WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the Veterans Claims U.S. Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 refused to issue a writ of mandamus compelling the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to issue a rating decision because, the judge said, the record did not indicate that the secretary "engaged in an arbitrary refusal to act" (Bruno G. Bruni Jr. v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 14-3579, Vet. Clms.; 2014 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1887).
ATLANTA - The State of Georgia on Nov. 7 said it has sued the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in federal court to force the Corps to address requests for additional water supply at Lake Allatoona and to prepare up-to-date water control plans and manuals for the operation of two federally operated dams (The State of Georgia v. The United States Army Corps of Engineers, et al., No. n/a, N.D. Ga., Atlanta Div.).
WHEELING, W.Va. - An oil and gas exploration company being sued by a West Virginia couple for allegedly contaminating drinking water as a result of its hydraulic fracturing activities on Nov. 11 filed its answer to the complaint, contending that the plaintiff fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Charles E. Bertrand, et al. v. Gastar Exploration Inc., No. 14-00147, N.D. W.Va.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal judge in Oklahoma presiding over a lawsuit brought against Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) by a group of residents who allege injury from exposure to radioactive waste on Nov. 10 ruled that a discovery order should not be amended to provide for random selection of discovery plaintiffs (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-012723, W.D. Okla.).
JOHNSTOWN, N.Y. - A woman's epithelial mesothelioma was the same disease she was diagnosed with in 2002, making her 2012 suit untimely, a New York justice held Nov. 5 (Linda Wells v. Abex Corp., et al., No. 48156/12, N.Y. Sup., Schenectady Co.).
NEW CASTLE, Del. - The Delaware Supreme Court on Nov. 6 affirmed a trial court's denial of an insurer's request to permanently enjoin a respirator maker from prosecuting silica- and asbestos-exposure actions in West Virginia on the basis that an injunction would not protect the insurer from inconsistent judgments and would be inequitable to the claimants (The North River Insurance Co. v. Mine Safety Appliances Co., No. 8, 2014, Del. Sup.; 2014 Del. LEXIS 527).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The committee representing asbestos claimants in Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC's bankruptcy case on Nov. 7 accused Garlock of fraudulently withholding evidence for last year's hearing to estimate Garlock's asbestos liability and asked a North Carolina federal bankruptcy court to reopen the hearing. Garlock responded the same day that the committee's request should be denied because the committee had access to the evidence in question and fails to rebut the basis for the bankruptcy court's estimation ruling (In re: Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, No. 10-31607, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
PITTSBURGH - A farm, which is a limited partnership, on Nov. 5 voluntarily dismissed its complaint against a hydraulic fracturing company, which it had argued owed it compensation for use of its land for an impoundment (Dryer Farms LP, et al. v. Range Resources Appalachia, No. 14-01047, W.D. Pa.).
DALLAS - The Fifth District Texas Court of Appeals on Nov. 7 issued a notice that the clerk's record in the appeal filed by hydraulic fracturing company Aruba Petroleum is overdue and must be filed within 30 days in order for the company's appeal of the $2.9 million verdict to proceed (Aruba Petroleum Inc. v. Lisa Parr, No. 05-14-01285, Texas App., 5th Dist.).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - On a 3-2 vote, the Wyoming Supreme Court on Nov. 6 vacated a lower court's decision on how to supply water to a ranch being partitioned by members of the homesteader family (Alice A. Platt v. Ralph E. Platt, et al., Nos. S-13-0239, S-14-0053, Wyo. Sup.; 2014 Wyo. LEXIS 164).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York in a consolidated action involving claims for personal injury asserted by multiple workers who contend that they were exposed to harmful levels of asbestos at the site of the World Trade Center disaster on Nov. 5 ruled that the plaintiffs could not present medical evidence from their treating physicians because they did not meet the requirements for expert witnesses (In Re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation, No. 12-mc-102, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156976).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Illinois Joint Commission on Administrative Rules (JCAR) on Nov. 6 passed the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act (HFRA), which allows for fracking to proceed in the state. The JCAR passed the act unanimously except for one abstention, according to reports from both fracking supporters and those opposing the decision.
RALEIGH, N.C. - Where a man develops and dies of an occupationally related asbestos disease after retiring because of an unrelated disease, death benefits may be based on his last year of work, a North Carolina appeals court affirmed Nov. 4 (Shirley Lipe, et al. v. Starr Davis Company Inc., et al., No. COA14-90-2, N.C. App.; 2014 N.C. App. LEXIS 1127).
ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri denied Union Electric Co.'s motion to dismiss Sierra Club's lawsuit claiming that the opacity from emissions generated by the company violated permits it obtained under Title V of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and from Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), ruling that the group sufficiently stated a claim against the company and that the organization had standing to bring its suit (Sierra Club v. Union Electric Company, No. 14-cv-00408-AGF, E.D. Mo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156968).
MADISON, Wis. - To the extent that plaintiffs can "untangle" community asbestos exposures from those barred by workers' compensation statutes, they may proceed with nuisance claims against an employer, a Wisconsin federal judge held Nov. 4 in partially granting reconsideration (Milton Boyer and Kathy Boyer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-286, Richard Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-186, Janet Pecher, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-147, Virginia Prust, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-143, Roger Seehafer and Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-161, Wesley F. Sydow and Theresa Sydow v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 14-219, W.D. Wis.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Nov. 6 agreed to decide whether an expert's testimony regarding cumulative exposures to asbestos goes beyond "every exposure" testimony and whether consolidated trial prejudices defendants (Richard Rost and Joyce Rost v. Ford Motor Co., No. 309 EAL 2014/56 EAP 2014).
CONCORD, N.H. - The Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) sufficiently established that it has standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution to bring a lawsuit against a sand and gravel company whose discharges of storm water allegedly violates the Clean Water Act (CWA), a federal judge in New Hampshire ruled Nov. 6, holding that the group does not need to allege environmental harm to establish standing (Conservation Law Foundation v. Plourde Sand and Gravel Co. Inc., No. 13-cv-214-SM, D. N.H.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145953).
ATHENS, Ohio - The residents of the City of Athens voted Nov. 4 to ban hydraulic fracturing, while similar ballot measures in Gates Mills, Youngstown and Kent were defeated, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
SAN FRANCISCO - The First District California Court of Appeal on Nov. 6 denied writ of mandate to a defendant challenging whether a duty analysis applies in a strict liability case alleging exposure to asbestos, according to its docket (Kaiser Gypsum Company Inc. v. Superior Court of California for the County of San Francisco, No. A143265, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Two attorneys and a doctor accused of filing fraudulent asbestos actions against CSX Transportation Inc. will pay the railway $7.3 million, ending almost 10 years of litigation alleging racketeering and fraud, the company said in a Nov. 6 press release
HOLLISTER, Calif. - Residents of San Benito County, Calif., on Nov. 4 passed a ballot measure banning hydraulic fracturing within county limits, according to numerous news reports.
SHREVEPORT, La. - A gas-extraction company embroiled in a dispute with a pumping company over lost profits and damages in connection with a hydraulic fracturing operation on Nov. 5 filed a brief in Louisiana federal court, arguing that it does not have "an extraordinary duty of care" (Cudd Pumping Services Inc. v. Coastal Chemical Co. LLC, et al., No. 11-01913, W.D. La.).
DENTON, Texas - The Texas Oil and Gas Association (TOGA) on Nov. 5 sued the City of Denton in Texas state court, contending that the ordinance that the city passed banning hydraulic fracturing within the city limits is unconstitutional because it is preempted by state law (Texas Oil and Gas Association v. City of Denton, No. 14-08933-431, Texas Dist., 16th Jud. Dist., Denton Co.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California judge on Nov. 3 entered judgment on a $70,861,113 asbestos verdict against John Crane Inc. involving exposure in the U.S. Navy to gaskets and packing (Robert and Linda Whalen v. John Crane Inc., No. RG14711964, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 5 denied petitions for en banc review submitted by BP Exploration & Production Inc. and Anadarko Petroleum Corp., finding that alleged factual errors and errors in its legal analysis affirming a finding that the government was entitled to partial summary judgment on its Clean Water Act (CWA) claims against them did not warrant a full panel review (In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 12-30883, 5th Cir.).