WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Jan. 28 affirmed without opinion a jury's verdict awarding the children of a woman who died from smoking-related illnesses $5 million after finding that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was responsible for her lung cancer (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Willie James Cheeley, et al., No. 4D14-1594, Fla. App. 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 1111).
LANSING, Mich. - A political advocacy group in Michigan on Jan. 28 released emails that show that in January 2015, officials in the state government were concerned enough with the water quality in Flint, Mich., that the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget (DTMB) agreed to provide water coolers for government workers in the city, while at the same time another state agency was telling residents that the water was safe to drink.
PHILADELPHIA - An administratively dismissed nonmalignancy claim belongs with a bankruptcy estate, but a subsequent malignancy is a distinct disease under the discovery rule and falls outside the estate's purview, a federal judge in Pennsylvania held Jan. 25 (Willard E. Bartel, administrator for Henry E. Boden v. A-C Product Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-31030, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8048; Willard Bartel [Felix Long], et al. v. A-C Product Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-31575, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8047).
SEATTLE - The City of Seattle sued Monsanto Co., Solutia Inc. and Pharmacia LLC in Washington federal court on Jan. 25 complaining that the defendants' manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) has contaminated storm water that runs off into the Duwamish River, which runs through the heart of the city (City of Seattle v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 16-cv-00107, W.D. Wash.).
CHICAGO - Genuine issues of material fact exist regarding a premises owner's control over work at its facility and whether the work constituted maintenance or improvements to real property barred by the state's statute of repose, a federal judge in Wisconsin held Jan. 22 (Beverly Ahnert, et al. v. Brand Insulation Inc., et al., No. 13-1456, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 427).
MILWAUKEE - The federal judge in Wisconsin presiding over eight lead paint poisoning lawsuits on Jan. 26 issued a comprehensive ruling denying the defendants' motion for certification of her decision on personal jurisdiction for the purpose of an interlocutory appeal, saying that the best way to advance the litigation is to proceed to discovery (Glenn Burton Jr. v. American Cyanamid Company, et al., No. 07-0303; Ravon Owens v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0441; Ernest Gibson v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0864; Brionn Stokes v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0865; Cesar Sifuentes v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 10-0075; Maniya Allen v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 11-0055, Deziree Valoe v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 11- 0425; Dijonae Trammell v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 14-1423, E.D. Wis.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 9596).
LIMA, Ohio - Asbestosis refers to a specific disease and not asbestos-related diseases such as lung cancer, an Ohio appeals court held Jan. 25 in affirming a widow's right to participate in the state's workers' compensation system (Fayrene Dennis, surviving spouse of Johnny Dennis v. General Motors Corp., et al., No. 4-15-09, Ohio App., 3rd Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 215).
DETROIT - The American Civil Liberties Union and other groups on Jan. 27 filed a lawsuit in Michigan federal court, alleging that state and local officials failed to comply with the federal law that requires cities to deliver safe drinking water to the public and showed "complete disregard" for the residents of Flint, Mich., in letting the lead water crisis in that city to develop (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) on Jan. 25 declared a "water supply emergency" for the Village of Sebring and proposed revoking the license of the agency that supplies drinking water to the village due to excessive levels of lead in the water.
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Jan. 25 that as part of the probe into the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., he had appointed a former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation to establish a "conflict wall" between the special counsel and the Attorney General's Office amid accusations from the Michigan Democratic Party (MDP) that the attorney general should be replaced by an independent investigator.
NEW YORK - Testimony that a man worked with a defendant's cast-iron pipes does not suffice to keep a company in an asbestos action, a federal judge in New York held Jan. 21 (Cheyanne Holzworth, et al. v. Alfa Laval Inc., et al., No. 12-6088, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7185).
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 Jan. 21 denied a motion to dismiss the complaint, ruling that while one of the defendants has never affirmatively indicated that it had been served, it remained silent for more than a year and has participated in the litigation (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).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A workers' compensation court properly admitted expert testimony linking asbestos exposure with a man's fatal colon cancer, a Pennsylvania court held in affirming an award of benefits Jan. 22 (Garrison Architects and Travelers Insurance Co. v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board [Piatetsky], No. 1095 C.D. 2015, Pa. Cmwlth. Ct.; 2016 Pa. Commw. Unpub. LEXIS 72).
WATERLOO, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on Jan. 19 approved a consent decree that would require the City of Waterloo, Iowa, to pay $272,000 in civil penalties to Iowa and the federal government and improve its wastewater treatment plant in order to resolve a lawsuit accusing the city of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging raw sewage into the Cedar River after finding that the settlement was reasonable (United States of America v. City of Waterloo, No. 15-cv-2087, N.D. Iowa; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7224).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The New Jersey federal judge presiding over a vinyl chloride exposure lawsuit on Jan. 21 issued a pretrial order that detailed the disputed factual matters between residents who contend that railroad companies are liable for their injuries and those same companies that deny that the plaintiffs have suffered "immediate and/or permanent injuries" (In Re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
ATLANTA - A power company on Jan. 19 asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to throw out a $3 million asbestos verdict against it, saying it owed no duty to household members while also challenging causation and expert witnesses (Melissa Ann Bobo and Sharon Jean Cox, as co-personal representatives of the estate of Barbara Bobo v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 15-15271, 11th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A judge did not err in excluding an expert nor in retrying punitive damages before a new jury after the first one failed to reach a verdict, a California appeals court panel held Jan. 21 in upholding the almost $4 million asbestos verdict (Patricia Casey v. Kaiser Gypsum Company Inc., No. A133062, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 19 dismissed a groundwater contamination lawsuit, concluding that the couple who alleged that manufacturers had poisoned their well water failed to sufficiently allege an imminent and substantial endangerment to their health and safety (Bradley Warren, et al. v. Johnson Matthey Inc., No. 15-01919, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6065).
DALLAS - A federal judge in Texas on Jan. 19 dismissed without prejudice a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when it failed to object to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to Georgia-Pacifica LLC in 2009, holding that the groups' alleged injury was not caused by the agency's inaction (Ouachita Riverkeeper Inc., et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-CV-4495-L, N.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 6107).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A Delaware federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 19 closed the Chapter 11 case of The Flintkote Co.'s Canadian affiliate, which has merged into Flintkote as part of the companies' reorganization and no longer operates its business (In re: The Flintkote Co., No. 04-11300, D. Del. Bkcy.).
EUGENE, Ore. - A federal magistrate judge in Oregon on Jan. 14 allowed the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers (AFPM) and American Petroleum Institute (API) to intervene in a lawsuit brought by young plaintiffs claiming that the federal government's inaction over carbon dioxide pollution is casing climate destabilization and ocean acidification, ruling that the manufacturers have a protectable interest in the lawsuit (Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States of America, et al., No. 15-cv-1517, D. Ore.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4719).
RICHMOND, Va. - Federal officer removal requires only plausible evidence of a colorable defense, and a former admiral's affidavit regarding Navy asbestos procedures suffices, a premises owner told the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 15 (Charles B. Brinkman and Louise K. Brinkman v. John Crane Inc., et al., No. 15-1752, 4th Cir.).
Residents of Flint, Mich., on Jan. 19 filed two putative class action lawsuits in Michigan state court, seeking damages for lead contamination in the city's water supply. One lawsuit names Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and his administration as defendants, while the other complaint names the City of Flint and its officers as defendants (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. N/A, Mich. Clms., and Melissa Mays, et al. v. City of Flint, et al., No. 16-N/A. Mich. Cir., Genesee Co.).
ST. LOUIS - Without expert testimony, a plaintiff cannot raise a genuine issue of material fact concerning actual exposure to mold and whether exposure to mold caused his alleged ailments, a Missouri federal judge ruled Jan. 14, granting summary judgment to the manufacturers and designers of a bed (Ralph Simon v. Select Comfort Retail Corp., et al., No. 14-1136, E.D. Mo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4475).
SEATTLE - A Washington state court on Jan. 14 declined to stay a case while the state's high court decides whether the expiration of a man's personal injury claim bars a subsequently filed wrongful death action (Geraldine Barabin, et al. v. AstenJohnson Inc., et al., Nos. 72626-9-1, 72720-6-1, 72721-4-1, 72722-2-1, 727224-9-1, 72725-7-1, Wash. App., Div. 1; 2016 Wash. App. LEXIS 47).