JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 28 awarded the estate of a man who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) $6.4 million after finding that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s role in a conspiracy among tobacco companies to hide the dangers of smoking led to the man's disease and death (Linda Prentice v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-000386, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir. Duval Co.).
CHICAGO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 28 announced that it had reached an agreement with Sears Home Improvement Products Inc. under which the company will pay $400,000 to settle claims that it violated federal laws pertaining to toxic substances and property renovation involving lead-based paint hazards (United States of America v. Sears Home Improvement Products Inc., No. 16-9302, N.D. Ill.).
PHILADELPHIA - The argument that a valve company did not have a duty to warn about the dangers of third-party asbestos parts ignores both a previous ruling in the case and legal precedent, a federal judge in Philadelphia held Sept. 28 in affirming a $1,085,000 million verdict (Lynn C. Dobrick, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 10-03202, E.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives on Sept. 28 passed a resolution to improve water resources across the country, including $170 million for repairs to the water infrastructure in Flint, Mich., which continues to deal with lead-contaminated drinking water.
DETROIT - An employee of Genesee County, Mich., who is being sued by residents who contend that he is among the parties responsible for the city's lead-contaminated water crisis, on Sept. 27 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that the District Court should deny the plaintiffs' motion for an extension of time in which to file their brief opposing the employees' motion to dismiss the lawsuit (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).
INDIANAPOLIS - Premises owners can be liable for the conduct of their employees and independent contractors where insufficient evidence suggests that an electrician's own work caused his exposure to asbestos, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Sept. 28 (Larry Myers and Loa Myers v. Bremen Casting Inc. and Mastic Home Exteriors Inc., No. 49A04-1503-MI-113, Ind. App.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. on Sept. 26 moved in New York federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a class of residents who contend that the companies are liable for contaminating their drinking water with perfluorooctanoic acid, referred to as C8, contending that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and that the claims should be dismissed under the primary jurisdiction doctrine (Michelle Baker, et al. v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., et al., No. 16-917, N.D. N.Y.).
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other state officials on Sept. 23 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court arguing that a lawsuit brought against them by a group of residents seeking compensatory and punitive damages in relation to lead-contaminated drinking water should be dismissed because the officials are entitled to sovereign immunity (Veronica Branch, et al v. Chris Christie, et al., No. 16-2467, D. N.J.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California did not apply too narrow of a standard when denying an environmental group's request for $1.2 million in attorney fees and costs in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit, another federal judge held Sept. 23 in denying the group's motion to reconsider the decision, holding that the group did not provide proper documentation to support the requested amount (California Sportfishing Protection Alliance v. Chico Scrap Metal Inc., et al., No. 10-cv-01207-GEB-AC, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130807).
JACKSON, Miss. - A judge erred by relying on a previously reversed ruling in deciding to once again wipe out a $3,856,346.17 verdict in an asbestos drilling mud case, the Mississippi Supreme Court held Sept. 22 (Elsie Smith, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 2014-CA-01371-SCT, Miss. Sup.; 2016 Miss. LEXIS 399).
ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. - Resolution of conflicting evidence regarding a company's supply of asbestos to a joint compound maker is best left to a jury, a federal judge concluded Sept. 21 in declining to grant summary judgment to the last remaining defendant in a case (Maria J. Lee, et al. v. Advance Auto Parts Inc., et al., No. 14-230, E.D. N.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128703).
RALEIGH, N.C. - The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Sept. 23 announced that it reached a settlement with Duke Energy Carolinas LLC under which the company will pay $6 million to the state for violations associated with a coal ash spill at its power plant on the Dan River that resulted in groundwater contamination (In the matter of: Duke Energy Carolinas LLC, No. DV-2016-0017, NCDEQ, Rockingham Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Recent California Supreme Court precedent shows that a federal judge erred in applying the sophisticated user doctrine, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel said in reinstating an asbestos case on Sept. 21 (Kimbra Gottschall, et al. v. General Dynamics Corp., et al., No. 14-15379, 14-15380, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 17248).
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on Sept. 22 overruled a railroad roundhouse operator's argument that the statute of limitations barred the government's cost recovery claim under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that the tolling period did not begin to run until the U.S. Army issued a record of decision (ROD) in September 2015 stating that removal actions at a portion of the Fort Devens Superfund site in Ayers, Mass., were complete (United States of America v. Boston and Maine Corporation v. Town of Ayer, Mass., No. 13-10087-IT, D. Mass.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129726).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 21 again denied a defendant's motion seeking stay remand of an asbestos case now set for trial later this year while it challenges the order returning the case to state court (Velma Searcy v. 3M Co. and Hexcel Corp., No. 16-56034, 9th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two federal legislators on Sept. 22 introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) aimed at improving drinking water standards, specifically with regard to the amount of lead in the water, by increasing compliance among local water utilities while fostering "greater community right to know about drinking water quality."
DETROIT - A group of Michigan residents on Sept. 22 filed an omnibus response in a lawsuit regarding the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., contending that although employees of the state have yet to be indicted for the lead water crisis in Flint, there are "more than enough questions of fact, internal contradictions, and criminal falsehoods" to warrant denial of their motion to dismiss (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The federal government's enforcement of War Production Board Limitation Order L-208(Rule L-208) during World War II at the Lava Cap Mine does not make it an operator under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a federal judge in California ruled Sept. 21 in granting the government's motion for summary judgment on a defendant's counterclaim for contribution (United States of America, et al. v. Sterling Centrecorp Inc., et al., No. 08-cv-02556, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128371).
PHILADELPHIA - Registering to do business in Pennsylvania provides consent to personal jurisdiction in the state even in light of recent Supreme Court precedent, a federal judge in Philadelphia held Sept. 20 in a case alleging ovarian cancer arising from exposure to talc (Nancy Bors v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 16-2866, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128259).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Environmental Working Group (EWG) on Sept. 20 released a report indicating that its analysis of federal data from drinking water tests shows that more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states are drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium - also known as chromium-6 - a known carcinogen.
BILLINGS, Mont. - ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. on Sept. 21 agreed to pay $12 million to the federal government and State of Montana to compensate for natural resources damages to the Yellowstone River that occurred following an oil spill in July 2011 (United States of America, et al. v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, No. 16-cv-143, D. Mont.).
PHOENIX - Saying Arizona does not recognize foreseeability in its duty analysis, a panel of the state's appellate court on Sept. 20 declined to impose a duty on a premise owner for a man's take-home asbestos exposures (Mary Quiroz, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., et al., No. 1 CA-CV 15-0083, Ariz. App., Div. 1; 2016 Ariz. App. LEXIS 218).
DETROIT - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Sept. 21 issued notice that another glyphosate injury case has been added to the list of cases in the Roundup Products Liability Litigation MDL (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Sept. 19 filed a brief in Ohio federal court seeking judgment as a matter of law or a new trial and remittitur on the cancer claims of David Freeman, who won a combined $5.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the company for cancer stemming from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
DETROIT - A group of residents on Sept. 19 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that they have properly pleaded their claims against employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Gov. Rick Snyder with regard to the lead contamination of the drinking water in Flint, Mich. (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Gov. Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).