HARRISBURG, Pa. - Expert testimony that every dose of asbestos contributes to the cumulative total simply states accepted scientific fact and is not the type of "every exposure" testimony rejected by precedent, a divided Pennsylvania Supreme Court held Nov. 22 in affirming a nearly $1 million verdict (Richard Rost and Joyce Rost v. Ford Motor Co., No. 56 EAP 2014, Pa. Sup.).
CONCORD, N.H. - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer asked a New Hampshire court on Nov. 21 to approve a $13.8 million settlement agreement with a bankrupt company's asbestos personal injury trust (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Company, No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Sup., Merrimack Co.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A state system designed to compensate injured police officers does not constitute a workers' compensation system and allows for a tort action alleging exposure to asbestos while in the employ of the city of Buffalo, a divided New York Court of Appeals held Nov. 21 (In the Matter of James R. Diegelman, et al. v. City of Buffalo, et al., No. 168, N.Y. App.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Nov. 21 filed a brief in the perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) injury multidistrict litigation, arguing that the MDL court should deny the plaintiffs' motion to compel the production of underlying data the company used to create witness summaries for a cancer registry used in the first bellwether trial (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
LOS ANGELES - Adjudication of a premises liability asbestos claim arising from work in Iran did not resolve the question of duty under a negligence cause of action, a California appeals court held Nov. 17 (Nader Kordestani, et al. v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. B257193, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
WEST DRAYTON, England - Oil and mining industrial services company Cape PLC announced Nov. 18 that a changing legal landscape means potential damages from an upcoming January trial over liabilities for a former asbestos factory could exceed expectations, potentially endangering a payment scheme designed to compensate injured workers and their family members.
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Whether an asbestos plaintiff claiming lung cancer uses tobacco is a factual determination for a court and does not require a report from a competent medical authority, an Ohio appellate court held Nov. 17 (Bobby Turner, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. 103475, Ohio App., 8th Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 4647).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A motion filed by industry groups seeking to intervene in a lawsuit brought by a number of environmental groups over the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's alleged failure to update oil and gas waste regulations was denied by a federal judge in the District of Columbia on Nov. 18, after he found that the industrial groups lack standing (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Gina McCarthy, No. 16-842, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159892).
SEATTLE - The Sierra Club announced on its website on Nov. 15 that the environmental group had reached a settlement in principle with BNSF Railway Co. that would require the company to spend $1 million on conservation and restoration projects in Washington and clean up and remove coal dust from areas near waterways where the company's trains carry coal to resolve a lawsuit in Washington federal court (Sierra Club, et al. v. BNSF Railway Company, No. C13-967, W.D. Wash.).
CHICAGO - An asbestos defendant's conduct during a trial threatens to open "floodgates" to parties investigating jurors, a man told the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 14. Plaintiff Charles Krik also told the court that had a subsequent judge not misapplied a previous ruling, an expert's testimony that cumulative exposures contributed to his development of lung cancer would have tipped the case in his favor (Charles Krik v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. 15-3112, 7th Cir.).
NAPLES, Fla. - A Florida jury on Nov. 14 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny suit, determining that a woman knew or should have known that she had chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) before the cutoff date to file an Engle progeny suit (Patricia Kloppenburg v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 1006472CA, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir. Collier Co.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on Nov. 14 awarded $4 million to a woman who developed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) after finding that she developed the disease by smoking cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. (Mary Howles v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007-CV-034919, Fla. Cir., 17th Jud., Broward Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - Attorneys for a group of Pennsylvania residents and a power plant presented oral arguments before the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 10, debating the causation of the residents' injuries, including cancer, which the residents allege stem from exposure to radioactive materials emitted from the power plant. The plaintiffs' attorney argued that qualitative differential diagnosis was a valid means of showing that the residents had been exposed to radiation, while attorneys for the company argued that the plaintiffs had failed to establish exposure (Michelle McMunn, et al. v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., et al, No. 15-3506 [consolidated], 3rd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on Nov. 10 granted a motion to dismiss a complaint that sought to assign an "R" rating to any movie that depicts tobacco use because movies are "expressive works" and are entitled to protection under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Timothy Forsyth v. Motion Picture Association of America, et al., No. 16-CV-00935-RS, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156719).
BANGOR, Maine - A scrap metal company accused by the federal government of violating the terms of a permit allowing for discharges of storm water runoff can challenge the enforceability of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a federal judge in Maine ruled Nov. 10 in granting in part and denying in part the government's motion to strike 23 affirmative defenses raised by the company (United States of America v. Kennebec Scrap Iron Inc., No. 16-cv-191-GZS, D. Maine; 2016 U. S. Dist. LEXIS 156004).
DETROIT - The city of Flint, Mich., on Nov. 11 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan opposing a motion filed by state employees who want the lawsuit brought by residents for injuries from lead-contaminated drinking water transferred to a different venue (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Gov. Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Nov. 10 ruled that plaintiffs who sued Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) for injuries from radioactive waste contamination could not modify the scheduling order in the case because they had enough time to submit an expert report yet failed to do so (Amanda Alexander, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-1343, W.D. Okla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155978).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on Nov 10 granted a preliminary injunction to residents of Flint, Mich., who sued the city and state officials related to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, ordering the defendants to provide door-to-door delivery of bottled water (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
STATESBORO, Ga. - The United States on Nov. 8 filed suit against the Southern Tobacco Co. in federal court in Georgia alleging that it violated the Fair and Equitable Tobacco Reform Act of 2004 (FERTA) by failing to pay up to $30,000 in assessments (United States of America v. Southern Tobacco Co., No. 6:16-cv-00152, S.D. Ga.).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Wisconsin on Nov. 7 stayed an asbestos case pending the outcome of appeals involving dismissal of nuisance claims in similar cases and said there was no reason to allow discovery during the stay (Pamela Kilty, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-515, W.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153971).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal judge in Ohio presiding over the multidistrict litigation brought by residents against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. pertaining to alleged injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Nov. 7 denied the company's motion for summary judgment on specific causation related to the first non-bellwether trial on grounds that the plaintiff's disease was listed as a "linked disease" for the purpose of the litigation (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
LOS ANGELES - An insurer has a duty to defend its insureds against underlying environmental contamination claims because the policy's chemical discharge exclusion does not apply to the underlying suit; however, the insureds are not entitled to independent counsel, a California federal judge said Nov. 7 (Hollyway Cleaners & Laundry Co., et al. v. Central National Insurance Company of Omaha Inc., No. 13-7497, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155003).
DETROIT - Employees with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Nov. 7 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that it should stay all proceedings in the lead-contaminated water case brought by residents of Flint, Mich., against the state pending a final decision on a prior motion for change of venue (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).
ST. LOUIS - An interlocutory appeal of an order finding that a company's registration in the state created personal jurisdiction would only delay resolution of the litigation, a federal judge in Missouri held Nov. 7 (Berg Hovsepian v. The Adel Wiggins Group, et al., No. 16-414, E.D. Mo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153999).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Texas was ordered on Nov. 7 to rewrite a decision awarding summary judgment to defendants accused of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), after a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel found that the eight-page opinion was "bereft of citations to record evidence" and that it "provides this court with virtually no guidance as to how the court applied the facts to the law" (United States of America v. Thomas E. Lipar, et al., No. 15-20625, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 20095).