OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal government's previous settlements with the former owner of a now-defunct oil refinery site that contributed to contamination of the Skull Creek in Cushing, Okla., does not bar it from pursuing a cost recovery claim under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act against another former owner, a federal judge in Oklahoma ruled Feb. 22 in granting the government's motion to strike counterclaims asserted by the defendant companies (United States of America v. Land O'Lakes, Inc., et al., No. CIV-16-170-R, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24305).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on Feb. 21 partially granted and partially denied motions to dismiss claims brought by a class of residents who contend that Chevron USA Inc. and related companies are liable for contaminating their groundwater with naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM), ruling that the plaintiffs have a valid strict liability claim but do not have a claim for punitive damages against all defendants (Joseph Robertson, et al. v. Chevron USA Inc., et al., No. 15-00874, E.D. La.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Testimony that a man worked with gaskets during an engine overhaul lacks any reference to who manufactured the gaskets or whether they contained asbestos, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held Feb. 16 in recommending summary judgment based on the lack of triable issues (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22590).
NEW ORLEANS - Plaintiffs in an asbestos exposure case are entitled to further discovery in an attempt to muster the difficult support they need to overcome jurisdictional issues against one defendant and must amend their complaint to allege more specifics against a second company, a federal judge in Louisiana held Feb. 16 (Robin Murphy, et al. v. Alcatel-Lucent USA Inc., et al., No. 15-5566, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21979).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on Feb. 21 filed an answer in California federal court, arguing that the personal injury case brought against it related to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, contending that the allegations against the company are "vague and conclusory and comprise attorney characterizations" about a product that "repeatedly has been found to be safe to humans and the environment by regulators in the United States and around the world" (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, N.D. Calif.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 17 issued an order canceling oral arguments in a case brought by residents of the city of Flint, Mich., who seek damages for injuries from exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water, ruling that the court is "obligated to examine" the subject matter jurisdiction of the case (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 17 found that a federal judge in Louisiana did not abuse his discretion when refusing to review a business's appeal of the Court Supervised Settlement Program's (CSSP) decision that it should receive $29,567.81 as part of the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement (E&P Settlement), holding that the plaintiff company was a startup business under the terms of the settlement agreement (Claimant ID 100009540 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 15-30964, 5th Cir.).
DETROIT - The Michigan Civil Rights Commission (MCRC) on Feb. 17 issued a report in which it said the "disparate response" to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., was the result of "systemic racism that was built into the foundation and growth of Flint, its industry and the suburban area surrounding it" and said the state should establish a "Truth and Reconciliation Commission" to deal with racial discrimination.
MINNEAPOLIS - A federal judge in Minnesota on Feb. 15 dismissed one cause of action but sustained the majority of a city's groundwater contamination lawsuit against 3M Co., finding that the company's argument that the city has not been deprived of its ability to use the groundwater is "unavailing" (City of Lake Elmo v. 3M Company, No. 16-2557, D. Minn.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22202).
NEW YORK - Despite the potential unfairness given the facts of a case, asbestos plaintiffs must demonstrate a continuity of ownership to show that an asset purchase constituted a de facto merger until a New York appellate court changes the standard, a New York justice held Feb. 15 in granting summary judgment (Ivette Montanez and Peter Montanez v. American Honda Motors Co. Inc., et al., No. 190409/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 493).
DAYTON, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 15 ruled that Garrett Day LLC and the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA) can pursue claims for cost recovery under Section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Ohio Volunteer Action Program (VAP) but that they could not pursue a claim for common-law nuisance because they do not own land adjacent to the contamination (Garrett Day, LLC, et al. v. International Paper, Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-36, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21643).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Feb. 15 transferred to the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California the case of a man who contends that his exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, caused him to develop NK/T-cell lymphoma (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
TRENTON, N.J. - Environmental advocacy groups on Feb. 14 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court contending that the court should stay their groundwater contamination case against NL Industries Inc. pending appeal (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal judge in Ohio presiding over the multidistrict litigation against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Feb. 14 issued an order vacating all current scheduling orders because the parties have informed the court that they have reached a global resolution of all cases comprising the MDL (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 14 awarded a total of $5.4 million to a family after finding that two tobacco companies were responsible for a woman's addiction to cigarettes, which led to her lung cancer and death (John Brown v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 15-002451-CI, Fla. 6th Jud. Cir. Pasco Co.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Some of the defendants sued by residents of Flint, Mich., in connection with that city's lead-contaminated drinking water crisis on Feb. 15 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that the court should consider decisions issued in other cases pertaining to the Flint water crisis (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.).
PHOENIX - The Arizona Supreme Court on Feb. 14 agreed to hear a woman's case claiming that state law imposes liability for take-home asbestos exposures, according to the court's docket (Mary Quiroz, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., et al., No. 16-0248, Ariz. Sup.; 2016 AZ S. Ct. Briefs LEXIS 221).
BAY CITY, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 14 granted in part and denied in part a motion to dismiss a class action lawsuit of purchasers of 2015 Chevrolet Cruze diesel vehicles that contained a defeat device designed to cheat emissions tests, finding that the plaintiffs had standing and that the case should not be stayed pending an investigation by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Jason Counts, et al. v. General Motors, LLC, No. 16-cv-12541, E.D. Mich., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20277).
NEW YORK - A New York appellate court on Feb. 10 reversed a trial court ruling and concluded that a realty management company was entitled to summary judgment on a lead-poisoning claim on grounds that the plaintiff failed to show that his cognitive deficits were caused by exposure to lead-based paint (Adrian T., by his mother and natural guardian Filiberta T. v. Millshan Realty Co. LLC, No. 2751, 22004/06, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1047).
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on Feb. 14 ordered a third-party claims-processing company to cease communications with members of a settlement class in connection with a $375 million deal between residents and Dow Chemical Co. related to injuries suffered from exposure to nuclear waste (Merilyn Cook, et al. v. Rockwell International Corp., et al., No. 90-181, D. Colo.).
COLUMBIA, S.C. - A federal judge in South Carolina on Feb. 13 denied a valve company's motion for summary judgment, holding that it must be left to a jury to decide whether the company specified the use of asbestos in its valves and whether that asbestos was a substantial cause of a former naval officer's mesothelioma (James Wilson Chesher, et al. v. 3M Company, No. 15-cv-2123, D. S.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20706).
SPOKANE, Wash. - A federal judge in Washington on Feb. 14 dismissed a counterclaim brought by Monsanto Co. and its affiliates against the city of Spokane, ruling that the company failed to state a claim for recovering costs from the city for remediating its groundwater, which is contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (City of Spokane v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-00201, E.D. Wash.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20846).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - Multiple California residents, in separate lawsuits based on a boilerplate complaint, on Feb. 13 filed their third amended complaints against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PGE) alleging that they had suffered "irreparable harm health injuries as a direct result of being poisoned with chemicals" from PGE's operations (Barbara A. Vinson v. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, No. 16-514, C.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on Feb. 10 entered default judgment against a property buyer that has failed to continue environmental remediation of a 16-acre site it purchased from a plaintiff company in 2014 and awarded the plaintiff $22 million in compensatory damages (8th Avenue Terminals, Inc. v. DeNovo Seattle LLC, No. C16-1964, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19363).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 8 remanded a false advertising suit against Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc. to a lower court after finding that it would be improper to consider the future brand value of its Natural American Spirit cigarettes when determining the cost of an injunction sought by an anti-smoking group and that the amount in controversy is not satisfied for federal jurisdiction (Breathe DC v. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Co. Inc., et al., No. 1:16-cv-2378, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17562).