ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on May 12 awarded the widow of a smoker $5 million in punitive damages in an Engle progeny suit, bringing the total award to $6.8 million (Mary Sheffield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2013-CA-009469, Fla. 9th Jud. Cir., Orange Co.).
JACKSON, Tenn. - A divided Tennessee Court of Appeals panel vacated a $4.6 million take-home asbestos verdict May 12, finding that the jury instructions improperly allowed a jury to find negligence without first finding a defective product. All three judges questioned precedent governing how the state's courts decide whether a duty exists to prevent harm (Joyce and Ronnie Stockton v. Ford Motor Co., No. W2016-01175-COA-R3-CV, Tenn. App., 2017 Tenn. App. LEXIS 308).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 11 refused to overturn the ruling in Commander Oil Corp. v. Barlo Equip. Corp., 215 F.3d 321, 329 (2000), which sets out when a lessee can be considered an owner of a property under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to reverse a federal judge in New York's decision to award summary judgment to defendant companies accused of contaminating a property with perchloroethylene (PCE) (Next Millenium Realty, LLC, et al. v. Adchem Corp., et al., No. 16-1260-CV, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8476).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Evidence that a farm hand worked with a company's tractors during a certain period does not establish that the parts he encountered originated with the manufacturer, a judge in Delaware held May 10 (Nathanial Harris v. Deere & Co., et al., No. N14C-03-220 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A woman allegedly exposed to asbestos carried home on her husband's clothing has not alleged a change in law or newly discovered evidence that warrants revisiting a ruling that a manufacturer is not liable for her injuries, a Delaware state judge held May 11 (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Atlas Turner Ltd., et al., No. N14C-01-287 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
PASADENA, Calif. - Attorneys for the City of Pomona, Calif., and a chemical company debated before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 10 whether the city's groundwater contamination lawsuit should be reopened due to the city's allegation that a district court improperly excluded some of the testimony of its expert witness while the court improperly permitted the defendant's expert to "confuse the jury" (City of Pomona, Calif. v. SQM North America Corp., No. 15-56062, 9th Cir.).
BELLE CHASSE, La. - Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier on May 9 announced that a $45 million settlement had been reached between the parish and BP Exploration & Production Inc. over damages stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, E.D. La.).
OCALA, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on May 9 awarded a woman $858,209 in compensatory damages after finding that her husband's cancer and death was caused by his addiction to cigarettes (Joy Lawrence v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2009-CA-000178, Fla. 5th Jud. Cir. Marion Co.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an additional brief in Oklahoma federal court on May 5 contending that the plaintiffs cannot designate the company's CEO as a specific witness under federal procedural rules (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Philip Morris USA Inc. says in a May 8 reply brief in California federal court in support of its motion to dismiss a wrongful death suit against it and another tobacco company that the man who brought the suit failed to join his children as parties and that he cannot represent them because he is suspended from practicing law (Julius Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-618, E.D. Calif.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on May 8 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court arguing that 10 prior orders issued in a lawsuit brought against it by residents who argue that the company is liable for contaminating their drinking water should be adopted in another lawsuit that asserts the same causes of action (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).
INDIANAPOLIS - A federal judge in Indiana on May 8 denied a defendant company's motion to dismiss a claim for contribution under the Indiana Environmental Legal Action (ELA) statute, finding that there is no case law to support the argument that the act does not allow for such a remedy (Von Duprin LLC v. Moran Electric Service, Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-01942-TWP-DML, S.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69638).
PHILADELPHIA - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced May 8 that Potomac Electric Power Co. has agreed to pay $54,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by failing to properly label store and manage hazardous waste containing lead and mercury at its Washington, D.C., facility.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on May 5 affirmed a ruling by the Board of Veterans Appeals that denied a man's claim for benefits from exposure to Agent Orange on grounds that the board's decision was "not clearly erroneous" (Larry Clemons v. David J. Shulkin, No. 15-4195, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 662).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - While not uncontested, enough evidence supports a law judge's conclusion that an employee was both exposed to asbestos and other chemicals within the compensable period for a workers' compensation claim and that the exposure was significant enough to cause bladder cancer, a Pennsylvania appeals court held May 4 (Kimberly Clark Corp. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board, No. 656 C.D. 2016, Pa. Cmwlth., 2017 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 175).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - In a May 8 stipulation of dismissal filed in New York federal court, Amtrak and one of its insurers notified the court that they have agreed to settle their claims in an environmental contamination and asbestos injury coverage suit (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, et al. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., et al., No. 14-4717, E.D. N.Y.).
NEWARK, N.J. - A dispute among several companies, including former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc., over who should pay for the cleanup of a 26-acre polluted industrial site in New Jersey does not belong in federal bankruptcy court, a federal judge ruled May 5 in agreeing to remand the case to state court (G-I Holdings Inc., et al. v. Ashland Inc., et al., No. 17-0077, D. N.J.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - The nature of coke oven batteries makes their installation a service more so than a product, a New York appeals court held in reversing denial of summary judgment and dismissing a case alleging asbestos exposures (In the matter of the Eighth Judicial District Asbestos Litigation, Donald J. Terwilliger, et al. v. Beazer East Inc., et al., No. 85 CA 16-00947, N.Y. Sup. App., 4th Dist., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3580).
BALTIMORE - Testimony from experts in support of Crane Co.'s claim that it followed precise government specifications in manufacturing its valves and that the U.S. Navy would not have permitted additional warnings suffices to keep the asbestos case in federal court in Maryland, a judge held in denying remand May 5 (John C. Dugger Jr., et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Cop, et al., No. 16-3912, D. Md.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on May 2 granted a motion filed by three environmental groups seeking $420,790 in attorney fees, finding that they were prevailing parties in their Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit and that the attorneys' calculations were reasonable (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Fola Coal Company, LLC, No. 13-21588, Consolidated with No. 13-16044, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66367).
NEWARK, N.J. - Two lawsuits stemming from contamination at a site formerly owned by Aluminum Corporation of America, A.P. (Alcoa) were consolidated for discovery purposes by a federal judge in New Jersey on May 3 because the judge found that the suits shared common issues of fact and because consolidation would benefit judicial economy (Borough of Edgewater v. Waterside Construction, LLC, et al., No. 14-5060, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 67976).
NEW YORK -
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on May 1 declined to decide a request by former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc. to enforce its reorganization plan injunction to bar indemnification claims for cleanup of a polluted industrial site, saying G-I's appeal of a remand order in the dispute deprives her of jurisdiction (In re: G-I Holdings, Inc., et al., Nos. 01-30135 and 01-38790, D. N.J. Bkcy., 2017 Bankr. LEXIS 1194).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Environmental groups filed two amicus curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court on May 1, arguing that the high court should hear the appeal of a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney, who challenge an $18.5 billion fraud judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. on grounds that "Chevron's schemes in Ecuador and New York highlight why courts do not entertain collateral attacks on foreign judgments" (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16-1178, U.S. Sup.).
ST. LOUIS - Sufficient evidence supports failure-to-warn and design defect claims against Crane Co., as well as a jury's eventual $10 million punitive damages award, a Missouri appeals court held May 2 while also rejecting the company's argument that it could not be liable for asbestos-containing parts used on its bare-metal valves (Jeanette G. Poage, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. ED 103953, Mo. App., Eastern Dist., 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 362).