NEW YORK - In a coverage dispute over asbestos litigation costs, the New York Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 ruled that one of its previous rulings did not establish a general rule that a reinsurance contract's total liability cap encompasses both indemnity and defense costs incurred by an insurer (Global Reinsurance Corporation of America v. Century Indemnity Co., No. CTQ-2016, 0005, N.Y. App., 2017 N.Y. LEXIS 3723).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Dec. 15 reversed and remanded a decision by the Board of Veterans Appeals that denied coverage to a veteran who alleged that he was exposed to the herbicide Agent Orange, concluding that the board erred in its treatment of the evidence (Mark Young v. David J. Shulkin, No. 16-2196, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1800).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Dec. 15 ruled that a solvent maker cannot pursue third-party claims for cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) against 58 companies that entered into a consent decree with the state of New York over contamination at a landfill, holding that the agreement bars the solvent maker's claims (State of New York, et al. v. Pride Solvents & Chemical Co., et al., No. 15-CV-6569, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206678).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Imposing liability for take-home asbestos exposures on manufacturers would make no sense given Delaware's precedent and would open those defendants up to a flood of potentially limitless liability and litigation, a group of amicus parties told the Delaware Supreme Court on Dec. 15 (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center, et al., No. 305, 2017, Del. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed a New Jersey federal judge's ruling in favor of an insurer in an environmental contamination dispute after determining that the insurer's failure to exclude coverage to certain parties involved in the contamination dispute clearly was a mistake or scrivener's error (Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. NL Environmental Management Services Inc., et al., Nos. 16-3262, 16-3293, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25277).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Environmental Protection Agency on Dec. 14 sent a letter to local and state officials seeking input as the agency looks to make revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)m which applies to all community public water systems.
CLEVELAND - A woman's testimony regarding her regular visits to a mechanic's garage to visit her fiance and the work she witnessed while there satisfies Ohio's standard of proof for asbestos cases, a federal judge held Dec. 13 (Julia C. Alexander, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 17-504, N.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 205053).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 14 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's decision to award a gasoline retailer $58.4 million under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, finding that the judge did not err when finding that the company was not excluded from the settlement agreement (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID 100211268, No. 16-31118, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A study published in the journal "Science Advances" on Dec. 13 concludes that there is evidence that there are negative effects of in utero exposure to hydraulic fracturing sites when they are located within 1.86 miles of a mother's residence based on the detection of nonmethane hydrocarbons, which cause personal injury - especially to fetuses.
MINNEAPOLIS - Asbestos plaintiffs appealing a summary judgment ruling must respond to defendants' claim that the time to appeal began with the original judgment, not an amended one, making the appeal four days too late, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 11 (Marlin P. Filipek, et al. v. The Boeing Co., et al., No. 17-3363, 8th Cir.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California jury on Dec. 11 added $4.6 million in punitive damages after finding two talc companies liable for $17.5 million in compensatory damages for a man's asbestos-related mesothelioma (Booker v. Vanderbilt Minerals, No. RG15796166, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
DALLAS - A judge stepped outside the bounds of a motion challenging jurisdiction and resolved merit questions, a woman told a Texas appeals court on Dec. 8 in asking it to reinstate her case seeking to obtain a copy of a deposition she claims will show an asbestos law firm coaching witnesses (Christine Cole Biederman v. Beverly Jean Brown, et al., No. 01-07-00263-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A man's testimony that he worked on his wife's new Ford Motor Co. Mustang is sufficient evidence on which to allege exposure to asbestos in originally installed parts, products the company had a duty to warn about, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware said Dec. 12 while granting judgment on other alleged exposures (Gerald L. Hickman v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 16-308, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203692).
DALLAS - A Texas appeals court on Dec. 12 declined to once again wade into a dispute over whether a company preserved the right to appeal a ruling on the role radiation may have played in a man's lung cancer and the resulting $18.6 million asbestos verdict (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 05-15-00001-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist.).
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on Dec. 8 refused to dismiss an environmental group's Clean Water Act lawsuit against the operator of a salvage yard, finding that the group's presuit notification was sufficient and that it adequately alleged that the defendant is failing to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for storm water discharges (Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation v. American Recycling International Inc., No. 17-cv-00425-BAS-JMA, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202649).
DETROIT - One of the defendants in the lawsuit brought by residents of Flint, Mich., alleging injuries from exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water on Dec. 8 filed a brief opposing the plaintiffs' amended complaint on grounds that there is no constitutional right to safe drinking water and she is entitled to immunity (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
DETROIT - Engineering consultants who have been named as defendants in the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Dec. 12 filed a brief in Michigan federal court, arguing that the plaintiffs' request for "preservation subpoenas" to preserve evidence should be denied (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A nonprofit group on Dec. 11 was given full access to four U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents and limited information in two agency documents regarding suspected polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) by a federal judge in the District of Columbia who found that the records did not contain information that was subject to the deliberative process privilege (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-2056, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203068).
RICHMOND, Va. - The Sierra Club and a Virginia power company filed competing briefs on Dec. 7 in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that a lower court erred in its ruling on the environmental group's groundwater contamination claim. The Sierra Club contends that the company should pay penalties and is liable for violations of federal law, while the company says it is not liable for any pollution (Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric & Power Company f/k/a Dominion Virginia Power, No. 17-1895, 4th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - The presence of a second defendant entitled to federal jurisdiction means that despite proper elimination of claims against a shipyard, an asbestos case will stay in federal court, a federal judge in Louisiana held Dec. 6 (Diane Pitre, et al. v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 17-7029, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200355).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 8 asked a man awarded $6 million for his mesothelioma to respond to a drywall materials company's petition asking the court to find jurisdiction lacking and vacate the verdict (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).
PENSACOLA, Fla. - A Florida jury on Dec. 7 awarded $225,000 in punitive damages to an Engle progeny plaintiff, bringing the total award to a widow whose husband died from coronary artery disease to $806,000 (Veda Bryant v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2015-CA-001691, Fla. Cir., 1st Jud., Escambia Co.).
BOSTON - Pharmacia Corp. could not have foreseen that an additive it manufactured containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) that was used in caulk would have posed a risk to human health at the time the product was used in a Massachusetts middle school in 1969, a First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 8 in affirming a federal judge's dismissal of a town's claims for breach of warranty and negligent marketing (Town of Westport, et al. v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 17-1461, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24827).
DURHAM, N.C. - Two co-workers' inability to recall how a man could have been exposed to a defendant's product is the extent of a man's asbestos case and falls short of the regular, frequent, proximate standard for causation, a federal judge in North Carolina said Dec. 7 (Jonathan A. Queen, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 16-330, M.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201299).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Residents who argue that Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) is liable for contaminating their drinking water supply with perchlorate on Dec. 6 filed a brief in an Oklahoma federal court contending that HESI should be compelled to produce documents and other information (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).