LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Insurer, Reinsurer Submit Briefs On New York High Court Decision's Application

NEW YORK - In a coverage dispute over asbestos litigation costs, a reinsurer and insurer submitted letters on Feb. 9 to the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals concerning how a New York high court ruling applies to a reinsurance contract's per-occurrence liability cap (Global Reinsurance Corporation of America v. Century Indemnity Co., No. 15-2164, 2nd Cir.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Class Of Oil Platform, Processing Facility Workers Certified In Oil Spill Suit

LOS ANGELES - A California federal judge on Feb. 9 certified one of two proposed subclasses, comprising oil platform and processing facility workers, in a lawsuit against the operators of a Santa Barbara, Calif., pipeline that leaked into the Pacific Ocean in May 2015, finding that common questions predominate (Keith Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., et al., No. 15-4113, C.D. Calif.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - County Says Judge's Widow's Asbestos Action Is Untimely Under Texas Law

HOUSTON - Texas law requires that claimants give notice of a workers' compensation claim within six months of the incident, rendering untimely a woman's asbestos action filed years after her husband retired as a judge, the county told a Texas appellate court on Feb. 12 (Jefferson County, Texas v. Ellarene Farris, et al., No. 01-17-00493-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Groups: Review Of EPA Permit For Dumping Fracking Waste In Gulf Of Mexico Needed

NEW ORLEANS - The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and two other environmental advocacy groups on Feb. 13 filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the Circuit Court should review an Environmental Protection Agency permit that allows oil companies to discharge toxins into the Gulf of Mexico, which the CBD argues puts coastal communities at risk (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. N/A, 5th Cir.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Agency Seeks To Rescind Most Of 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule

WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Feb. 13 announced its proposed changes to the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule, calling for the rescission of the majority of regulations on oil and gas operators who had been required to control the venting and flaring of methane produced by drilling activities.

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - DuPont C8 Trial Judge Approves Payment Of More Than $1.78M To Claims Administrator

COLUMBUS, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 9 granted a motion by plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), approving the interim disbursement of $1,787,500 to the claims administrator for services rendered (In re: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Shell To Pay $10M To Reduce Excessive Emissions From Industrial Flares

NEW ORLEANS - Shell Chemical LP on Feb. 12 entered into a consent decree in Louisiana federal court with the government and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in which the company agreed to spend $10 million to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the use of four industrial flares at its Norco, La., facility (United States of America, et al. v. Shell Chemical LP, No. 18-cv-104, E.D. La.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Class, Defendants Debate Jurisdiction And Discovery In Flint Lead Water Case

DETROIT - Engineering consultants named as defendants in the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., and the class of plaintiffs alleging that they have been injured by that water on Feb. 9 filed briefs debating whether the federal district court has jurisdiction to order certain discovery at the current stage of the litigation (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Affirms Exclusion Of Unchallenged Deposition Testimony In Asbestos Case

WILMINGTON, Del. - Defendants' postponement of a deposition did not waive their right to cross-examine the witness, who died two weeks after he gave truncated testimony, a Delaware judge held Feb. 7 in finding the testimony inadmissible (William Derek Sykes, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. N14C-03-028 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Supreme Court Declines To Review $18 Million Tobacco Verdict

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Feb. 9 declined to review an $18 million verdict in an Engle progeny trial in which tobacco companies argued for a new trial because of the trial court's failure to dismiss a juror for prejudice against tobacco companies (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al. v. Andy R. Allen Sr., No. SC17-2055, Fla. Sup., 2018 Fla. LEXIS 356).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Affirms Denial Of Resident's Intervention Request In Contamination Suit

HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Feb. 9 upheld a magistrate judge's ruling denying a motion to intervene filed by nearby residents of a Superfund site, holding that the request, which came two years after a settlement was reached between companies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was untimely (United States of America v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., No. 14-cv-312, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21524).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Appeals Panel Dismisses Engle Progeny Suit Because Of Dead Plaintiff

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeals on Feb. 8 dismissed an Engle progeny suit because her attorneys did not have the legal authority to file and maintain a suit on behalf of a dead woman (Raymond Staines v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 1D16-2655, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1817).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - City Cleared Of Cleanup Liability After Couple Fails To Respond To Motion

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The city of Davis, Calif., was cleared of liability from a couple's request for contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by a federal judge in California on Feb. 6 after the couple failed to respond to the city's motion for summary judgment (Charles H. Lewis, et al. v. Robert D. Russell, et al., No. 03-2646, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Study: Fracking Fluids Alter Mice At 'Environmentally Relevant' Exposure Levels

AMHERST, Mass. - Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Missouri-Columbia on Feb. 7 released a hydraulic fracturing study that suggests that the mammary gland in female mice is sensitive to mixtures of chemicals used in fracking at exposure levels that are "environmentally relevant." The researchers conclude that "the impact of these findings on the long-term health of the mammary gland, including its lactational capacity and its risk of cancer, should be evaluated in future studies."

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Appeals Panel Affirms Dismissal Of 73 Engle Progeny Suits

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeal on Feb. 8 affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss 73 Engle progeny suits filed by two law firms on behalf of deceased plaintiffs because "a dead person cannot file and maintain a lawsuit" (In Re 73 Engle-Related Cases, No. 1D16-2651, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1819).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Ohio Supreme Court Finds Cumulative Asbestos Exposure Opinion Lacking

CLEVELAND - Testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures all contribute to mesothelioma does not meet the standard for causation in Ohio, the state's supreme court held Feb. 8 in reversing a ruling that affirmed a more than $1 million judgment against Honeywell International Inc. (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 2016-1372, Ohio Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Emails Made Case Removable; Asbestos Disclaimer Keeps It In State Court

PORTLAND, Ore. - Contacts in furtherance of settlements suggesting asbestos exposures aboard U.S. Navy ships are "other paper" that make a case removable, but a woman's subsequent waiver of such claims warrants remanding the case, a federal judge in Oregon held Feb. 2. On Feb. 5, the defendants filed an emergency motion to stay remand (Maxine Pelker, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-1107, D. Ore., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17466).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 2nd Asbestos Disclaimer Can't Void Removal, Judge Finds

PORTLAND, Ore. - A woman who reasserted asbestos exposure allegations giving rise to federal jurisdiction after remand cannot avoid removal a second time by once again rejecting those claims, a federal judge in Oregon held Feb. 2 (Melissa Coury, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 16-1796, D. Ore., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17463).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Government, State Can Seek Future Response Costs For Superfund Site

GREEN BAY, Wis. - The federal government and state of Wisconsin can pursue claims for future response costs from a company that has not settled a lawsuit stemming from the remediation of the Lower Fox River Superfund site, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Feb. 5 in granting in part the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10cv910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18408).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Jury Awards Family Of Smoker $17.5 Million In Engle Progeny Suit

MIAMI - A Florida jury on Feb. 6 awarded the surviving family members of a smoker who died from lung cancer $10 million in punitive damages, bringing the total amount of damages to $17.5 million (Kenneth Gloger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-23377, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Settlement Cannot Be Enforced Until City Resolves Insurance Dispute

FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 2 denied a landowner's motion to enforce a settlement agreement with a city accused of contributing to perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination, finding that the city must first resolve a dispute with its insurance carriers to obtain coverage (Gary Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-CV-1257 AWI BAM, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17769).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Finds Allegations Against Employee Keep Asbestos Case In State Court

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Allegations against a former railway employee allegedly responsible for safety destroy complete diversity and warrant remanding five asbestos cases, a federal judge in Montana held Feb. 1 (Kenneth Braaten, et al. v. BNSF Railway Co., et al., No. 17-94, D. Mont.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - City Didn't Waive Asbestos-Claim Immunity, Colorado High Court Rules

DENVER - The city of Colorado Springs' complete demolition of an office building did not constitute construction or maintenance of the facility and did not waive its sovereign immunity protection against an asbestos claim, the Colorado Supreme Court held Feb. 5 (Smokebrush Foundation, et al. v. City of Colorado Springs, No. 2018 CO 10, Colo. Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Former Smoker Seeks Reinstatement Of $20 Million Punitive Damages Award

ATLANTA - A former smoker who won a total of $26.5 million in an Engle progeny suit asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 2 to reinstate $20 million in punitive damages, saying the trial judge erred by revoking the damages (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA Inc., Nos. 15-15633, 16-10021, 16-15957, 11th Cir.).

Mealey's Insurance - New York High Court To Decide If Coverage Due For Time No Insurance Was Available

ALBANY, N.Y. - After hearing oral arguments on Feb. 6, the New York Court of Appeals is set to decide whether an excess insurer owes coverage to its insured for the time periods when the insured was unable to purchase environmental liability insurance coverage even if the excess insurer's policies specifically stated that coverage is afforded only for damages occurring during the policy period (KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., et al., No. APL-2016-00236, N.Y. App.).