WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 18 denied certiorari in a case in which a former maker of lead-based paint had argued that Wisconsin's risk-contribution theory violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution "by eliminating any meaningful causation requirement" (American Cyanamid Company v. Ernest Gibson, No. 14-0849, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on May 14 approved H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2015 (FACT Act), by a vote of 19-9.
ST. LOUIS - The federal judge in Missouri presiding over a lawsuit in which a resident contends that he suffered personal injuries as a result of exposure to radioactive material related to the Manhattan Engineering Project near the St. Louis Airport issued a discovery order on May 13 to resolve a longstanding dispute over the production of documents (Scott D. McClurg, et al. v. MI Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-361 [consolidated], E.D. Mo.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., which was sued by plaintiffs alleging personal injury and wrongful death in connection with a spill of perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C-8), on May 15 filed 33 answers to individual plaintiffs - which followed a boilerplate format - contending that they are barred from obtaining relief due to a prior class action settlement (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
MADISON, Wis. - Barry Castleman, though not an official historian, may testify regarding trade journals and government publications based on his knowledge about the history of asbestos, a federal judge in Wisconsin held May 14. The judge excluded "every exposure" testimony from trial, saying the plaintiffs failed to file a substantive response in support (Gary Suoja, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 99-475, Barbara Connell, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 05-219, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63170).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal judge in Oklahoma presiding over a lawsuit brought by residents who contend that they have been injured as a result of exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant operated by Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on May 14 ruled that some of HESI's experts needed to disclose to the plaintiffs what is referred to as "testifying expert considered materials" (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63223).
CAMDEN, N.J. - One of the railroad company defendants sued by New Jersey residents who allege personal injuries from vinyl chloride that was spilled as a result of a train derailment filed a document in New Jersey federal court on May 12 containing findings of fact contending that the judge should seal and redact portions of the transcript of the proceedings because a failure to do so is "highly likely to cause them serious injury" (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A court in the District of Columbia on May 12 ruled that a mother who has sued the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) alleging injuries to herself and one of her children as a result of lead in her drinking water was compelled to provide the defendant with the academic and medical records of the sibling to the minor plaintiff on grounds that the information is "unquestionably relevant" (Sandra Barkley v. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, No. 2013 CA 003811B, D.C. Super.; 2015 D.C. Super Lexis 8).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana overseeing lawsuits stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico erred when not holding an evidentiary hearing to determine if a man fraudulently induced BP Exploration & Production Inc. into entering into a $2.7 million settlement agreement, a 2-1 panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 13 (In re Deepwater Horizon; Elton Johnson v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 14-30269, 5th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Chevron Corp., which was sued by a group of more than 65,000 Nigerian residents who allege that the company was liable for damages caused by the explosion of a natural gas rig, on May 12 moved in California federal court for sanctions against five plaintiffs for failing to respond to the company's discovery requests for information on the specifics of the alleged injuries (Foster Ogola v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).
RALEIGH, N.C. - Regardless of the terms they couch it in, experts offer the incoherent, untestable and scientifically rejected opinion that every asbestos exposure substantially contributes to disease, an automaker and brake manufacturer told a North Carolina federal judge on May 8 (Graham Yates and Becky Yates v. Ford Motor Co. and Honeywell International Inc., No. 12-752, E.D. N.C.).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas House of Representatives on May 11 voted 126-11 to approve a bill that would require asbestos and silica personal injury claimants suing to recover damages for their diseases to file all claims they have with asbestos and silica bankruptcy trusts before a trial is held.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - The coordinating judge in the federal Engle cases pending in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida on May 11 approved a plan for distributing $100 million in settlement funds to plaintiffs in more than 400 cases (In re Engle Cases, No. 3:09-10000, M.D. Fla.).
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on May 7 denied a defendant company's motion for summary judgment in a Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suit brought by three groups complaining about discharges of pollutants from valley fills, finding that the groups have jurisdictional standing to bring their action (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Inc., et al. v. Pocahontas Land Corporation, No. 14-11333, S.D. W.Va.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59910).
RALEIGH, N.C. - Evidence of defendants' conduct after the dates of the last alleged exposure to asbestos from their products may be relevant for some limited purposes, a federal judge held May 11 in largely granting motions to exclude the evidence (Graham Yates and Becky Yates v. Ford Motor Co. and Honeywell International Inc., No. 12-752, E.D. N.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61291).
PHILADELPHIA - Illinois asbestos plaintiffs originally alleging nonmalignant diseases must file amended complaints alleging subsequent lung cancer, and on remand, the court must determine whether such amendment is proper, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held May 11 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation; plaintiffs - Collins, Doyle, and Larweth, Nos. 13-2087, 13-2088, 13-2090, 14-1235, 14-1755, 14-1756, 3rd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7753).
TAMPA, Fla. - An environmental group's lawsuit alleging that the City of North Port, Fla., and three state officials violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by allowing sand, 55-gallon drums and plastic sheeting to be disposed of at Warm Mineral Springs, a 200-foot-deep pond, was found untimely May 8 by a federal judge in Florida, who ruled that the materials were put there more than five years ago (Friends of Warm Mineral Springs Inc., et al. v. Gina McCarthy, No. 13-cv-3236-T-23TGW, M.D. Fla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60601).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Absent solid evidence that a man suffers from asbestosis, he cannot link his lung cancer to occupational asbestos exposure, West Virginia's top court held in affirming denial of workers' compensation benefits on May 7 (James Lawrentz v. Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood, No. 14-0711, W.Va. Sup. App.; 2015 W.Va. LEXIS 592).
SAN FRANCISCO - Maritime law imposes substantial factor causation and will govern a pending asbestos trial, a federal judge in California held May 8 (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60788).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The state's workers' compensation courts properly credited one set of experts relying on case-specific evidence over conflicting expert testimony, West Virginia's top court held May 7 (George A. Vaughan v. Alcan Rolled Products - Ravenswood LLC, No. 14-0817, W.Va. Sup. App.; 2015 W.Va. LEXIS 593).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 8 held that BP Exploration & Production Inc. can appeal some payouts made pursuant to the settlement agreement resolving business and economic losses stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, holding that a May 20, 2013, order entering final approval of the agreement violated BP's right to appeal (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 13-30843, 5th Cir.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A West Virginia court on May 7 reversed a decision that denied a claim for compensation filed by a technician against his employer, finding that the evidence supported his claims that his health conditions were caused by mold exposure at work (Tommy Jackson v. Fayette County Commission, No. 13-0460, W.Va. Sup.; 2015 W.Va. LEXIS 578).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The Oklahoma residents who sued Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) for alleged injuries from exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant operated by HESI on May 7 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court contending that the company should not be permitted to file a sur-reply brief opposing the plaintiffs' motion to compel discovery (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.).
DALLAS - Texas law protecting a premises owner from negligence claims arising from a subcontractor's work also protects it from its own contemporaneous conduct, the Texas Supreme Court held May 8 in affirming reversal of a $9 million asbestos verdict (Magdalena Adrienna Abutahoun, et al. v. The Dow Chemical Co., No. 13-0175, Texas Sup.).
CHARLESTON, S.C. - After finding that the sellers of a house were unaware of mold and moisture problems at the property when they sold it, a South Carolina federal judge on May 6 granted summary judgment for the sellers of the home (Albert M. Calland III, et al. v. Lloyd H. Carr, No. 9:14-cv-0420, D. S.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59175).