CINCINNATI - A group of Flint, Mich., residents who had their lawsuit related to the city's lead-contaminated drinking water dismissed filed notice of an appeal in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 16 (Beatrice Boler, et al. v. Darnell Earley, et al., No. N/A, 6th Cir.).
NEW YORK - A group of plaintiffs who allege that they have been harmed as a result of exposure to wood treated with creosote from a chemical company's operation in Pennsylvania on May 18 filed a brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, contending that a district court erred when it ordered them to dismiss their claims against the company that treated the wood with chemicals (Tronox Incorporated v. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, No. 14-5495, 2nd Cir.).
SEATTLE - Evidence that asbestos fibers used in one area could travel throughout a shipyard combined with evidence of a delivery man's frequent visits sufficiently establish exposure, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held May 16 (Roger Botts and Carol Botts v. United States of America, No. 14-35007, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8940).
TOPEKA, Kan. - A Kansas appellate panel on May 13 found that a trial judge did not commit reversible error in giving the jury mitigation of damages instructions in a medical malpractice case, affirming the verdict in favor of a surgeon (Dennis Lessard v. William O. Reed, Jr., M.D., No. 113,073, Kan. App.; 2016 Kan. App. Unpub. LEXIS 376).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on May 16 ruled that an expert for Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) is permitted to testify at a trial for personal injuries claimed by residents who are suing HESI for releasing radioactive materials and perchlorate into the environment (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co., which was sued by residents who claim that they have suffered injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), on May 16 filed a brief in Ohio federal court objecting to the court's trial selection procedures on grounds that they are "inherently unfair" (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
SAN FRANCISCO - Because there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether an insurer has a duty to defend its insureds against underlying environmental contamination claims arising out of their operation of a dry cleaning business, an insurer was not entitled to summary judgment in its favor, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 17 (Hollyway Cleaners & Laundry Co., et al. v. Central National Insurance Company of Omaha Inc., No. 15-55973, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9022).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal magistrate judge on May 16 denied a motion for protective order filed by insurers in an environmental liabilities coverage suit after determining that the insurers are required to produce reinsurance agreements that relate to policies for which the insured is seeking monetary damages (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, et al. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., et al., No. 14-04717, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64088).
THE HAGUE, Netherlands - The Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) on May 16 publicly released an award on jurisdiction and liability that was issued in an arbitration brought by Philip Morris Asia Limited (Hong Kong) against the Commonwealth of Australia in relation to its tobacco packaging laws in which it found that the claimant's initiation of arbitration was an abuse of rights (Philip Morris Asia Limited [Hong Kong] v. The Commonwealth of Australia, No. 2012-12, PCA).
BARTOW, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 16 awarded the widow of a smoker $6 million after finding that he relied on statements made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. about the harmfulness of smoking the cigarettes it manufactured (Marlene Nally v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007CA-007627, Fla. Cir., 10th Jud. Cir., Polk Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 16 denied Philip Morris USA Inc.'s petition for certiorari to determine whether due process is violated when a jury is told about punitive damages that were previously vacated (Philip Morris USA Inc. v. Paul Scott Schwarz, Personal Representative of the estate of Michelle Schwarz, No. 15-1013, U.S. Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - An Oregon jury on May 12 awarded a man and his wife $5 million arising from his exposure to asbestos and resulting mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications (Charles Eastridge, et al. v. Cleaver-Brooks, Inc., et al., No. 15CV18697, Ore. Cir., Multnomah Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 11 ruled that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear a case alleging that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency failed to properly investigate methyl bromide exposure before reaching a settlement with a California state agency that had authorized the use of the pesticide in a residential area (Maria Garcia v. Gina McCarthy, No. 14-15494, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8668).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 13 affirmed that an umbrella insurer must reimburse two other insurers for an insured's defense costs of approximately $2.1 million in addition to paying prejudgment interest on the defense costs incurred by the insured as a result of environmental contamination claims filed against the insured (Northwest Pipe Co. f/k/a Northwest Pipe and Casing Co. v. RLI Insurance Company of Wausau, No. 14-35542, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 8837).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge applied the wrong standard and relied on evidence outside the record in concluding that asbestos-insulated train pipes constituted a complete system "integral" to a locomotives operation, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 16 (Peggy R. Hassell, et al. v. Resco Holdings LLC; and ACF Industries LLC, and Thyssenkrupp Budd Co., No. 14-1715, 14-1804, 3rd Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 16 denied certiorari to Exxon Mobil Corp. (EMC) in its dispute with the State of New Hampshire regarding cleanup costs for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), refusing to hear the company's argument that it had been deprived of due process (Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. v. State of New Hampshire, No. 15-933, U.S. Sup.).
MILWAUKEE - A group of plaintiffs who sued paint companies they allege are responsible for poisoning injuries from lead-based paint on May 9 moved in Wisconsin federal court to partially consolidate their cases pursuant to a federal procedural rule that allows for such a move in cases involving a common question of law or fact (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.).
SARASOTA, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 12 awarded a widower $30,000 in punitive damages a day after finding that the deceased relied to her detriment on statements made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. which ultimately led to her death, bringing the total award to $12,030,000 (George Dion v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 13CA5673, Fla. Cir., 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.).
LOS ANGELES - Under California law, the sophisticated user doctrine focuses on the end user's knowledge of a danger, not an intermediary's knowledge, a federal judge said May 10 while also rejecting defendants' government contractor defense (Victoria Lund, et al. v. Crane Co., et al., No. 13-2776, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61847).
LOS ANGELES - A federal magistrate judge in California on May 10 dismissed a lawsuit brought by a resident who contended that the local electric company was liable for poisoning the drinking water, ruling that the complaint "cannot possibly win relief" (Shah Bains v. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, No. 16-823, C.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61890).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The hydraulic fracturing company and its affiliates being sued by residents who allege that the companies contaminated the groundwater in their Pennsylvania town on May 10 filed a brief arguing that a settlement between the parties should be enforced (Tammy Manning, et al. v. WPX Energy Appalachia LLC, No. 12-0646, M.D. Pa.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The California Supreme Court on May 11 declined to publish a lower court opinion crediting an expert's opinion as the basis for reversing summary judgment, according to the docket (Betty O'Leary v. Dillingham Construction N.A. Inc., No. S232878, Calif. Sup.).
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on May 10 denied a motion for discovery filed by four environmental groups seeking depositions of West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) personnel, finding that the plaintiffs did not bear their burden of showing that the depositions were necessary (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Gina McCarthy, et al., No. 15-0271, S.D. W.Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61600).
SARASOTA, Fla. - A Florida jury on May 11 found that a woman relied to her detriment on statements made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. about the healthfulness of cigarettes, which ultimately caused her death, and awarded her husband $12 million in compensatory damages (George Dion v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 13CA5673, Fla. Cir., 12th Jud. Cir., Sarasota Co.).