BOSTON - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on June 6 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in a declaratory judgment action, after finding that the agency did not err in finding that leaded gasoline is not subject to the "oil exemption" in the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, which establishes regulations for the cleanup of spills of hazardous materials near public water supplies (Peterborough Oil Company LLC v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2015-P-0199, Mass. Sup.).
BALTIMORE - Pfizer Inc. cannot be held liable as the apparent manufacturer of a subsidiary's asbestos-containing insulation, regardless of the test applied, a Maryland appeals court held May 31 (Harriette Stein, personal representative of the estate of Carl Stein, et al. v. Pfizer Inc., No. 1231, Md. Sp. App.).
CHICAGO - A woman's displeasure with the court's reading of precedent does not warrant reconsideration of a ruling finding that an asbestos-containing product manufacturer cannot be liable for household asbestos exposures, a federal judge in Illinois held May 31 in denying reconsideration and granting further dismissals (Doris Jane Neumann v. Borg-Warner Morse Tec LLC, et al., No. 15-10507, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70458).
PHILADELPHIA - A resident of the City of Philadelphia on June 2 filed a putative class action complaint in state court, contending the city knows its residential water supply is at risk for lead contamination and it has "actively taken steps to conceal the problem," and is liable for "deception by rigging its lead testing procedures" Eleni Delopoulos v. The City of Philadelphia, No. 160503980, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A more than $8 million asbestos verdict resulted from speculation or sympathy given evidence the joint compound in question contained asbestos for only part of the time and the inability of witnesses to place the plaintiff in its vicinity, Kaiser Gypsum Co. told an Oregon judge June 1 (David P. Hoff, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. 15CV23996, Ore. Cir., Multnomah Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 2 overruled arguments from two attorneys seeking reversal of an order barring them from participating in the Court-Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, after finding that the judge presiding over the litigation did not impose a "professional death sentence" when finding that the attorneys violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct (In re Deepwater Horizon: Glen J. Lerner, et al. v. Louis J. Freeh, No. 15-30265, 5th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - Finding complete preemption of state law involving railroads applies Supreme Court precedent and broad existing federal regulations and does not ask a court to adopt a new standard, two companies told the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in May 31 petitions for rehearing (Peggy R. Hassell, et al. v. Resco Holdings LLC; and ACF Industries LLC, and Thyssenkrupp Budd Co., No. 14-1715, 14-1804, 3rd Cir.).
ROANOKE, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia on May 31 remanded two lawsuits against Volkswagen Group of America Inc. over its alleged implementation of software designed to cheat emissions tests, ruling that the plaintiffs' claims do not raise a federal question (Willard Claytor, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America Inc., Nos. 16CV00197, 16CV00198, W.D. Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71037).
CLEVELAND - A court erred in granting a directed verdict on a punitive damage claim but properly admitted expert testimony that the defendant improperly construed as suggesting that "every exposure" to asbestos leads to mesothelioma, an Ohio appeals court held May 26 in affirming a $20 million verdict (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 103377, Ohio App., 8th Dist.).
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on May 31 ruled that he would not limit the scope of the depositions in one of the lawsuits pertaining to the lead contamination in Flint, Mich., despite the fact that witnesses may be subject to multiple depositions because of the volume of pending cases related to the water crisis (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 70470).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Upper Missouri Waterkeeper sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator in a Montana federal court on May 31, contending that the agency violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Administrative Procedure Act when approving replacement standards for water quality in the state (Upper Missouri Waterkeeper v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-cv-, D. Mont.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Virginia tobacco company that has produced and sold "Black & Mild" cigars and pipe tobacco for the past 40 years sued the Food and Drug Administration on May 26, claiming that its rights were violated because a new FDA rule forbids the company from branding its tobacco product as "mild" (John Middleton Co. LLC v. U.S. Food And Drug Administration, et al, No. 1:16-cv-996, D. D.C.).
WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - A judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on May 27 ruled that a company suing the former operators of a gas station that has allegedly contaminated local groundwater was entitled to reconsideration of its previously dismissed nuisance claim as to injunctive relief only (The Plumbing Supply LLC d/b/a Faucet Works v. Exxon Mobil Oil Corp, et al., and CPD NY Energy Corp. v. Cumberland Farms Inc., et al., No. 14CV3674, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69863).
ATLANTA - Only speculation permits the conclusion that Crane Co. required the asbestos-containing replacement gaskets at the heart of a mesothelioma lawsuit, a divided 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held May 27 (Mike Thurmon, et al. v. Crane Co., No. 14-15703, 11th Cir.).
MONTPELIER, Vt. - The Vermont Supreme Court on May 27 affirmed a lower court's ruling that concluded that the statute of limitations had run on the State of Vermont's claim for damages against gasoline producers related to groundwater contamination due to methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) (State of Vermont v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No, 2015-201, Vt. Sup.).
PHOENIX - A widow tells an Arizona federal judge in a May 24 filing that her promise not to seek enforcement during post-trial motions rendered it unnecessary to stay judgment arising from a $17 million asbestos verdict. The judge previously denied judgment as a matter of law on issues ranging from the sophisticated user doctrine to punitive damages (Sandra Brown Coulbourn v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, et al., No. 12-8141, D. Ariz.).
FRANKFORT, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on May 25 granted Volkswagen Group of America's motion to stay a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of Kentucky over the car maker's alleged installation of a device designed to defeat emissions tests, ruling that the case should not proceed until the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) decides on whether it should be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Andy Beshear, Attorney General, ex rel. Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Volkswagen Group of America, et al., No. 16-cv-27-GFVT, E.D. Ky.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68543).
SAN DIEGO - A co-worker's vague recollection that boilers originated with a specific manufacturer falls short of demonstrating asbestos exposure from its products, a California federal judge held May 24 (Gail Elizabeth Walashek, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 14-1567, S.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55013).
SAN DIEGO - The family of former professional baseball player Tony Gwynn filed suit in California state court on May 23, claiming that smokeless tobacco led to the salivary gland cancer that caused his death (Alicia Gwynn et al. v. Altria Group Inc., et al., No. 37-2016-00017104, Calif. Super., San Diego Co.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 20 reversed certification of a class of homeowners in a Minneapolis neighborhood who have sued General Mills Inc. for environmental contamination, finding that the class lacks requisite commonality and cohesiveness (Karl Ebert, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., No. 15-1735, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9233).
LONG BEACH, Calif. - The City of Long Beach on May 19 filed a lawsuit against Monsanto Co. and two of its affiliates in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, contending that the company concealed information regarding the toxicity of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that is manufactured, and city residents have been - or will be - injured as a result (City of Long Beach v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 16-3493, C.D. Calif.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on May 19 granted a plaintiff's motion in limine to prevent E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. from questioning his treating physician regarding causation in his claim that DuPont is liable for his cancer from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 24 ruled that the lead plaintiff in a putative class action that alleges personal injuries from exposure to fugitive chemicals from the closed Bhopal, India, pesticide refinery from which methyl isocyanate was released in 1984 failed to show that the court had new evidence that was sufficient to raise an issue of material fact in opposition to the defendant's summary judgment motion (Jargarnath Sahu, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 14-3087, S.D. N.Y.).
BALTIMORE - A couple failed to properly disclose the full range of products an expert would testify to, and their argument that the defense was to blame is "preposterous," a federal judge in Maryland held May 18 in excluding the testimony and granting summary judgment (Charles Lemuel Arbogast Jr. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 14-4049, D. Md.).
LOS ANGELES - An intermediary's general knowledge about the dangers of asbestos does not save a company from a $5 million verdict over its brokering of the sale of highly hazardous crocidolite asbestos fibers, the California Supreme Court held May 23 (William Webb and Jacqueline Webb v. Special Electric Company Inc., No. S209927, Calif. Sup.).