DETROIT - A 2-1 panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 10 reinstated an enforcement action brought by the federal government against DTE Energy Co., finding that a federal judge in Michigan erred by failing to consider the panel's earlier ruling instructing it to consider whether the company submitted sufficient information to the agency before modifying a unit at its coal-fired power plant in Monroe, Mich. (United States of America v. DTE Energy Company, et al., Nos. 14-2274, 14-2275, 6th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 416).
PHILADELPHIA - Surviving beneficiaries of a Merchant Marine's Jones Act survival action originally filed in 1989 should not be penalized simply because the court lacked the resources to quickly resolve asbestos cases, a federal judge in Pennsylvania held Jan. 6 (Creighton E. Miller (administrator for estate of Joseph F. Braun v. Manville Corporation Asbestos Disease Compensation Fund, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-33896, E.D. Pa.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1975).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on Jan. 6 denied a motion for summary judgment in a cost recovery lawsuit for groundwater contamination allegedly caused by a landfill, ruling that the case was not barred by a statute of limitations (Charter Township of Lansing, et al. v. Lansing Board of Water and Light, No. 14-514, W.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2280).
NEW ORLEANS - A company that received $20,000 from a claimant that received money from the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement to repay a loan does not need to return the money to the settlement fund, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 6, holding that the company was not unjustly enriched (In re: Deepwater Horizon, Woodbridge Baric Pre-Settlement Funding LLC v. Louis J. Freeh, No. 15-30599, 5th Cir.).
BALTIMORE - "Formulaic" allegations of asbestos exposure failing to distinguish between defendants or time periods fall short of pleading standards, but the plaintiff may amend in an effort to cure the deficiencies, a federal judge in Maryland held Jan. 3 (Esther Rhodes, et al. v. MCIC Inc., et al., No. 16-2459, D. Md.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on Jan. 3 granted the federal government's motion in limine to preclude a defendant company from arguing that allocations for natural resource damages in consent decrees between the government and parties that contributed to contamination at the Lower Fox River Superfund site were too high, holding that the company was over-reading the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act's section on double recovery (United States of America v. NCR Corporation, et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 257).
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia did not err when finding that a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to a mining company did not shield it from liability for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 4 (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Fola Coal Company, LLC, No. 16-1024, 4th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 108).
NEW YORK - A New York appellate panel on Jan. 3 affirmed the constitutionality of a ban on e-cigarettes or vaping devices in schools, restaurants and outdoor public spaces in New York City because the "one-subject rule" in the state's constitution does not apply to local laws (NYC CLASH v. City of New York, No. 152723/142014, N.Y. Sup., App. Div.; 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 41).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Jan. 4 found that a trial court erred in not reducing the compensatory award by the comparative fault the jury found in an Engle progeny suit brought by a man whose wife died from lung cancer related to her smoking (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D13-3949, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 50).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Jan. 5 awarded a man $10.5 million in punitive damages plus attorney fees against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for cancer he said he had developed as a result of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A federal magistrate judge in Delaware recommended granting four motions for summary judgment, saying Dec. 30 the plaintiffs, who had not responded, failed to show that exposure to the products in question were a substantial factor in the man's mesothelioma (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180138).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Submarines under construction are not vessels under maritime law, a federal judge in Delaware held Dec. 30 in finding that Connecticut law applies to the asbestos case (Ralph Elliott Shaw and Joan Sanderson Shaw v. Andritz Inc., et al., No. 15-725, D. Del. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180137).
DENVER - A federal judge in Utah erred when awarding summary judgment against Asarco LLC on its claim for contribution under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against Noranda Mining Inc., a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 3, holding that the plaintiff company did not make misrepresentations to a bankruptcy court when a company representative stated that $7.4 million was a fair share of its cleanup costs at Richardson Flat Superfund site in Utah (Asarco LLC v. Noranda Mining Inc., No. 16-4045, 10th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11).
TAMPA, Fla. - Evidence that a company complied with the U.S. Navy's precise specifications for products it ordered from private contractors keeps an asbestos case in federal court, a federal judge in Florida held Dec. 27 (Marc Killam v. Air & Liquid Systems Inc., et al., No. 16-2915, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178637).
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appellate panel on Dec. 29 affirmed a chancery court judge's decision to dismiss a company's declaratory judgment suit against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), finding that the plaintiff company is required to comply with the requirements of the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) (Drytech Inc. v. State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection, No. A-5619-14T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2750).
RUTLAND, Vt. - A federal judge in Vermont on Dec. 28 denied a motion to dismiss a groundwater contamination lawsuit against a plastics manufacturer, ruling that a dispute over the state's groundwater contamination standards was not "essential" to the case (James D. Sullivan, et al. v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, No. 16-125, D. Vt.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180405).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Dec. 22 denied a couple's motion for sanctions against a company for allegedly making false statements and denying the existence of evidence as part of a groundwater contamination lawsuit, concluding that "the motion is not well-taken" (Amos Hostetler, et al. v. Johnson Controls Inc., No. 15-226, N.D. Ind.).
MADISON, Wis. - A judge erred both in rejecting a motion to amend or add findings to a ruling and in the original order granting judgment to an asbestos-insulation manufacturer after a bench trial, a woman claims in Dec. 19 filing with the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Gary Souja, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-4177, 7th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Chevron Corp., which is being sued by Nigerian residents who contend that they have been injured as a result of an oil rig explosion, on Dec. 20 filed a brief in California federal court, arguing that the plaintiffs' motion to add photographs into evidence and file them under seal should be denied because they have not shown good cause to supplement the record (Natto Iyela Gbarabe v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).
DETROIT - Michigan residents who have sued Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials for the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., filed a brief on Dec. 21, arguing that the former director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) "cannot seek refuge behind a shield of immunity" (Luke Waid, et al. v. Gov. Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A jury in Ohio on Dec. 21 awarded $2 million to a man who had sued E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. seeking damages for cancer he said he had developed as a result of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Dec. 21 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's lymphoma (NHL) (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
TRENTON, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on Dec. 20 refused to reconsider his previous ruling that dismissed the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) from a lawsuit brought by environmental groups who had contended that the authority and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) were liable for discharging chemicals into the groundwater (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Volkswagen AG on Dec. 20 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection agency and state of California in which it will pay $225 million on environmental projects designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and recall 83,000 3.0-liter diesel vehicles manufactured from 2009 through 2016 that were equipped with defeat devices to cheat emissions tests to resolve allegations in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and California state law, according to a consent decree filed in California federal court (In re: Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2672, Case No. 15-md-2672, N.D. Calif.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A group of oil refining and gasoline companies on Dec. 15 filed a joint brief in Rhode Island federal court contending that the state's lawsuit alleging that the companies are liable for contaminating the state's groundwater with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) should be dismissed because the state "insufficiently alleges" standing and "fails to allege the causation required" for its claims (State of Rhode Island v. Alon Refining Krotz Springs, No. 16-495, D. R.I.).