BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 22 denied an underlying plaintiff's motion for a temporary restraining order seeking to ban an insurer and its insured from reaching a settlement for an underlying judgment awarded for personal injuries in a lead paint exposure suit (CX Reinsurance Co. Ltd., v. Benjamin L. Kirson, et al., No. 15-3132, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 41230).
DES MOINES, Iowa - Iowa became the first state to legislatively bar asbestos claims arising from third-party parts on March 23 after its governor signed legislation codifying the bare-metal and component parts doctrine. The law also requires additional transparency in asbestos-related trust filings, imposes medical criteria from bringing asbestos- and silica-related claims, restricts trial consolidation and negates certain forms of successor liability.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A government watchdog group on March 21 filed a complaint in District of Columbia federal court against the Environmental Protection Agency, alleging that the agency violated the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), 5 U.S.C. 552, by not timely providing certain employees' communications that were sent using an encryption application (Cause of Action Institute v. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 1:17-cv-00509, D. D.C.).
NEW YORK - Rejecting both plaintiffs' larger proposed trial groups and concern of prejudice by defendants, a New York justice in an opinion posted March 21 found that 11 cases' similarities warranted four trial groups and two separate trials (Walter Cunningham, et al. v. Aerco Intl., et al., No. 190136/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
DETROIT - Some of the defendants sued by residents of Flint, Mich., in connection with the lead-contaminated drinking water in that city filed a brief in Michigan federal court on March 21, arguing that the lawsuit meets the local controversy exception to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) and, therefore, the court should deny a motion filed by another group of defendants asking it to alter its judgment with regard to exercising its jurisdiction over state law claims (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
NEW ORLEANS - BP Exploration and Production Inc. and BP America Production Co. (collectively, BP) were awarded summary judgment by a federal judge in Louisiana on March 20 after she found that a man was unable to produce evidence that his exposure to dispersants during cleanup activities following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico caused him to develop lung cancer (Pero Cibilic, et al. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 15-995, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40056).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana who is overseeing litigation stemming from damages caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 ruled March 17 that individuals whose claims arise from federal moratoria on drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico can opt out of the Deepwater Horizon Economic Loss and Property Damage Settlement Program if they are not resolved by March 25 (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, Case No. 12-970, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - An asbestos action filed outside Wisconsin's two-year window for suing Special Electric Co. Inc. after its dissolution is untimely, and an earlier motion to reopen and enforce its bankruptcy plan does not save the case, a New York justice held in an opinion posted March 21 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Thomas McGlynn v. Aerco International Inc., No. 190219/2016, 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 900, In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Bertle Stromholm, et al. v. Aerco International Inc., No. 190177/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SIOUX CITY, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on March 17 dismissed a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a local agency that supplies drinking water, concluding that its claims against local government agencies regarding liability for the costs of complying with clean water laws "have no merit" (Board of Water Works Trustees of the City of Des Moines, Iowa v. SAC County Board of Supervisors as Trustees of Drainage Districts 32, 42, 65, 79, 81, 83, 86, et al., 15-4020, N.D. Iowa; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 39025).
NEW YORK - A New York justice refused to impose a heeding presumption in an asbestos trial in an opinion posted March 20, saying that absent evidence that a cigarette user who ignored tobacco warnings would have acted differently in the asbestos context, she would not impose such a standard (Donna Castorina, et al. v. A.C.&S., et al., No. 123077/01, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced March 17 that it has awarded a $100 million grant to the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) to fund drinking water infrastructure upgrades in Flint, Mich.
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri woman on March 17 filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Co. in Missouri federal court, alleging that the company committed scientific fraud and is liable for her development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), which was the result of exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup (Linda Crane v. Monsanto Co., No. 17-982, E.D. Mo.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on March 16 found that an English insurer's removal of a former machinist's asbestos-related claims from a state court was appropriate, finding that the dispute could relate to an underlying arbitration agreement contained in an insurance policy (James Edward O'Connor v. Maritime Management Corp., et al., No. 16-16201, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37798).
FRESNO, Calif. - A judge properly admitted expert testimony that every identifiable exposure to asbestos contributes to mesothelioma, a California appeals court held March 17, while also rejecting challenges involving tobacco use and an award of punitive damages (Charity Faith Phillips, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. F070761, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on March 14 approved a consent decree that would require Pocahontas Land Corp. to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to resolve allegations brought by three environmental groups that the company was violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Ohio Valle Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Pocahontas Land Corporation, No. 15-cv-15515, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36145).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 10 granted motions for partial summary judgment filed by a number of insurers involved in an asbestos coverage dispute after determining that the insured's claims regarding the exhaustion of the insurers' policies were not timely filed (General Insurance Company of America v. The Walter E. Campbell Co. Inc., et al., No. 12-3307, D. Md.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34348).
LAFAYETTE, Ind. - An Indiana federal magistrate judge on March 10 granted a motion to strike a number of an insurer's affirmative defenses in an environmental liability coverage suit after determining that the insurer failed to provide any factual support for the defenses (Landis+Gyr, et al. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 16-82, N.D. Ind., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34269).
MIAMI - A retail grocery was not fraudulently joined in an asbestos case because allegations regarding what it should have known sufficiently support a negligence action, a federal judge in Florida held in remanding the case on March 10 (Andrienne Fransas v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., No. 17-80058, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35545).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on March 10 moved for a new trial in an Engle progeny suit that resulted in a $6 million verdict, saying that the plaintiff introduced surprising and previously undisclosed testimony that her deceased husband suffered a heart attack before Nov. 21, 1996, and that the jury form likely confused and misled the jury about the findings it was required to make regarding her husband's membership in the Engle class (Blanche Fox v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2008-CV-026348, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Multidistrict Litigation Panel of Texas on March 10 ruled that 10 separate lawsuits that allege drinking water contamination against a group of refining company defendants should be transferred to a single court for pretrial proceedings (In re: Corpus Christi Tap Water Litigation, MDL No. 17-69, Texas MDL Panel; 2017 Tex. LEXIS 291).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on March 9 vacated and remanded a case involving a veteran's claims for benefits due to exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam, concluding that the Board of Veterans Appeals erred when it failed to return a medical examination report that needed clarification (Freddie Bell Jr. v. David J. Shulkin, No. 15-3376, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 340).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on March 13 gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency three years to create rules governing emissions standards for 20 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) after the agency conceded that it violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by failing to undertake a nondiscretionary duty to establish the standards (California Communities Against Toxics, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 15-cv-512, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35268).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of engineering firms that were sued by residents who contended that they shared liability for the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on March 9 filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' decision that a plaintiff may obtain remand under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) without evidence of class members' citizenship "creates a circuit split and is wrong" (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A plaintiff in an Engle progeny suit on March 8 moved for an extension of time to file a motion for a rehearing, certification, or a written opinion following an order from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal that affirmed a defense verdict in a tobacco trial, according the online docket (Dorothy Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 4D15-1819, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on March 9 removed a suit in which it is accused of creating an overly broad list of e-cigarette and tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Act of Pennsylvania that are taxed to federal court in Pennsylvania because many of the claims are based in federal law (Kingdom Vapor, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 3:02-at-06000, Pa. M.D.).