TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey federal judge on April 5 denied motions for reconsideration filed by two insurers and their insured after determining that the court did not commit a clear error of law in interpreting the applicability of the policies' per-occurrence limits and absolute pollution exclusion in an environmental contamination dispute (Castoro & Co. Inc. v. Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. Inc., et al., No. 14-1305, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52140).
MIAMI - A Florida jury on April 6 awarded the widow of a man who developed lung cancer and coronary artery disease (CAD) and died because of his addiction to cigarettes $1 million in compensatory damages (Steffany Sommers v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 13-2008-CA-001464-0000-01, Fla. 11th Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on April 6 affirmed trial court's judgment in favor of an Engle progeny plaintiff after answering a certified question from a lower appellate court finding that federal law does not preempt negligence and strict liability claims because those claims do not hinder the sale of cigarettes, but go after the tobacco companies for their conspiracy to hide the dangers of smoking from the public (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Phil J. Marotta, No. SC16-218, Fla. Super., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 744).
SEATTLE, Wash. - A turbine maker knew in the 1940s and 1950s that its products required asbestos-containing insulation, gaskets and packing and can be liable for those third-party parts, a Washington appeals court held April 3 (Yeanna Woo, et al. v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 74458-5-I, Wash. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Wash. App. LEXIS 784).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - Evidence of asbestos products' nearly universal use in submarines keeps two companies in the case, but lessor evidence against a third company fails, a federal judge in Connecticut held March 31 (Paul Paquin v. Crane Co., et al., No. 15-218, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48854).
LOS ANGELES - An asbestos plaintiff's disclaimer for any claims arising from conduct in a military or federal worksite precluded a boiler maker's removal of the case, but enough case law supports the move that sanctions are not warranted, a federal judge in California held March 31 (John Hukkanen, et al. v. Air and Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-2227, C.D. Calif.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal magistrate judge in California on April 3 ordered a property owner to withdraw a request to the California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) to have a former owner conduct additional site investigation for contamination, finding that the request violated the terms of a settlement agreement with the parties (Northern California River Watch v. Fluor Corporation, No. 10-cv-05105-WHO, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50763).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. - A federal magistrate judge in New York on March 31 denied portions of motions for summary judgment filed by General Electric Co. (GE) and the state of New York, finding that issues of material fact exist as to whether GE intended to dispose of polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB)-containing capacitors at a scrapyard to be considered an arranger of hazardous waste disposal under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (State of New York, et al. v. General Electric Company, No. 14-CV-747, N.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50026).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - While there is evidence that a man suffered from a lung ailment, that evidence does not support a conclusion that he suffered from asbestosis or that the ailment was occupationally related, the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals held March 30 (Elizabeth Foster, widow of Virgil L. Foster v. West Virginia Office of Insurance Commissioner and Glassware Acquisition Inc., No. 16-0416, W.Va. Sup. App., 2017 W. Va. LEXIS 187).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A naval engineer's general testimony about the types of ships and occupation in question are too speculative to create genuine issues of material fact regarding asbestos exposure, a federal judge in Delaware held March 30 in adopting a magistrate judge's recommendations (Marguerite MacQueen v. Warren Pumps LLC, et al., No. 13-831, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48476).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A former seaman's past asbestosis diagnosis, later rejected by other medical professionals, fails to support the conclusion that asbestos exposure in the U.S. Navy played a role in his death, a federal judge held March 30 (Mary Tomberlin v. David J. Shulkin, Secretary of Veterans Affairs, No. 15-2203, Vet. Clms., 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 481).
NEWARK, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on April 3 denied General Electric Co.'s (GE) motion to dismiss a lawsuit seeking cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for contamination at a site sold to a developer in 2015, ruling that discovery is needed to find the definition of "environmental response activities" in the indemnity and settlement agreement (ISA) (BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC v. General Electric Company, No. 16-6577, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 50265).
HAMMOND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on March 31 approved a proposed settlement between the federal government, Illinois, Michigan and Indiana and United States Steel Corp. over violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA), but acknowledged comments from objectors to the agreement who sought a harsher civil penalty or an agreement that the company take on more environmental projects (United States of America, et al. v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 12-CV-304-PPS-APR, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47607).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - After a Florida jury awarded the husband of a woman who died from lung cancer related to cigarette smoking $3 million in compensatory damages on March 28, the attorneys for the widow and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on April 3 came to a confidential settlement over punitive damages before the jury had a chance to deliberate (James Whitmire v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2015-CA-002337, Fla. 2nd Jud. Cir. Leon Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A federal magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on March 31 vacated a $4.24 million verdict handed down in favor of a group of residents against a hydraulic fracturing company they had accused of contaminating their groundwater. The judge ordered that a new trial be held if the parties are unable to reach a mutual settlement on the remaining claims in the lawsuit (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49075).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A federal magistrate judge recommended March 30 that a Delaware court ignore precedent rejecting the bare metal defense and grant judgment in favor of turbine and valve manufacturers (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Ellen Jeanene Palmer, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 14-1064, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47243).
SAN FRANCISCO - An expert's testimony that his experience with ships "like" those in question is insufficient to overcome a shipbuilder's motion for summary judgment in an asbestos case, a California appeals panel held March 30 (Richard Johnson, et al. v. Moore Dry Dock, No. A146775, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2308).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on March 31 remanded to state court a lawsuit brought against officials of the state of Michigan pertaining to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., ruling that the defendants failed to meet the requirements necessary to remove the matter to federal court (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 48768).
ROCK ISLAND, Ill. - A father and son who built a levee on their property to protect it from flooding were ordered by a federal judge in Illinois on March 28 to pay a $4,750 fine for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and ordered to obtain under a permit under Section 404 of the act for a portion of the levee (Quad Cities Waterkeeper Inc., et al. v. David G. Ballegeer, et al., No. 12-cv-4075-SLD-JEH, C.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45829).
SAN FRANCISCO - An insurer involved in an environmental contamination coverage dispute is entitled to reimbursement of the deductible it paid on behalf of its insured because the policy at issue specifically states that the deductible includes claim expenses such as defense costs, a California federal judge said March 29 in granting the insurer's motion for partial summary judgment (American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Co., et al. v. Technichem Inc., et al., No. 15-03611, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47103).
AUSTIN, Texas - At some point not declaring acceptance of a settlement crosses the line into unreasonable, and asbestos plaintiffs' eight- and nine-year delay constitutes a long trip past the line, Union Carbide Corp. told the Texas Supreme Court March 28 (Union Carbide Corp. v. Perry Jones, Rosemary Allegria, et al., No. 16-0648, Texas Sup.).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri appeals court affirmed a nearly $4 million asbestos verdict on March 28, tossing aside a wire company's challenges to the admission of lay witness testimony, sufficiency of causation evidence, application of a cap on wrongful death damages and assignment of rights to recovery from bankruptcy trusts under Wisconsin law (Jean Urbach, et al. v. The Okonite Co., No. ED104393, Mo. App., Eastern Dist., 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 207).
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on March 24 denied a dairy's motion for judgment on the pleadings after finding that a plaintiff corporation sufficiently alleged that the dairy discharged hazardous substances that are covered by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Citizens Development Corporation v. County of San Diego, et al., No. 12cv0334, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43785).
NEW ORLEANS - A panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on March 27 affirmed a lower court's dismissal of a chemical injury lawsuit against Iraq War contractors, concluding that the plaintiffs failed to present epidemiological evidence that meets the reliability threshold for evidence (Mark McManaway, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al. and Rocky Bixby, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al., No. 15-20641, 5th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 5341).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on March 28 issued an order approving a settlement between residents of the city of Flint, Mich., and the state of Michigan, its officials and the city of Flint that calls for - among other things - an allocation of $87 million to fund continued water service-line replacements to address the city's lead-contaminated water crisis (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).