HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on Sept. 17 granted Union Pacific Railroad Co.'s (UPRR) motion for partial summary judgment after finding that a plaintiff company was unable to show that it incurred response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to prevent or contain a release of hazardous substances on a 1.5 acre piece of land in Houston (Elite Operations Inc. v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., et al., No. H-13-3461, S.D. Texas; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123972).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A federal judge in Rhode Island on Sept. 17 concluded at the end of the first phase of a trifurcated trial that Emhart Industries Inc. is jointly and severally liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for contamination at the Centredale Manor Superfund site in North Providence, R.I., and that the company is liable as an operator for the purposes of the government's cost recovery claim under the statute, but deferred ruling on whether the plaintiff company failed to comply with a CERCLA cleanup order (Emhart Industries Inc. v. New England Container Corporation, et al., Nos. 06-218, 11-023, D. R.I.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125293).
PHILADELPHIA - Dole Food Co. Inc. on Sept. 15 filed a brief in the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that the petition for rehearing en banc filed by banana plantation workers who assert pesticide injury claims against Dole should be denied (Tobias Bermudez Chavez v. Dole Food Company Inc., No. 13-4144 [consolidated], 3rd Cir.).
MIAMI - A Florida appeals court should reinstate a $10.3 million asbestos verdict because evidence of significant quantities of asbestos installed on cruise ships a man spent years living aboard meets the "featherweight burden" in Jones Act cases, a widow argues in a Sept. 14 opening brief (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 3D 15-356, Fla. App., 3rd Dist.).
ST. LOUIS - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 15 reversed a federal judge in Missouri's ruling certifying a class for residents who live near the site of a pipeline that leaked in 1963 after finding that the plaintiffs' alleged fear of spreading contamination is not an injury that can support a common-law claim for nuisance (Bruce Smith, et al. v. ConocoPhillips Pipe Line Company, No. 14-2191, 8th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 16393).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A widow's evidence that her husband worked with radio and television heat shields during the time manufacturers used asbestos and that the work created dust overcomes summary judgment, a Kentucky appeals court panel held Sept. 11 (Thelma B. Anderson, as administratrix of the estate of Kenneth W. Anderson v. Motorola Solutions Inc. and Zenith Electronics LLC, No. 2013-CA-001350, Ky. App.; 2015 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 659).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., which is being sued by a group of Ohio residents who contend that the company is liable for personal injuries related to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Sept. 10 filed a brief in Ohio federal court supporting its contention that its medical expert should be permitted to testify at trial (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
GREENSBORO, N.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Duke Energy Corp. on Sept. 10 entered into a consent decree in North Carolina federal court in which the company agreed to pay a $975,000 civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) and agreed to spend $4.4 million on environmental mitigation projects to resolve a lawsuit claiming that it made illegal modifications to 13 coal-fired electricity-generating units at five power plants in the state (United States of America, et al. v. Duke Energy Corporation, No. 00CV1262, M.D. N.C.).
MADISON, Wis. - A defendant city that built and operated a wastewater treatment facility on a site that previously housed a lumber company is a "covered person" under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) that is liable for response costs incurred in cleaning up contamination, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Sept. 11, while finding that no costs should be allocated to the city based on the plaintiff company's settlement with other parties and the city's cooperation in cleanup efforts (Northern States Power Company v. City of Ashland, Wisconsin, et al., No. 12-cv-602, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121145).
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 11 awarded the family of a man who died of lung cancer $6 million in compensatory damages and a total of $6 million in punitive damages, finding that two tobacco companies were partially liable for the development of his disease (Martha Duignan v. Philip Morris USA, Inc., et al., No. 13-010978-CI, 6th Jud. Cir.).
MADISON, Wis. - A defendant attempts to reargue an issue a court previously found it waived by recasting its argument in different terms, a federal judge in Wisconsin held Sept. 9 (Gary Souja, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 99-475, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119698).
ATLANTA - Georgia's top court on Sept. 8 agreed to decide whether a jury properly heard an expert's testimony that "any exposure" to asbestos leads to disease before awarding $10.5 million (Scapa Dryer Fabrics Inc. v. Knight, et al., No. S15C1278, Ga. Sup.).
NEW ORLEANS - Even assuming three defendants' products were installed aboard the Navy ships in question, a plaintiff has not shown that his father suffered asbestos exposure from them, a federal judge held Sept. 9 (Scott Laurent v. City of New Orleans, et al., No. 14-2022, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22867).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Sept. 8 dismissed a lawsuit brought by an inmate against a prison warden, concluding that the inmate failed to show that the warden disregarded the substantial risk of arsenic in the prison's drinking water because the evidence showed that experts told the warden that the water was safe (Anthony Nguyen v M.D. Biter, No. 11-00809, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119406).
CAMDEN, N.J. - One of the plaintiffs in the consolidated lawsuit brought by residents who sued a group of railroad company defendants seeking damages related to a vinyl chloride spill caused by the derailment of a train crossing the bridge over Mantua Creek, on Sept. 9 reached a stipulated agreement of dismissal (Owen Haynes v. CSX Transportation Inc., et al., No. 13-410, D. N.J.).
PHILADELPHIA - A man's failure to disclose an asbestos tort claim in his bankruptcy more likely resulted from the fact that the court only recently reinstated the action, and the omission does not prohibit the action, a federal judge in Pennsylvania held Sept. 8 (Francis W. LaBrache Jr. v. A-C Product Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 09-30218, E.D. Pa.).
ALBANY, Ga. - A defendant company that agreed to store hazardous waste on its property is liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to the federal government for cleanup costs incurred in removing contamination, a federal judge in Georgia ruled Sept. 8 in granting the government's summary judgment motion (United States of America v. Richard Middleton, et al., No. 11-CV-127, M.D. Ga.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118902).
SEATTLE - A trial judge properly denied Caterpillar Inc.'s motion for summary judgment and new trial after a jury awarded $4.5 million in an asbestos case, a Washington appeals court held Sept. 8 (Betty Estenson, et al. v. Caterpillar Inc., et al., No. 71429-5-1, Wash. App., Div. 1).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - An oil and gas exploration company on Sept. 3 appealed an order issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) that found the company liable for contaminating groundwater as a result of its drilling operations. The company argues that the order is "arbitrary, capricious, unreasonable, not in accordance with law, and violates [the company's] constitutional rights" (Cabot Oil & Gas Corp. v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2015-131, Pa. EHB).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on Sept. 8 denied a motion by two oil companies that say a woman who claims THAT her husband's death was caused by exposure to benzene for which the companies are liable should post an appeal bond in the amount of $37,376.97 under Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure (FRAP) 7 as she appeals to the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Yolande Burst v. Shell Oil Company, et al., No. 14-109, E.D. La.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A water company that is one of several defendants sued for a spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into West Virginia's Elk River on Sept. 4 filed a brief in West Virginia federal court, arguing that the court should not remand the chemical spill lawsuit, which is also related to a bankruptcy lawsuit filed by one of the defendants (Desimone Hospitality Services LLC v. West Virginia-American Water Company, No.14-14845, S.D. W.Va.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California judge properly granted a defendant summary judgment because both the man and the manufacturer presented equally ambiguous evidence in a bystander exposure case, a state appeals court held Sept. 8 (James Shiffer, et al. v. CBS Corp., No. A139388, Calif. App., 1st Dist., Div. 1; 2015 Cal. App. LEXIS 788).
CHICAGO - Allegations of trademark infringement, unfair competition and state law deceptive trade practices in connection with the "Four Aces" trademark for tobacco products will proceed, an Illinois federal judge ruled Sept. 3 (Top Tobacco, et al. v. Fantasia Distribution Inc., No. 14-8981, N.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117533).
NEW YORK - The significance of a pending appellate case addressing appropriate damages in asbestos actions warrants staying the time to accept a reduction of a $190 million asbestos award, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Sept. 3 (Santo Assenzio v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Robert Brunck v A.O. Smith Water Products, Paul Levy v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Cesar Serna v A.O. Smith Water Products, Raymond Vincent v. A.O. Smith Water Products, Nos. 190008/12, 190026/12, 190200/12, 190183/12, 190184/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal judge in Ohio presiding over the perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) personal injury litigation brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. on Sept. 4 ruled that a plaintiff could introduce at trial evidence that the company worked with a consulting group on its defense of the claims, but he said that the jury could disregard that evidence (In Re: E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, relating to Bartlett v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., No. 13-0170, MDL 13-2433, S.D. Ohio; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 118575).