TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Aug. 30 denied an Engle progeny plaintiff's petition to hear a case where a $5.8 million verdict awarded to a smoker's widow was vacated and a new trial was ordered by a lower appellate court (Kathleen Gafney, as Personal Representative of the estate of Frank Eugene Gafney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC16-693, Fla. Sup.; 2016 Fla. LEXIS 1943).
NEW ORLEANS - An asbestos case removed on other grounds may remain in federal court where dismissal leaves only parties with complete diversity, but on remand a federal court must determine if that situation applies to the case before it, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Aug. 25 (Joannie L. Jefferson, et al. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's London, No. 15-30211, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 15867).
JUNEAU, Alaska - The Alaska Supreme Court on Aug. 26 ruled that a refinery owner's claim for indemnification against the refinery's previous owner, which was related to a lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination brought by a local resident, was not barred by the statute of limitations (Flint Hills Resources Alaska LLC v. Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc., et al., No. S-15654, Alaska Sup.).
RENO, Nev. - A defendant company can pursue claims for cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against a plaintiff and third-party defendant, a federal judge in Nevada ruled Aug. 26, holding that the third-party defendant was an operator of the site at issue and that the costs it seeks to recover are different from those sought by the plaintiff company (Diamond X Ranch LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 13-cv-00570, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114799).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Aug. 24 remanded for review a case in which a veteran contends that he was exposed to Agent Orange while stationed at a military base in Arkansas, stating that it has not been determined whether the presumption of exposure has been established (Glenn R. Heffington v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-2603, U.S. App. Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1282).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Aug. 25 remanded a veteran's case seeking benefits for injuries he claims were caused by exposure to Agent Orange, determining that the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs failed to provide an adequate physical examination and opinion (Elliott J. Peterson v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-3243, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1299).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Aug. 26 ruled that a veteran who sought benefits for injuries stemming from exposure to Agent Orange failed to establish that he had come in contact with the chemical, and the judge affirmed a review board's decision to deny him benefits (Roger L. Hunter v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-3279, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1303).
DELAND, Fla. - A Florida jury on Aug. 25 found that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was not responsible for the heart disease, lung cancer and death of a deceased health department worker whose daughter filed suit against the tobacco company (Debra Coursey v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2013-30656 CICI, Fla. 7th Jud. Cir., Volusia Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Aug. 24 put on its docket a widow's appeal of an appellate court ruling that affirmed the dismissal of her wrongful death lawsuit against Shell Oil Co. for her husband's alleged exposure to gasoline containing benzene (Yolande Burst v. Shell Oil Company, et al., No. 16-241, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on Aug. 24 declined a motion seeking review of an appellate ruling holding that a grinding machine's inevitable use with third-party asbestos-containing automobile brakes creates potential liability under strict liability and negligence theories, according to its docket (Renee Rondon, et al. v. Hennessy Industries Inc., Nos. S234839, Calif. Sup.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Pennsylvania State Rep. Todd Stephens on Aug. 22 issued a press release calling on the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania to sue the U.S. Navy in an effort to force it to clean up water systems in Montgomery County, Pa., which the representative says are contaminated with perfluorinated chemicals (PFCs) from a Naval Air Station.
SAN FRANCISCO - An aircraft adhesives defendant lost its battle to stay an asbestos case and expedited hearing of its challenge to a remand order on Aug. 22, when the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals discharged its order to show cause, denied the defendant's motion and sent the case to the merits panel (Velma Searcy v. 3M Co. and Hexcel Corp., No. 16-56034, 9th Cir.).
DETROIT - Employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Aug. 22 moved to dismiss a lawsuit filed in Michigan federal court by a purported class of Flint, Mich., residents, contending that they are entitled to absolute immunity with regard to the plaintiffs' claims stemming from the lead water crisis in Flint, and there is "no constitutional right to drinking water" (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Gov. Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - A defendant has not adequately shown that it operates apart from a subsidiary and seeks a "level of testimonial precision" about exposure improper for asbestos cases, a New York justice held Aug. 17, denying a motion for summary judgment (Gaspar Hernandez-Vega v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., No. 190367/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
PHILADELPHIA - Two ship-owner defendants still litigating nearly 30-year-old asbestos cases waived personal jurisdiction defenses by at one point seeking trial in the court to which they now object, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Aug. 17 (Lionel C. Wilson, Joseph F. Braun, and Thomas Guiden v. Matson Navigation Co. Inc., American President Lines Ltd., Nos. 15-1387, 15-1388, 15-1389, 3rd Cir.).
NEW YORK - One of the defendants in a lawsuit brought by plaintiffs who allege they have been harmed as a result of exposure to wood treated with creosote on Aug. 15 filed a brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that despite a settlement between the parties and an injunction from the district court, the plaintiffs are "trying to take another bite," by asking a state court to revive certain toxic tort claims (Avoca Plaintiffs v. Kerr-McGee Corporation; In Re: Tronox Inc., No. 16-343, 2nd Cir.).
BALTIMORE - Military equipment manufactured and supplied in compliance with military specifications and under "intense supervision" meets the broad standard for federal officer removal, an asbestos defendant told the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 12 (Janya Sawyer, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 16-118, D. Md.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52750).
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 15 denied an en banc hearing to a class of plaintiffs who sought to certify state law questions related to their allegations that they suffered personal injuries from exposure to fugitive chemicals from Union Carbide Corp.'s (UCC) closed Bhopal, India, pesticide refinery during a leak of methyl isocyanate in 1984 (Jargarnath Sahu, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 14-3087, 2nd Cir.).
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Navajo Nation sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several mining companies Aug. 16 in New Mexico federal court, seeking to hold the EPA and companies liable for a massive release of contaminated mine water a year ago that polluted the San Juan River, one of the tribe's "most important sources of water for life and livelihood" (Navajo Nation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 1:16-cv-931, D. N.M.).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania federal judge on Aug. 12 dismissed a class claim for medical monitoring brought by airline workers stationed at the Philadelphia International Airport who allege that they were exposed to toxins, finding that the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act (PWCA) is the exclusive remedy available to the workers (David Smith, et al. v. American Airlines, Inc., et al., No. 16-156, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 107402).
MIAMI - A Florida jury on Aug. 15 awarded the estate of a man who died from lung cancer as a result of smoking cigarettes $5 million in compensatory damages after finding that the deceased was a member of the Engle class (Hazel Mathis v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007-CA-47118, Fla. Cir., 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - An aircraft adhesives defendant has little chance of prevailing on a nonappealable order finding its removal of an asbestos action untimely, especially in light of the court's questions regarding jurisdiction over the case, a woman argues in an Aug. 11 brief asking the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals not to stay a case (Velma Searcy v. 3M Co. and Hexcel Corp., No. 16-56034, 9th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - A man's failure to pursue litigation against a company and the existence of a clear statutory bar to recovery warrants a finding that the defendant was added in a bad faith attempt to defeat removal, a federal judge in Philadelphia held Aug. 11 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI); William Ney, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., et al., No. MDL 875, 16-2408, E.D. Pa.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A man's conflicting testimony and other evidence falls short of establishing sufficient evidence of regular exposure to asbestos from a brake manufacturer and air compressor manufacturer, a federal magistrate judge held in recommending the court grant summary judgment on Aug. 9 (Robert Lee Winhauer Jr., et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 15-177, D. Del.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104467).
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Aug. 9 denied an Engle progeny plaintiff's motion seeking to reinstate $20 million in punitive damages because the issue the plaintiff raised on appeal is better suited for the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to rule on (Judith Berger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157, M.D. Fla.).