TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The failure of a couple to cite the proper statute section in a letter of intent to sue a railway company for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) as a result of an oil spill that discharged more than 11,000 barrels of oil onto their property warranted the dismissal of their claims under the act, a federal judge in Alabama ruled Feb. 2 (David W. Grayson, et al. v. Alabama & Gulf Coast Railway LLC, et al., No. 15-cv-01661-LSC, N.D. Ala.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12054).
DETROIT - A putative class on Jan. 31 filed a lawsuit in Michigan federal court against state officials who the class contends are liable for damages for acts that "unilaterally" resulted in contaminating the drinking water in Flint, Mich., with lead (Beatrice Boler, et al. v. Darnell Earley, et al., No. 16-10323, E.D. Mich.).
PHILADELPHIA - Adherence to government specifications are enough for removal, and a defendant need not show the military rejected asbestos-related warnings, an aircraft manufacturer tells the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a Jan. 28 brief (Steven Papp, et al. v. Fore-Kast Sales Company Inc., et al., No. 15-2851, 3rd Cir.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A federal judge in North Carolina on Jan. 29 denied a motion filed by Duke Energy Carolinas LLC in which the company sought certification for an interlocutory appeal in a groundwater contamination case, ruling that the company failed to carry its burden of demonstrating that there were "extraordinary circumstances" warranting the appeal (Yadkin Riverkeeper, et al. v. Duke Energy Carolinas LLC, No. 14-00753, M.D. N.C.).
PHILADELPHIA - Plaintiffs are trying to circumvent the decades-long deferral of punitive damages in the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation under which the parties prepared for trial, Crane Co. told a federal judge Feb. 2 (Lynn C. Dobrick, et al. v. Foster Wheeler LLC, et al., No. 10-3202, E.D. Pa.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California court did not err in entering judgment in an excess insurer's favor because the insured was required to obtain the excess insurer's consent prior to settling an underlying environmental contamination suit, the Fourth District California Court of Appeal said Feb. 1 (The Doe Run Resources Corp. v. The Fidelity & Casualty Company of New York, No. G050689, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 3).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals on Jan. 29 granted a joint motion from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and six environmental groups for an order that would require the agency to promulgate financial regulations on the hard rock mining industry to ensure that companies have money set aside for possible remediation of contamination pursuant to Section 108(b) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (In re: Idaho Conservation League, et al., No. 14-1149, U.S. App., D.C. Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 1437).
ATLANTA - A product manufacturer cannot be liable for the asbestos exposure of household members who never used, worked near or even encountered the products in question, CertainTeed Corp. tells the Georgia Supreme Court in a Feb. 1 brief urging it to reject imposition of such a duty (CertainTeed Corp. v. Marcella Fletcher, No. S15G1903, Ga. Sup.).
KYOTO, Japan - Nine manufacturers and the government owe 27 individuals 216 million yen for failing to warn about or prevent exposure to asbestos, a Japanese court found Jan. 29, Mealey Publications has learned.
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana state appeals panel on Jan. 27 affirmed an attorney fee award of $457,500 in a lead-paint-poisoning lawsuit on grounds that the money had been set aside for fee awards and the attorney in question made it possible for the lead-poisoning plaintiffs to receive their disbursements "expeditiously" (Casey Billieson v. City of New Orleans, No. 2015-0858, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2016 La. App. LEXIS 152).
CHARLESTON, S.C. - A plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence that a manufacturer incorporated asbestos-containing gaskets into its product in a way that made exposure "inevitable," a federal judge in South Carolina held Jan. 27 (Linda T. Dandridge, et al. v. Crane Co., et al., No. 12-484, D. S.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9378).
SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on Jan. 29 denied an excess insurer's motion for summary judgment on the insured's bad faith claims after determining that the excess insurer had other options, such as issuing a reservation-of-rights letter and seeking a judicial determination on its coverage obligation, prior to denying coverage for underlying environmental contamination proceedings (King County v. Travelers Indemnity Co., et al., No. C14-1957, W.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10988).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Five cities that have sued Monsanto Co., Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC seeking to recover the costs of removing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination from storm water on Jan. 26 asked the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) to consolidate and centralize the cases in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California before Judge Edward J. Davila (In re: Stormwater/Impaired Waters PCB Contamination Litigation, MDL No. 2697, JPMDL).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Jan. 28 affirmed without opinion a jury's verdict awarding the children of a woman who died from smoking-related illnesses $5 million after finding that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was responsible for her lung cancer (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Willie James Cheeley, et al., No. 4D14-1594, Fla. App. 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 1111).
LANSING, Mich. - A political advocacy group in Michigan on Jan. 28 released emails that show that in January 2015, officials in the state government were concerned enough with the water quality in Flint, Mich., that the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) agreed to provide water coolers for government workers in the city, while at the same time another state agency was telling residents that the water was safe to drink.
PHILADELPHIA - An administratively dismissed nonmalignancy claim belongs with a bankruptcy estate, but a subsequent malignancy is a distinct disease under the discovery rule and falls outside the estate's purview, a federal judge in Pennsylvania held Jan. 25 (Willard E. Bartel, administrator for Henry E. Boden v. A-C Product Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-31030, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8048; Willard Bartel [Felix Long], et al. v. A-C Product Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-31575, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8047).
SEATTLE - The City of Seattle sued Monsanto Co., Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC in Washington federal court on Jan. 25 complaining that the defendants' manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has contaminated storm water that runs off into the Duwamish River, which runs through the heart of the city (City of Seattle v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 16-cv-00107, W.D. Wash.).
CHICAGO - Genuine issues of material fact exist regarding a premises owner's control over work at its facility and whether the work constituted maintenance or improvements to real property barred by the state's statute of repose, a federal judge in Wisconsin held Jan. 22 (Beverly Ahnert, et al. v. Brand Insulation Inc., et al., No. 13-1456, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 427).
MILWAUKEE - The federal judge in Wisconsin presiding over eight lead paint poisoning lawsuits on Jan. 26 issued a comprehensive ruling denying the defendants' motion for certification of her decision on personal jurisdiction for the purpose of an interlocutory appeal, saying that the best way to advance the litigation is to proceed to discovery (Glenn Burton Jr. v. American Cyanamid Company, et al., No. 07-0303; Ravon Owens v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0441; Ernest Gibson v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0864; Brionn Stokes v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0865; Cesar Sifuentes v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 10-0075; Maniya Allen v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 11-0055, Deziree Valoe v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 11- 0425; Dijonae Trammell v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 14-1423, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9596).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A settlement agreement and release, entered into by numerous parties involved in an environmental contamination coverage suit in 1989, included two battery plants that the insured formerly operated in New Jersey, a Michigan federal judge said Jan. 27 (Employers Insurance of Wausau v. McGraw-Edison Co., et al., No. 86-48, W.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9130).
LIMA, Ohio - Asbestosis refers to a specific disease and not asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer, an Ohio appeals court held Jan. 25 in affirming a widow's right to participate in the state's workers' compensation system (Fayrene Dennis, surviving spouse of Johnny Dennis v. General Motors Corp., et al., No. 4-15-09, Ohio App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 215).
DETROIT - The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups on Jan. 27 filed a lawsuit in Michigan federal court, alleging that state and local officials failed to comply with the federal law that requires cities to deliver safe drinking water to the public and showed "complete disregard" for the residents of Flint, Mich., in letting the lead water crisis in that city to develop (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court on Jan. 22 denied a motion to rehear its decision that that an administrative action initiated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency constitutes a "suit" as that term is defined under the insurance policies at issue (McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. v. The Phoenix Insurance Co., et al., No. 14-0465, Texas Sup.; 2016 Tex. LEXIS 58).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) on Jan. 25 declared a "water supply emergency" for the Village of Sebring and proposed revoking the license of the agency that supplies drinking water to the village due to excessive levels of lead in the water.
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Jan. 25 that as part of the probe into the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., he had appointed a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to establish a "conflict wall" between the special counsel and the Attorney General's Office amid accusations from the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) that the attorney general should be replaced by an independent investigator.