kyrgyz Reach Possible $60M Settlement Of Mining Claims

TORONTO - A Canadian gold mining company on Sept. 6 said it has reached a proposed settlement with the Kyrgyz Republic that would resolve all outstanding disputes related to a mining project, announcing that it will pay more than $60 million to resolve environmental and other claims related to the operation of the mine.

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Attorney: Revive Case Seeking To Unseal Asbestos Client-Coaching Deposition

DALLAS - A motion seeking to unseal Russell Budd's 1997 deposition involving a memo allegedly showing his law firm coaching clients for their own depositions should proceed to a ruling on the merits, an attorney told a Texas appeals court on Sept. 5 (Christine Cole Biederman v. Beverly Jean Brown, et al., No. 01-07-00263-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Suspends Clean Water Act Trial To Wait For 9th Circuit Ruling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Sept. 5 suspended the upcoming trial date for a lawsuit accusing a scrap metal company of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), agreeing with the defendants that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' upcoming ruling in U.S. v. Robertson could alter the standard for what constitutes a navigable waterway of the United States (California Sportfishing Protection Alliance v. Chico Scrap Metal Inc., et al., No. 10-cv-01207-GEB-AC, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143342).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Alabama Court Reinstates Class Action Over Asbestos Attorneys' Compensation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A judge improperly concluded that ambiguity in a contract provision governing how hundreds of asbestos plaintiffs would compensate their counsel overcame class action claims arising from the attorneys' imposition of an additional fee, the Alabama Supreme Court held Sept. 1 in once again reinstating the case (Mary Hall, et al. v. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., No. 1151077, Ala. Sup., 2017 Ala. LEXIS 81).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Court Allows Cumulative Exposure Opinion, Affirms $9M Asbestos Verdict

MIAMI - A court properly admitted an expert's testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures were sufficient to cause a man's mesothelioma, a Florida appeals court held Sept. 6 in differentiating the testimony from the opinion that every exposure leads to disease and affirming a $9 million verdict (Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., et al. v. Rosa-Maria Britt, et al., No. 3D16-2583, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 12834).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Magistrate Judge: Bare Metal Defense Frees 5 Companies From Asbestos Case

WILMINGTON, Del. - A couple produces some evidence of exposure to products from named defendants but no evidence the products contained asbestos or that the work in question released asbestos, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held Aug. 31 in applying the bare metal defense and recommending summary judgment for five companies (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Marilyn Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140328).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Cleanup Company's Claims Against Gas Station Barred By Arbitration, Judge Says

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - An environmental remediation company's counterclaims against the owner of a gas station for breach of a fixed price remediation agreement (FPA) were dismissed by a federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 after the judge ruled that the claims were previously litigated during an arbitration proceeding (Plumbing Supply, LLC v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 14 CV 3674, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142747).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Asbestos-Talc Evidence Destruction Spat Parties Continue Throwing Barbs

NEWARK, N.J. - Former asbestos plaintiffs adopted a frivolous interpretation of a discovery ruling in an effort to avoid required production, a talc company told a New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 30. In a Sept. 1 letter, the plaintiffs, who claim that they were defrauded into settling claims for far less than they were worth after the company used a carefully crafted record retention policy to destroy evidence of asbestos contamination of its talc, lamented that the defendant brought the judge into the dispute before allowing the parties or special discovery master to resolve it (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Virginia Top Court Applies 'Risk Of Harm' Analysis To FELA Asbestos Settlement

ROANOKE, Va. - A release precluding liability for future asbestos injuries contemplated by the parties does not violate Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), the Virginia Supreme Court held Aug. 31 in applying the risk-of-harm standard (Alan Barry Cole, et al. v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., No. 161163, Va. Sup., 2017 Va. LEXIS 109).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Tire Companies Owe $11M For Selling Contaminated Buildings

DES MOINES, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on Sept. 5 ruled that two tire companies are liable for $11 million under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for selling buildings on a Superfund site in the state that were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (United States of America v. Dico, Inc., et al., No. 10-cv-503, S.D. Iowa).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Pennsylvania Appeals Panel: Reinsurer Owes $7.9M To Insurers On Asbestos Claims

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A reinsurer owes $7.9 million to two insurers for asbestos claims, a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Sept. 1, rejecting the reinsurer's argument that it already paid out $11 million under specific limits of the policies (Century Indemnity Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Co., No. 1280 EDA 2016, Pa. Super., 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3300).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Texas Court: Employer Liable For Asbestos Exposure, But Economic Award Too High

DALLAS - Generalized knowledge of the risk asbestos posed is sufficient to show that an employer acted with gross negligence in exposing an individual, a divided Texas appeals court held Aug. 30 in affirming a verdict but reducing the economic damages award (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 05-15-00001-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 8382).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Affidavit Doesn't Establish Timeliness Of Asbestos Suit, Delaware Judge Says

WILMINGTON, Del. - An unsigned and unnotarized affidavit stating that a woman didn't learn of the potential asbestos connection to lung cancer until after her attorneys filed suit is insufficient evidence on which to deny summary judgment under the statute of limitations, a Delaware judge held Aug. 29 (Sherrie Bagwell, et al. v. BorgWarner Morse Tec LLC, et al., No. N14C-06-023 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Citing U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Allows Discovery On Jurisdiction In Asbestos Case

WILMINGTON, Del. - Citing the recent changes to how courts handle jurisdiction wrought by the U.S. Supreme Court's Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California ruling, a Delaware judge on Aug. 30 granted an asbestos plaintiff additional time to conduct discovery into the issue of personal jurisdiction over a Michigan company (Derry L. Middleton, et al. v. McCord Corp., et al., No. N14C-05-261 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Landowners Not Liable For Asbestos Not Inherent To Premises, Judge Says

WILMINGTON, Del. - Landowners have a duty under Louisiana law to protect contractors only from hazards of which they have knowledge and that are inherent to their property, a Delaware judge held in granting summary judgment to three premises defendants Aug. 30 (Sandra Kivell, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. N15C-07-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 3rd Circuit Affirms Asbestos Attorney's Overbilling Restitution Sentence

PHILADELPHIA - A lawyer who pleaded guilty to inserting his firm's clients as defendants and then billing them as if he represented them in the cases cannot contest a portion of his restitution sentence he claims was legitimately spent, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 29 (United States v. Arobert C. Tonagbanua, No. 17-1815, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16506).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Delaware Judge Won't Consolidate For Trial Asbestos Cases Against Georgia-Pacific

WILMINGTON, Del. - A shared defendant and expert witness alone do not provide a sufficient nexus to warrant consolidated trial, a Delaware judge held Aug. 29 (In re Asbestos Litigation, Limited to: Craig Cantarano, Donald Gladu, Nos. N15C-10-30 ASB, N15C-09-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co., 2017 Del. Super. LEXIS 425).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Magistrate Judge Allows Punitive Damage Claim Against John Crane To Proceed

WILMINGTON, Del. - Seemingly contradictory corporate testimony regarding any steps a company took to prevent asbestos exposures, and evidence involving media and state laws detailing the dangers exposure presented warrant allowing a couple to pursue a punitive damages claim against John Crane Inc., a federal magistrate judge in Delaware recommended Aug. 30 (Icom Henry Evans, et al. v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 15-681 D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139582).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Appeals Panel Vacates $10 Million Engle Progeny Verdict

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An appellate panel in Florida on Aug. 30 reversed a $10 million judgment awarded to the widow of a man who died from lung cancer because of his addiction to cigarettes after finding that the trial court erred by allowing the U.S. surgeon general's report on cigarettes into evidence (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Rose Pollari, No. 4D16-334, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 12470).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 7th Circuit Rejects Asbestos Expert's Cumulative Exposure Testimony

CHICAGO - Expert testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures causes disease is not significantly different than the opinion that every exposure causes a disease, a Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Aug. 31. The panel also found no prejudice from a defendant company's investigation into a juror (Charles Krik v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. 15-3112, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16795).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 9th Circuit Panel Affirms Dismissal Of Counterclaims In Tobacco Taxes Suit

SAN FRANCISCO - A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 29 upheld a district court decision to dismiss counterclaims against an Indian tribe in a tobacco tax lawsuit after finding that the counterclaims are barred by sovereign immunity (Quinault Indian Nation v. Mary Linda Pearson, No. 15-35263, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16510).