GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A Florida judge on June 15 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny suit after the jury deadlocked on compensatory damages and attorneys for Philip Morris USA Inc. argued that there cannot be a compromise verdict (Jo Freeman v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2015CA003930, Fla., 8th Jud. Cir., Alachua Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
HACKENSACK, N.J. - Property owners filed a complaint in the Bergen County Superior Court on June 12 contending that Verizon New Jersey Inc. is liable for $1,591,435 in damages because it failed to remediate contamination on property it leased from the plaintiffs in breach of its rental contract (Joan Rudnick, et al. v. Verizon New Jersey Inc., No. L-4023-17, N.J. Super., Bergen Co.).
PITTSBURGH - A mother who sued her daughter's elementary school contending that she was poisoned by lead and copper drinking water on June 14 voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit against the school district (Jennifer Tait, et al. v. Butler Area School District, et al., No. 17-182, W.D. Pa.).
CHICAGO - A trial judge erred in denying forum non conveniens transfer where the plaintiff was at best equivocal regarding his exposure in his chosen forum, an Illinois appeals court held June 13 (Irvin Rohl and Marlene Rohl v. Borg Warner Corp., et al., No. 2016 L 676, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1148).
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on June 14 charged Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Nick Lyon and four other state and local officials with involuntary manslaughter in connection with their failure to act in response to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., which resulted in an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease and lead contamination.
TAMPA, Fla. - The plaintiffs who brought a groundwater contamination lawsuit against a fertilizer manufacturer in Florida, contending that their private wells had been tainted, voluntarily dismissed the case June 12, with no explanation provided (Nicholas Bohn, et al. v. The Mosaic Company, et al., No. 16-02724, M.D. Fla.).
ROANOKE, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia on June 9 awarded partial summary judgment to a limestone seller after finding that it is not a corporate successor to a mining company under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Dixon Lumber Company v. Austinville Limestone Company, Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88642).
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 12 vacated and remanded a summary judgment ruling in a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a California water district against oil and gasoline companies on grounds that a district court's res judicata ruling was not appropriate because privity was not established (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation: Orange County Water District v. Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. n/ka TMR Company, No. 15-3934, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10412).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 12 declined to wade into a dispute over the proper causation standard in a Jones Act case involving allegations of asbestos exposure aboard a cruise line (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 16-1074, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on June 7 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss a couple's claims that the emissions from a neighbor's coal-fired boiler located on the Southern Ute Tribal Reservation violated the opacity standards of the Clean Air Act (CAA) after overruling the plaintiffs' argument that the statute sets those standards (Karen Nakayama, et al. v. Jennifer L. Sanders, et al., No. 17-cv-0285-WJM-NYW, D. Colo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87031).
LOS ANGELES - A company's failure to try to contain a memo containing confidential attorney-client advice for more than three years, even as it went "viral" in asbestos litigation, warrants denying a motion to seal, a California appeals court held June 8 (Elaine Margie Paulus, et al. v. J-M Manufacturing Company Inc., No. B269904, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Liability is a nebulous term, and absent an actual document demonstrating that a ship owner transferred all liabilities to a subsidiary, genuine issues exist about who is responsible for a man's exposure to asbestos, an Oregon court held June 8 (Clifton J. Williams Sr., et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. A158077, Ore. App., 2017 Ore. App. LEXIS 741).
SEATTLE - A broker's sales of asbestos to a California company selling pipe in Washington state do not create specific jurisdiction, but on remand the trial court should consider recently revealed evidence and precedent in deciding that the state had jurisdiction, a majority of the Washington State Supreme Court held June 8 (Candance Noll, et al. v. American Biltrite Inc., et al., No. 91998-4, Wash. Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A man on June 6 filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Thomas Price, the secretary of HHS, in Florida federal court, saying the defendants violated federal law by allowing a tobacco company to use the word "natural" in the brand name and trademarks (Justin Sproule v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 9:17-cv-80709, S.D. Fla.).
TACOMA, Wash. - Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) can file a third-party complaint against the estate of a man who formerly owned the site of a gas station he and his wife leased to the company so it can seek a claim for contribution under the Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) because it does not need to incur costs for remedial actions before filing suit, a federal judge in Washington ruled June 7 (Wakefield Family, LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. C17-5114-RBL, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87520).
SAN FRANCISCO - The government contractor defense applies to commercial products, a California appeals court panel affirmed June 6 in refusing to revisit a previous finding in an asbestos case (Jay Wanlass v. Metalclad Insulation Corp., No. A143616, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
LOS ANGELES - Employers and premises owners are liable for foreseeable take-home asbestos exposures under recent California Supreme Court precedent, a state appeals court held June 5 in reversing its previous ruling (Wanda L. Beckering v. Shell Oil Co., No. B256407, Calif. App., 2nd Dist., Div. 3).
MADISON, Wis. - Environmental asbestos exposure claims appear to simply be an attempt at avoiding the exclusivity provision of the state's workers' compensation law, while claims involving the licensing of a patent appear entirely frivolous and must be explained, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal held June 6 while affirming judgment for the two companies at the heart of the appeal (Janet Pecher, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-1799, Dianne Jacobs, et al. v. Rapid American and Weyerhaeuser Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2376, Katrina Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-2377, Robert Sydow, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2378, Kathy Boyer v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2379, Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-2380., 7th Cir.).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on June 5 ruled that a group of Flint, Mich., residents who sued the city of Flint and the State of Michigan for damages related to the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city could proceed with their claims for violation of bodily integrity against the city, its workers and employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The judge also said the plaintiffs' negligence claims were viable against two firms that were consultants on the decision to use the Flint River as a source of drinking water (Shari Guertin, et al. v. State of Michigan, et al., No. 16-12412, E.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85544).
BALTIMORE - Asbestos plaintiffs were on notice that a settling defendant could have more access to insurance coverage than previously disclosed after Porter Hayden, in which a court concluded that the aggregate limits in product liability policies did not apply to installation or operation claims, a Maryland appeals court held June 1 (Estate of Harold L. Adams, et al. v. Continental Insurance Co. No. 1065 September Term 2014, Md. Sp. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 567).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on June 2 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and Philip Morris USA Inc. in a suit where a man and his wife claimed that the man developed bladder cancer because of his addiction to cigarettes made by the two tobacco companies (Steven Kogan, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 2007CA023657, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir. Palm Beach Co.).
SAN DIEGO - A California appeals panel on June 1 reversed a ruling on groundwater contamination liability and concluded that it was "undisputed" that manufacturing sites operated by Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. contributed to groundwater contamination in a lawsuit brought against multiple defendants by a California municipal water authority (Orange County Water District v. Alcoa Global Fasteners Inc., et al., No. D070771, Calif. App, 4th Dist., Div. 1; 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 503).
PITTSBURGH - Two Pennsylvania school district officials on June 1 filed a brief in federal court arguing that a lawsuit filed against them and the school district by a mother who alleges that her daughter was poisoned by lead and copper drinking water at the child's elementary school should be dismissed (Jennifer Tait, et al. v. Butler Area School District, et al., No. 17-182, W.D. Pa.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - A federal judge in Louisiana on May 31 partially granted and partially deferred pretrial evidence motions in a lawsuit brought by homeowners against a developer that they allege is responsible for contaminating their properties with raw sewage, finding that there was no basis to exclude from evidence certain medical documents related to the alleged pollution (Cedar Lodge Plantation LLC, et al. v. CSHV Fairway View I LLC, et al., No. 13-129, M.D. La.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83690).
FRANKFORT, Ky. - Expert testimony that no safe level of exposure to asbestos exists does not overcome summary judgment where it is equally possible that a man's mesothelioma arose from other exposures, a divided Kentucky appeals court held June 2 (Tiffany Landreth, et al. v. Brake Supply Co. Inc., et al., No. 2015-CA-000006-MR, Pneumo Abex LLC v. Genuine Parts Co., et al., No. 2015-CA-000140-MR, Brake Supply Co. Inc. and Pneumo Abex v. Fortner L.P. Gas Co. Inc., et al., No. 2015-CA-000141-MR, Ky. App., 2017 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 399).