NEW ORLEANS - Asbestos exposure and not the resulting mesothelioma constitutes injury for the purposes of mental anguish damages, but even assuming plaintiffs witnessed the exposure, the event is not the type of traumatic event for which Louisiana makes such damages available, a federal judge held May 21 (Agnes Landry, et al. v. Columbia Casualty Co., et al., No. 14-220, E.D. La.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Plaintiffs who allege that Chevron Corp. is liable for damages caused by the explosion of a natural gas rig on May 26 filed a brief in California federal court opposing the company's motion for sanctions related to alleged failure of some plaintiffs to comply with discovery obligations. Furthermore, if granted, the sanctions should not apply to all plaintiffs, the plaintiffs say (Foster Ogola v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS - A shipmaker and a woman who alleges asbestos exposure from laundering clothing briefed a federal judge in Louisiana on May 26 on whether he must stay an asbestos case set for trial on June 22 during appeal of his remand order (Mary Jane Wilde v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 15-1486, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66642).
SAN FRANCISCO - An attorney acted in bad faith when he asked an asbestos expert about the connection between the plaintiff's chemotherapy and his renal failure after telling the court that such questioning was off the table, a federal judge in California held May 26 (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Residents who sued Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) in Oklahoma federal court alleging that they have been injured as a result of exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant operated by the company filed a brief on May 26 arguing that HESI's expert witnesses should be precluded (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.).
SALT LAKE CITY - The plain language of Utah law permits service on a defendant up until the time of trial, as long as a single defendant is properly served within the 120-day limit, the Utah Supreme Court held May 22 (Barbara St. Jeor v. Kerr Corp., No. 20130913, Utah Sup.; 2015 Utah LEXIS 171).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An expert can testify about the value of three rail lines that were buried and sold during remediation of a federal Superfund site because he is qualified, his methodology is reliable and his opinions will be helpful to a jury, an Alabama federal judge held May 22 in mostly denying a motion to exclude the expert's testimony (Gadsden Industrial Park, LLC, v. The United States of America, et al., No. 4:14-cv-00039, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 66878).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Senate on May 22 overwhelmingly adopted a bill that would force asbestos and silica personal injury claimants to file any claims they have with bankruptcy trusts before a trial could proceed on their tort system claims.
CAMDEN, N.J. - One of the railroad company defendants being sued by New Jersey residents seeking damages related to a chemical spill caused by the derailment of a train crossing the bridge over Mantua Creek on May 22 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court contending that punitive damages should not be permitted (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 21 reinstated the State of California and City of San Diego's claims for damages, nuisance and trespass against Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP over groundwater contamination of a parcel of land near Qualcomm Stadium, after finding that a federal judge erred when finding that a portion of an expert's opinion should be excluded under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. (509 U.S. 579 [U.S. Sup. 1993]) (People of the State of California, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, et al., No. 13-55297, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8418).
HOUSTON - Halliburton announced May 20 that it has reached a settlement with BP Exploration and Production Inc. to resolve any remaining claims the companies have against each other stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
ZUG, Switzerland - Transocean Ltd. on May 20 announced that it has reached settlements with BP Exploration and Production Inc. and plaintiffs who allegedly suffered economic losses as a result of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, which would substantially end all claims against it arising from the incident (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
TOLEDO, Ohio - Marathon Petroleum Corp. on May 19 entered into a settlement agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency in which the company agreed to pay $5.7 million to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations that included excessive emissions of air pollutants and failure to perform required recordkeeping and testing (United States of America v. Marathon Petroleum Corporation, No. 15-00994, N.D. Ohio).
ST. LOUIS - Allegations that a woman suffered take-home asbestos exposures arising from her father's work with military equipment put a manufacturer on notice that it could remove the action, regardless of the source of other alleged exposures, a federal judge held May 12 in remanding the case (Shandi L. Speedy and Billy Speedy v. 3M Co., et al., No. 15-391, S.D. Ill.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A trial court focused too intently on a decedent's testimony in finding insufficient evidence of exposure from two shipping companies in an asbestos action and applied the wrong causation standard for a Jones Act case, a Pennsylvania appeals panel held May 18 (Timothy Criswell, executor of the estate of Earl J. Criswell v. Atlantic Richfield Co. and Sunoco Inc., No. 2175 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Parties to a suit alleging a man contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos as a seaman settled May 18 during trial, sources told Mealey Publications. On May 8, the federal judge overseeing the case applied maritime law and found the substantial factor causation standard governed the trial (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 18 affirmed the conviction of a man found guilty of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when opening a release valve that discharged several thousand gallons of semi-treated wastewater into the Nisqually River within Mount Rainier National Park, finding that the evidence supported the conviction and that the judge did not err when denying the man's requested jury instructions (United States of America v. James Barber, No. 14-30050, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8146).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on May 15 denied a motion filed by the federal government for additional findings of fact to support the idea that cleanup costs for contamination at a portion of the Lower Fox River caused by NCR Corp. are not divisible, ruling that the evidence presented at trial and the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' instructions on the issue demonstrate that the harm is divisible and that costs can be apportioned (United States of America v. NCR Corporation, et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63926).
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on May 18 granted Crane Co.'s motion to dismiss its indemnity action against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on the condition that the parties return all confidential documents (Crane Co. v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 14-6509, C.D. Calif.).
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18 signed a bill that preempts regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the city level, overriding the fracking ban that was passed last year in a referendum that was approved in the City of Denton.
NEW YORK - A pathology report confirming that an in extremis asbestos plaintiff suffers from mesothelioma exempts out-of-town plaintiffs from traveling for deposition in New York City, the special master overseeing discovery disputes held May 15.
NEW YORK - Defendants' request for a stay of asbestos litigation during formulation of a new case management order ignores their own hand in the current order and the "extreme prejudice" and harm plaintiffs and the court system face from a stay, asbestos plaintiffs told a New York justice on May 14 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, No. 40000/1988, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
CAMDEN, N.J. - A New Jersey legislator on May 13 sent a letter to the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey renewing his call for a criminal investigation into the train derailment that spilled vinyl chloride into the Mantua Creek in 2012 (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation regarding groundwater allegedly contaminated by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on May 14 partially granted and partially denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants, concluding that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's claim for subrogation was dismissed but that its claim for potential violation of state statutes could not be dismissed at this time (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, No. 00-1898, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., No. 14 Civ. 6228, S.D. N.Y).
NEW YORK - A $20 million asbestos award exceeds what New York courts consider reasonable, meaning a widow must retry the damages phase of her action or stipulate to a $6 million award, a New York justice held May 15 in otherwise affirming the verdict (Charlene Hillyer, as executrix for the estate of Charles F. Hillyer v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190132/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).