DETROIT - A group of Flint, Mich., residents on Jan. 30 filed a lawsuit against the U.S. government, seeking $722.4 million for the Environmental Protection Agency's alleged mishandling of the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint (Jan Burgess, et al. v. United States of America, No. 17-10291, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 27 affirmed that two insurers in an environmental contamination coverage dispute did not waive their right to assert a late-notice defense because the insured's notice of the underlying environmental claims was not timely (Travelers Indemnity Co., et al. v. Northrop Grumman Corp., et al., No. 15-3117, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1471).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Monsanto Co. and two of its affiliates on Jan. 27 filed a brief in Oregon federal court contending that a district court should dismiss the Port of Portland's lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination from polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) on grounds that the allegations are barred by the state's product liability statute and there are "insufficient facts alleged to sustain a cognizable legal theory" (Port of Portland v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 17-15, D. Ore.).
PHILADELPHIA - A "free and clear" sale of assets in a bankruptcy court auction precludes holding the purchaser liable for pre-purchase take-home asbestos exposures, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 26 (Jacqueline S. Wagner and Thomas H. Wagner v. Standard Steel LLC, et al., No. 850 EDA 2016, Pa. Super.).
DETROIT - Plaintiffs who sued Michigan state officials in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on Jan. 26 filed a brief arguing that the state defendants' submissions of supplemental evidence does not support their claim that the Flint, Mich., Water System is complying with monitoring and corrosion control requirements that are part of federal regulations (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - A man's failure to identify a defendant's product is not fatal to his asbestos case, especially in light of evidence placing the company's pumps aboard the ship on which the man served, a New York appeals court held Jan. 26 (In re New City Asbestos Litigation, Susan Krok as Adminstratrix for the estate of Raymond J. Krok Sr., etc. v. Aercto International Inc., et al., Nash Engineering Co., No. 190272/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Jan. 26 ruled that a veteran's widow failed to show that the Board of Veterans Appeals (the Board) erred when it denied her claim for benefits related to her late husband's death from cancer, which she claimed was connected to his exposure to Agent Orange (Diana L. Moczynski v. Robert D. Snyder, No. 15-3737, Vet. Clms., 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 59).
SALT LAKE CITY - Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) cannot attempt to recover a portion of a $3 million civil penalty it paid to the Utah Water Quality Board (UWQB) and Salt Lake City to resolve violations of the Utah Water Quality Act (UWQA) and Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) that stemmed from two pipeline leaks in 2010, a federal judge in Utah ruled Jan. 27, holding that the money cannot be recovered from third parties under either act (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, d/b/a Rocky Mountain Power, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11778).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 25 denied a company's motion seeking a case management order referred to as a Lone Pine order in a trichloroethylene (TCE) groundwater contamination case, concluding that such an order should be used only in "exceptional cases" (Amos Hostetler, et al. v. Johnson Controls Inc., No. 15-226, N.D. Ind.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10006).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Jan. 25 ruled that an expert opinion provided by a village that sued two companies alleging groundwater contamination from vinyl chloride that leaked into the water system was "sufficiently reliable," and he refused to exclude it from evidence (Village of Sauk Village v. Roadway Express Inc., et al., No. 15-9183, N.D. Ill.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10478).
NEW ORLEANS - The failure to adequately support a fraud claim for the second time warrants dismissal of the claim with prejudice, a federal judge in Louisiana said Jan. 24 (Jesse Frank Sheppard v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-2401, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159338; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9527).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Jan. 23 granted summary judgment to a group of government officials and dismissed the complaints brought by two Native American nations with prejudice after finding that an amendment to a tax on Native American-made cigarettes does not violate the tribes' right to tribal sovereignty (Seneca Nation of Indians, et al. v. David Patterson, et al., No. 1:10-cv-00687, W.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9060).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A school board had a common-law duty to provide a teacher with a safe work space free from asbestos, and local agencies can be held liable for such exposure where it falls within an exception to the general government immunity, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 25 (John F. Geier, executor of the estate of Marianne M. Geier and John F. Geier v. Board of Public Education of the School District of Pittsburgh v. American Art Clay Company Inc., et al., No. 625 C.D. 2016, Pa. Cmwlth.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 25 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's decision denying a radiology firm's appeal of the denial of its claim for benefits under the Business and Economic Loss framework (BEL) of the Deepwater Horizon Economic Loss and Property Damage Settlement Agreement, finding that the firm does not own a facility under the settlement agreement (Claimant ID 100250022 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 16-30258, 5th Cir.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A California water district filed a brief in California federal court on Jan. 25 defending the qualifications of one of its experts to testify in a groundwater contamination case involving methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE). The water district also contends in a separate brief that its claim for $34 million in damages "will be amply supported" by the testimony provided (Orange County Water District v. Unocal Corporation, et al., No. 03-1742, C.D. Calif.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who sued E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Jan. 24 filed a brief in Ohio federal court arguing that every argument asserted by the company for bifurcating the compensatory and punitive damages phases of trial has previously been rejected by the court (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
SEATTLE - An asbestos-insulation installer's conduct and knowledge supports imposing a duty on it for take-home exposure of a woman who died on the eve of trial and a resulting $3.6 million verdict, a Washington appeals court on Jan. 23 (Estate of Barbara Brandes v. Brand Insulation Inc., No. 73748-1-I, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2017 Wash. App. LEXIS 111).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A federal judge in New Mexico on Jan. 23 denied a motion for expedited dismissal of a lawsuit brought by the state of New Mexico over the Gold King mine spill that resulted in the discharge of more than 3 million gallons of acid mine drainage and 880,000 pounds of heavy metals into the Animas River watershed, ruling that briefing should first be completed as to the state's motion to file an amended complaint (State of New Mexico v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-CV-465, consolidated with No. 16-CV-931, D. N.M.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8943).
ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 23 ruled that Ameren Missouri violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when making major modifications to two coal-fired burners at its Rush Island facility in Festus, Mo., without first obtaining a prevention of significant deterioration (PSD) permit, ruling that the repairs were not routine maintenance and increased emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2) (United States of America v. Ameren Missouri, No. 11 CV 77 RWS, E.D. Mo.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8997).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Jan. 23 transferred another glyphosate injury lawsuit to the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, adding another case in which the plaintiff alleges that his exposure to the Roundup herbicide caused him to develop non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 23 denied a motion by a third-party defendant seeking to try third-party claims separately in a case where two environmental advocacy groups sued a glass manufacturer for groundwater contamination, finding that the third-party defendant did not show that separate trials were necessary (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8683).
PHILADELPHIA - Testimony establishing exposure to dust in dryer felts falls short of linking that exposure to asbestos or the manufacturer in question, a Pennsylvania appeals court held Jan. 19 (James Floyd Jr., executor of the estate of James C. Floyd Sr., deceased v. AstenJohnson Inc., No. 3663 EDA 2015, Pa. Super.).
NEW ORLEANS - Requiring production of contracts and other evidence of precise government oversight into the use of asbestos in the military oversteps the boundaries of federal officer removal, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Jan. 20 (Howard Zeringue v. Allis-Chalmers Corp., et al., No. 16-30058, 5th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 1077).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - An Arkansas appeals panel on Jan. 18 reversed a trial court judge's ruling ordering a defendant to pay $28,200 to remediate an oil spill on farmland he leased from his stepfather, finding that the repair estimate relied on by the plaintiff was inadmissible hearsay (Barry Jones, d/b/a Borderline Farms v. John B. Dozier Land Trust, et al., No. CV-16-378, Ark. App., Div. 4; 2017 Ark. App. LEXIS 23).
NEW YORK - A New York justice did not err when denying a home-heating-oil company's motion for summary judgment on liability because the company was required to demonstrate that a spill that occurred after an employee overfilled a woman's in-home, above-ground tanks did not actually reach the surface or groundwater, a state appellate panel ruled Jan. 18. (Mary Ellen Zincke v. Pacific Energy Corp., No. 2015-00108, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 338).