TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeals on Feb. 8 dismissed an Engle progeny suit because her attorneys did not have the legal authority to file and maintain a suit on behalf of a dead woman (Raymond Staines v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 1D16-2655, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1817).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The city of Davis, Calif., was cleared of liability from a couple's request for contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by a federal judge in California on Feb. 6 after the couple failed to respond to the city's motion for summary judgment (Charles H. Lewis, et al. v. Robert D. Russell, et al., No. 03-2646, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532).
AMHERST, Mass. - Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Missouri-Columbia on Feb. 7 released a hydraulic fracturing study that suggests that the mammary gland in female mice is sensitive to mixtures of chemicals used in fracking at exposure levels that are "environmentally relevant." The researchers conclude that "the impact of these findings on the long-term health of the mammary gland, including its lactational capacity and its risk of cancer, should be evaluated in future studies."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A panel of the First District Florida Court of Appeal on Feb. 8 affirmed a lower court's decision to dismiss 73 Engle progeny suits filed by two law firms on behalf of deceased plaintiffs because "a dead person cannot file and maintain a lawsuit" (In Re 73 Engle-Related Cases, No. 1D16-2651, Fla. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 1819).
CLEVELAND - Testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures all contribute to mesothelioma does not meet the standard for causation in Ohio, the state's supreme court held Feb. 8 in reversing a ruling that affirmed a more than $1 million judgment against Honeywell International Inc. (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 2016-1372, Ohio Sup.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Contacts in furtherance of settlements suggesting asbestos exposures aboard U.S. Navy ships are "other paper" that make a case removable, but a woman's subsequent waiver of such claims warrants remanding the case, a federal judge in Oregon held Feb. 2. On Feb. 5, the defendants filed an emergency motion to stay remand (Maxine Pelker, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-1107, D. Ore., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17466).
PORTLAND, Ore. - A woman who reasserted asbestos exposure allegations giving rise to federal jurisdiction after remand cannot avoid removal a second time by once again rejecting those claims, a federal judge in Oregon held Feb. 2 (Melissa Coury, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 16-1796, D. Ore., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17463).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - The federal government and state of Wisconsin can pursue claims for future response costs from a company that has not settled a lawsuit stemming from the remediation of the Lower Fox River Superfund site, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Feb. 5 in granting in part the plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10cv910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18408).
MIAMI - A Florida jury on Feb. 6 awarded the surviving family members of a smoker who died from lung cancer $10 million in punitive damages, bringing the total amount of damages to $17.5 million (Kenneth Gloger v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2011-CA-23377, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir. Miami-Dade Co.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Feb. 2 denied a landowner's motion to enforce a settlement agreement with a city accused of contributing to perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination, finding that the city must first resolve a dispute with its insurance carriers to obtain coverage (Gary Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-CV-1257 AWI BAM, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17769).
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Allegations against a former railway employee allegedly responsible for safety destroy complete diversity and warrant remanding five asbestos cases, a federal judge in Montana held Feb. 1 (Kenneth Braaten, et al. v. BNSF Railway Co., et al., No. 17-94, D. Mont.).
DENVER - The city of Colorado Springs' complete demolition of an office building did not constitute construction or maintenance of the facility and did not waive its sovereign immunity protection against an asbestos claim, the Colorado Supreme Court held Feb. 5 (Smokebrush Foundation, et al. v. City of Colorado Springs, No. 2018 CO 10, Colo. Sup.).
ATLANTA - A former smoker who won a total of $26.5 million in an Engle progeny suit asked the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 2 to reinstate $20 million in punitive damages, saying the trial judge erred by revoking the damages (Judith Berger v. Philip Morris USA Inc., Nos. 15-15633, 16-10021, 16-15957, 11th Cir.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 5 awarded the family of a former smoker $27 million in punitive damages in an Engle progeny suit, bringing the total amount of damages to $40.9 million (Dawn Schlefstein v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-022558, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Michigan residents on Feb. 5 filed a consolidated brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that three separate petitions for writ of certiorari filed by various Michigan entities should be denied because a federal appellate panel "faithfully applied this Court's precedents" when it ruled that the residents' claims related to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., are not preempted by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (Daniel Wyant, et al. v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-901, Jeff Wright, et al. v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-666, and City of Flint, et al. v. Beatrice Boler, et al., No. 17-989, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Jan. 31 dismissed an inverse condemnation lawsuit against the federal government concerning drinking water that was contaminated with hexavalent chromium from McClellan Air Force Base on grounds that the case was filed prematurely (Rio Linda Elverta Community Water District v. United States of America, No. 17-859 C, Fed. Clms.; 2018 U.S. Claims LEXIS 47).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 1 denied a well services company's motion to dismiss a breach of contract lawsuit against it related to groundwater contamination that the company allegedly caused by failing to perform services properly on a hydraulic fracturing well site (EQT Production Company v. Terra Services LLC, No. 14-01053, W.D. Pa.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A trial court judge did not err when denying a landlord's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) after finding that a man provided sufficient evidence to show that the presence of lead paint in a home his mother rented when he was a child significantly contributed to his injuries, a Maryland Special Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 30 (Benjamin L. Kirson v. Devon Johnson, No. 1861 September Term, 2016, Md. Sp. App., 2018 Md. App. LEXIS 79).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge on Jan. 31 dismissed the Sacramento Suburban Water District's inverse condemnation suit against the federal government over levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water caused by the operation of the McClellan Air Force Base, finding that the suit was premature (Sacramento Suburban Water District v. United States of America, No. 17-860 C, Fed. Clms., 2018 U.S. Claims 44).
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey jury heard oral arguments Jan. 30 on whether a man's mesothelioma could have been caused by asbestos that contaminated the talc he used for years (Stephen Lanzo, et al. v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co., et al., No. L00738516, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.).
PHOENIX - An Arizona jury on Feb. 1 returned a defense verdict for CertainTeed Corp. after hearing earlier in the day that plaintiffs had not shown asbestos exposure from the company's pipe and that the case rests on pieces of evidence taken out of context, sources told Mealey Publications (Francisco Herrera, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. CV2014-009632, Ariz. Super., Maricopa Co.).
HONOLULU - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 1 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to five environmental groups, holding that a federal judge did not err when finding that the county of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui, No. 15-1744, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2582).
ST. LOUIS - An unopposed motion for summary judgment in an asbestosis case sufficiently shares common parties and claims with a subsequent mesothelioma case to warrant granting judgment under collateral estoppel, a federal judge in Missouri held Jan. 30 (Diane MacCormack, et al. v. The Adel Wiggins Group, et al., No. 16-414, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14579).
SAN DIEGO - Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries lack standing to assert counterclaims for response costs, defense costs and contingent liability, a federal judge in California ruled Jan. 30, finding that costs incurred in defending a lawsuit over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination do not constitute an injury-in-fact (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14996).
NEW YORK - Insufficient evidence links an asbestos floor tile company to New York for jurisdiction to exist in the state, a state justice held in an opinion posted Jan. 30, denying reargument (Richard S. Trumbull, et al. Adience Inc., et al., No. 190084/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5069, 2018 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 276).