EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. - A shop teacher was not negligently exposed to asbestos when he ground asbestos-containing brakes on Hennessy Industries Inc. grinding machines, a Madison County, Ill., jury decided Feb. 28 (Urban v. Borg-Warner Morse TEC Inc., No. 13-L-437, Ill. Cir., Madison Co.).
SPOKANE, Wash. - A federal judge in Washington on Feb. 27 issued an order approving a settlement in a lawsuit brought by an environmental group that sought declaratory relief for alleged violations of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) in relation to documents pertaining to an investigation of groundwater contamination on Native American lands (Friends of Toppenish Creek v. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, et al., No. 16-3013, E.D. Wash.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Feb. 27 reversed and remanded a ruling by the Board of Veterans Appeals that denied a veteran's claim for benefits from exposure to Agent Orange in Vietnam, concluding that the board failed to provide an adequate statement of its reasons for relying on the opinion of the medical examiner in the case (Joyce M. Carter v. David J. Shulkin, No. 16-1192, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 250).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Feb. 27 dismissed an alleged insured's breach of the covenant of good faith claim because it is redundant to a breach of contract claim (JD2 Environmental, Inc. v. Endurance American Insurance Company, No. 14-cv-8888, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26977).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania General Assembly on Feb. 28 referred to committee a bill that would give power to the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to appropriate money to provide safe drinking water by testing public water systems for lead.
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - On Feb. 24, 3M Co. filed its answer to a lawsuit brought against it for groundwater contamination, in which it denies any liability and argues that the claim fails because the company has "not caused or contributed to an imminent and substantial endangerment to health or the environment" (Tennessee Riverkeeper Inc. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-1029, N.D. Ala.).
NEW YORK - Causation requires more than evidence of a mechanic's exposure to dust from asbestos-containing brakes, the majority of a New York appeals court held Feb. 28 (In re New York City Asbestos Litigation, Mary Juni, etc. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190315/12, 2457-2458, N.Y. Sup. App., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1505).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb.28 found that it does not have jurisdiction over a group's challenge to a statement from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that it would not acquiesce to an Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling on policies the agency implemented on the discharge of water from publicly owned water treatment facilities outside the circuit, holding that the statement was not a rule that could be challenged in the appeals court (Center for Regulatory Reasonableness v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-1150, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3576).
SAN FRANCISCO - Plaintiffs' premises liability allegations in an action against aircraft company are sufficiently detailed to permit the claims to go forward, but strict liability and negligence claims lack supporting evidence regarding the products in question or are barred by law, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Feb. 23 in partially reversing dismissal of a case (Titus May, et al. v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., et al., No. 15-56219, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 3314).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Feb. 24 found that the attorneys for a woman who sued a tobacco company for the death of her husband made improper comments during closing arguments that violated a judge's order and ordered a new trial (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Cynthia Robinson, No. 1D15-0989, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 2535).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court held Feb. 24 that a lower court judge should determine if a landowner can seek an order requiring ExxonMobil Corp. to remediate two sites where it conducted oil drilling and production operations, finding that the issue was not properly raised on appeal (ExxonMobil Corporation v. Lazy R. Ranch, LP, et al., No. 15-0270, Texas Sup., 2017 Tex. LEXIS 210).
BALTIMORE - While Ford Motor Co. must respond to discovery requests in an asbestos action, the plaintiffs' requests are overly broad and the company's responses can be limited to the vehicles and times in question, a federal magistrate judge in Maryland said Feb. 21 (Helen Thomas Fish, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 16-496, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24188).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Veterans Appeals on Feb. 22 set aside a ruling by the Board of Veterans Appeals that denied benefits to the widow of a soldier who had been exposed to Agent Orange, concluding that the medical opinion on which the denial of benefits was based relied on the opinion of an independent medical examiner who did not adequately explain her conclusion (Atta L. Corbiser v. David J. Shulkin, No. 15-2505, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 214).
SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on Feb. 22 dismissed one cause of action but ruled that the majority of claims brought by the city of Seattle against Monsanto Co. for allegedly contaminating its groundwater with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were valid (City of Seattle v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 16-cv-00107, W.D. Wash.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The state's Wrongful Death Act does not permit a widow's wrongful death loss of consortium claim arising from asbestos exposure occurring before the couple's marriage, a divided Florida court held Feb. 22 (Janis Kelly, et al. v. Georgia-Pacific LLC, et al., No. 4D15-4666, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 2413).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal government's previous settlements with the former owner of a now-defunct oil refinery site that contributed to contamination of the Skull Creek in Cushing, Okla., does not bar it from pursuing a cost recovery claim under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act against another former owner, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Feb. 22 in granting the government's motion to strike counterclaims asserted by the defendant companies (United States of America v. Land O'Lakes, Inc., et al., No. CIV-16-170-R, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24305).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on Feb. 21 partially granted and partially denied motions to dismiss claims brought by a class of residents who contend that Chevron USA Inc. and related companies are liable for contaminating their groundwater with naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), ruling that the plaintiffs have a valid strict liability claim but do not have a claim for punitive damages against all defendants (Joseph Robertson, et al. v. Chevron USA Inc., et al., No. 15-00874, E.D. La.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Testimony that a man worked with gaskets during an engine overhaul lacks any reference to who manufactured the gaskets or whether they contained asbestos, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held Feb. 16 in recommending summary judgment based on the lack of triable issues (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22590).
NEW ORLEANS - Plaintiffs in an asbestos exposure case are entitled to further discovery in an attempt to muster the difficult support they need to overcome jurisdictional issues against one defendant and must amend their complaint to allege more specifics against a second company, a federal judge in Louisiana held Feb. 16 (Robin Murphy, et al. v. Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc., et al., No. 15-5566, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21979).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on Feb. 21 filed an answer in California federal court, arguing that the personal injury case brought against it related to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, contending that the allegations against the company are "vague and conclusory and comprise attorney characterizations" about a product that "repeatedly has been found to be safe to humans and the environment by regulators in the United States and around the world" (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, N.D. Calif.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 17 issued an order canceling oral arguments in a case brought by residents of the city of Flint, Mich., who seek damages for injuries from exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water, ruling that the court is "obligated to examine" the subject matter jurisdiction of the case (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 17 found that a federal judge in Louisiana did not abuse his discretion when refusing to review a business's appeal of the Court Supervised Settlement Program's (CSSP) decision that it should receive $29,567.81 as part of the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement (E&P Settlement), holding that the plaintiff company was a startup business under the terms of the settlement agreement (Claimant ID 100009540 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 15-30964, 5th Cir.).
DETROIT - The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) on Feb. 17 issued a report in which it said the "disparate response" to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., was the result of "systemic racism that was built into the foundation and growth of Flint, its industry and the suburban area surrounding it" and said the state should establish a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" to deal with racial discrimination.
MINNEAPOLIS - A federal judge in Minnesota on Feb. 15 dismissed one cause of action but sustained the majority of a city's groundwater contamination lawsuit against 3M Co., finding that the company's argument that the city has not been deprived of its ability to use the groundwater is "unavailing" (City of Lake Elmo v. 3M Company, No. 16-2557, D. Minn.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22202).
NEW YORK - Despite the potential unfairness given the facts of a case, asbestos plaintiffs must demonstrate a continuity of ownership to show that an asset purchase constituted a de facto merger until a New York appellate court changes the standard, a New York justice held Feb. 15 in granting summary judgment (Ivette Montanez and Peter Montanez v. American Honda Motors Co. Inc., et al., No. 190409/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 493).