CLEVELAND - A judge erred when he failed to conduct a hearing on the underpinnings of two experts' testimony that every exposure to asbestos contributes to disease, an Ohio appeals court held May 5 (Barbara Watkins, et al. v. Affinia Group, et al., No. CA-15-102538, Ohio App., 8th Dist.).
NEW ORLEANS - Whether a premises owner owed a duty to the wife of an independent contractor's employee is a jury question, a Louisiana appeals court held May 4 in reversing summary judgment on the issue (Elizabeth Gailyne Sutherland v. Alma Plantation LLC, et al., No. 2015-CA-1136, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2016 La. App. LEXIS 885).
WASHINGTON D.C. - The Food and Drug Administration on May 5 announced that it will soon regulate the sale and distribution of all tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, cigars, hookah tobacco and pipe tobacco. The agency currently regulates cigarette, cigarette tobacco, roll-your-own tobacco and smokeless tobacco.
DETROIT - An employee of the City of Flint, Mich., who is one of three men indicted in connection with the Flint lead-contaminated water crisis, has reached a plea deal with the special prosecutor, the Michigan attorney general announced May 3.
TRENTON, N.J. - A group of residents on May 2 filed a purported class action in New Jersey federal court seeking compensatory and punitive damages against Gov. Chris Christie and officials associated with Newark Public Schools in relation to lead-contaminated drinking water in the city and its schools (Veronica Branch, et al v. Chris Christie, et al., No. 16-2467, D. N.J.).
NEW YORK - Plaintiffs may present expert testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures lead to mesothelioma, a New York justice held in an opinion posted May 3 (Alice Butera, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 102479/2003, Helena D. Miskill, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 109496/2003, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A woman who won an Engle progeny verdict against Philip Morris USA Inc. asked a federal judge in Florida on May 2 to deny the tobacco company's motion to stay her motion to reinstate her punitive damages award, saying it would be "needlessly cruel" to stay her 20-year-old case (Judith Berger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 3:09-cv-14157, M.D. Fla.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - An automobile brake-grinding-machine manufacturer must face claims arising from a man's asbestos exposure because the evidence suggests the machines' use would inevitably create a hazardous condition, a California appeals court held April 28 (Susan Hetzel v. Hennessy Industries Inc., No. A144218, Calif. App., 1st Dist.; 2016 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3167).
LOS ANGELES - California's high court should accept review of a $2 million verdict in an asbestos case and firmly establish that testimony that any exposure to asbestos causes disease falls short of the state's causation standard, amici curiae argue in an April 29 brief (Nickole Davis, as personal representative, etc. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. S233753, Calif. Sup.).
NEW YORK - New York's high court will hear oral argument on May 3 on whether a lower court erred in affirming the consolidated trial of two asbestos cases involving different types of exposures and resulting disease (In the Matter of New York City Asbestos Litigation; Ruby E. Konstantin, individually and as executrix of the estate of Dave John Konstantin v. 630 Third Ave. Associates, et al., No. APL-2014-00317, N.Y. App.).
NEW YORK - An appeals court erred in finding that Ford USA's control over the brand's trademark placed it sufficiently in the chain of distribution for liability arising from Ford UK's asbestos-containing products, New York's high court held May 3 (Raymond Finerty, et al. v. Abex Corp., et al., No. 190187/10 14344 14343, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).
NEW YORK - A third-party defendant in a groundwater contamination lawsuit on April 28 filed a brief in New York federal court, arguing that the third-party plaintiff should not be permitted to amend its complaint because its claims are "futile" (The Plumbing Supply LLC v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., et al., No. 14CV3674, S.D. N.Y.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on April 29 denied E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co.'s motion to dismiss a punitive damages claim against it in a lawsuit brought for injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), determining that a "reasonable jury" could find that the evidence "clearly and convincingly" showed DuPont's "conscious disregard" for the rights and safety of the plaintiffs (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
INDIANAPOLIS - A divided Indiana Supreme Court on April 28 denied rehearing in the case striking down the state's 10-year statute of repose in asbestos cases (Larry Myers and Loa Myers v. Crouse-Hinds, Division of Cooper Industries Inc.; and Lorillard Tobacco Co. and Hollingsworth & Vose, No. 49S00-1502-MI-119, General Electric Co. v. Mary R. Geyman, et al., No. 49S00-1501-MI-35, Owens-Illinois Inc. v. Mary R. Geyman, et al., No. 49SS00-1501-MI-36, Ind. Sup.).
NEW YORK - New York's top court will hear oral argument on May 3 on whether manufacturers can be held liable for third-party asbestos-containing replacement parts, according to the court's website (In the Matter of New York City Asbestos Litigation; Doris Kay Dummitt, et al. v. A.W. Chesterton, et al., No. 2014-00209, N.Y. App.).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - Three veterans groups on April 27 filed a complaint in a Connecticut federal court seeking to compel the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to comply with their request under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) pertaining to information about contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, which the group maintains has put nearly 1 million soldiers and civilians at risk for various injuries including bladder cancer, leukemia, kidney cancer, and liver cancer (The Few, The Proud, The Forgotten, et al. v. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, No. 16-647, D. Conn.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A Maryland appeals panel on April 27 affirmed a lower court ruling and held that a mother who sued her landlord alleging that her son had been poisoned by lead paint in their rental property failed to provide the landlord with notice (William Harris, by and through his mother Natonia Ratchford v. Housing Authority of Baltimore City, No. 43, Sept. Term 2015; 2016 Md. App. LEXIS 40).
LOS ANGELES - A California jury hit respirator manufacturer American Optical Corp. with a $32 million verdict April 26, including $22.8 million in compensatory damages and $10 million in punitive damages. Sources told Mealey Publications that it is the first punitive damages award against the company related to its respirators (William and Becky Tyler, et al. v. American Optical Corp., et al., No. BC588866, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on April 28 knocked a $25 million asbestos verdict against a brake grinder manufacture down to $9 million but otherwise rejected challenges to the verdict, according to documents filed with the court (Walter Miller v. BMW of North America LLC, et al., No. 190087/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio residents who are suing E.I. du Pont De Nemours and Co. alleging that they have been injured as a result of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) filed a brief in an Ohio federal court on April 27, contending that it should compel the company to provide "relevant and discoverable financial information" related to a company that DuPont spun off, as well as related to its merger with Dow Chemical Co. (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri on April 26 remanded a lawsuit filed by the state's attorney general against the owner of a landfill where there is an underground trash fire occurring, ruling that expert reports filed in association with the lawsuit do not trigger federal question jurisdiction simply because they mention the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's control over radiologically impacted materials (RIM) (United States of America, ex rel. Attorney General Chris Koster, et al. v. Republic Services Inc., et al., No. 15CV1506 RLW, E.D. Mo.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55273).
PALM BEACH, Fla. - A jury in Florida on April 27 awarded the widow of a smoker who died from lung cancer $12.5 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to the family to $33.5 million (Purdo v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007CA024173, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
HARTFORD, Conn. - Answering a certified question from the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, the Connecticut Supreme Court said in an opinion scheduled to be released May 3 that the Restatement (Second) of Torts does not preclude suits premised on strict liability against cigarette manufacturers and upheld a verdict in favor of a woman who sued R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. after developing laryngeal cancer (Barbara A. Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 19232, Conn. Sup.; 2016 Conn. LEXIS 100).
BOSTON - A trial judge did not err in excluding plaintiffs' specific causation expert in a toxic tort case, a majority of the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held April 25, also affirming summary judgment to the product manufacturer accused (Brian Milward and Linda J. Milward v. Rust-Oleum Corp., No. 13-2132, 1st Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7470).
DETROIT - Plaintiffs in one of several class actions filed against Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder over the lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich., on April 26 filed a brief in Michigan federal court in further support of their motion to consolidate class actions, contending that the other plaintiffs who oppose consolidation make an "erroneous assertion" that consolidation is premature (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).