SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Nov. 13 ruled that a defendant company in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit could not pursue negligence claims against a third party after finding that it failed to sufficiently allege damages and that the third-party defendant owed it a duty of care (Verse Two Properties LLC v. MedPlast Fremont Inc., et al., No. 14-cv-03765-EJD, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 154071).
LOS ANGELES - Testimony that a man could identify products and their asbestos content by color and style sufficiently establishes exposure from those products and it is for a jury to weight conflicting evidence regarding whether he worked only with metal parts, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Nov. 13 (Charles Curtis v. ABB Inc., et al., Nos. 13-56976, 13-56977, 13-56-978, 9th Cir.).
SAN JOSE, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Nov. 10 partially granted and partially denied dismissal of a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a couple who purchased property and learned of the presence of hazardous chemicals at levels of concern years after buying the land (Verse Two Properties v. MedPlast Fremont Inc., No. 14-03765, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152800).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - On Nov. 10, a group of tobacco companies moved for recusal of the District of Columbia federal judge assigned to their lawsuit against the U.S. Food and Drug and Administration over disputed marketing regulations, asserting that the judge's former tenure as partner in a law firm that provided counsel in an FDA-related campaign made recusal necessary (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, No. 1:15-cv-01590, D. D.C.).
MILWAUKEE - A plaintiff company in a cost-recovery suit brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act must disclose amounts of money it has received from its insurance company and other indemnitors and cannot shield the information under the collateral source rule, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Nov. 10 (Appvion Inc., et al. v. P.H. Glatfelter Co., et al., No. 08-C-16, E.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152456).
CONCORD, N.H. - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer asked a New Hampshire court on Nov. 9 to approve a $3 million settlement of environmental coverage claims between the liquidation estate and an electric utility company (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Company, No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Sup., Merrimack Co.).
CHICAGO - Two defendants' failure to brief a motion to dismiss after the original moving defendant was dismissed waived their opposition to continued litigation, and nothing suggests that the asbestos widow's short delay in moving to substitute herself as plaintiff was done in bad faith, a federal judge held Nov. 10 (Theresa Sydow, et al. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M, and Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., No. 14-219, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152160).
MADISON, Wis. - Defendants are entitled to depose an expert witness regardless of his testimony or their familiarity with it, a federal judge held in an opinion filed Nov. 9, while also consolidating for trial four asbestos cases involving alleged defects in respirators (Milton Boyer and Kathy Boyer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-286, Katrina Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-186, Janet Pecher, et al. v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-147, Virginia Prust, et al. v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-143, Roger Seehafer and Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 14-161, Wesley Sydow and Theresa Sydow v. v. Weyerhaeuser Co., 3M Co., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Owens-Illinois Co., No. 14-219, Brian Heckel, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 13-459, Dianne Jacobs v. Rapid American Corp., et al., No. 12-899, W.D. Wis.).
LOS ANGELES - Monsanto Co., which was sued by a man who contends that he developed cancer as a result of exposure to a toxic chemical that is an active ingredient in a line of herbicides the company manufactured, on Nov. 9 filed a brief in California federal court contending that the case should be dismissed because the claims are preempted by federal law (Enrique Rubio v. Monsanto Company, No. 15-7426, C.D. Calif.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - The City of Oakland on Nov. 10 sued Monsanto Co. and two of its affiliates in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, alleging that they are liable for contamination the San Francisco Bay with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and endangering human health as a result (City of Oakland v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. N/A, N.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK - The federal bankruptcy judge in New York presiding over the liquidation of Motors Liquidation Co., f/k/a General Motors Corp. (Old GM), on Nov. 9 ruled that with regard to the lawsuit against the company pertaining to defective ignition switches, punitive damages may be sought against New GM only to the extent that they are based on New GM's knowledge and conduct (In re: Motors Liquidation Company, et al., f/k/a General Motors Corp., et al., No. 09-50026, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
SEATTLE - Whitley Manufacturing Co. Inc. was liable for violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when it discharged storm water that came into contact with its industrial activities without a permit from July 20, 2008, until March 25, 2014, a federal judge in Washington ruled Nov. 9, when granting an environmental group's motion for partial summary judgment, finding that the water was a pollutant under the act (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Whitley Manufacturing Co. Inc., No. C13-1690RSL, W.D. Wash.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151901).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Nov. 10 announced that it has issued first product marketing orders through its premarket tobacco application pathway in relation to eight smokeless tobacco products.
SEATTLE - Recent case law clarifies that expiration of a man's personal injury claim also bars his widow's wrongful death action, a Washington appeals court held Nov. 9 (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; 2015 Wash. App. LEXIS 2726).
PHILADELPHIA - Deceased individuals have no legal existence and actions filed by them are nullities and cannot be saved by subsequent amendments adding viable plaintiffs, the judge overseeing the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation held Nov. 6 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI) Nicholas Destasio v. A-C Products Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 11-31250, Otto Schindler v. Foster Wheeler Co., et al., No. MDL 875, 11-33911, Dilbert v. Keystone Shipping Co., et al., No. MDL 875, 11-33924, E.D. Pa.).
CAMDEN, N.J. - A group of plaintiffs suing railroad companies related to a vinyl chloride spill from a train derailment in New Jersey on Nov. 9 filed a brief arguing that the case should remain in New Jersey federal court because "there is no evidence to the contrary" that would indicate that it belongs in a different venue (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Nov. 5 allowed a geoscientist with 29 years of experience to testify in a suit over whether an environmental consulting company was negligent when finding that the former site of a dry cleaning business did not need to be remediated, holding that the expert was qualified and that he set forth a sufficient factual basis for his opinions (6001 May LLC, et al. v. Stamatis Enterprises Inc., et al., No. CIV-14-482-M, W.D. Okla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150263).
NORFOLK, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia on Nov. 6 denied a motion to dismiss filed by Virginia Power and Electric Co., doing business as Dominion Virginia Power, after finding that Sierra Club had standing to bring a lawsuit accusing the energy company of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging coal ash into groundwater that eventually leads to a navigable body of water (Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric and Power Company, d/b/a Dominion Virginia Power, No. 15cv112, E.D. Va.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 151200).
RALEIGH, N.C. - Material data sheets from two companies whose automotive parts allegedly exposed a man to asbestos are not a sufficient basis for an expert's causation testimony, a federal judge in North Carolina held Nov. 5 in affirming exclusion of the evidence (Graham Yates and Becky Yates v. Ford Motor Co. and Honeywell International Inc., No. 12-752, E.D. N.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150429).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - The Supreme Court of Illinois on Nov. 4 reversed an appeals court ruling reinstating a $10.1 billion consumer fraud verdict stemming from Philip Morris USA Inc.'s marketing of "light" cigarettes (Sharon Price, et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., No. 117687, Ill. Sup.; 2015 Ill. LEXIS 1265).
PENSACOLA, Fla. - A jury in Florida on Nov. 5 awarded the members of a family $650,000 in damages against Philip Morris USA Inc. for the lung cancer death of their husband and father as a result of his addiction to nicotine in cigarettes, ignoring jury instructions that called for an award of $2.3 million. The award included $325,000 equally for compensatory damages and punitive damages (Micah Danielson v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CA-002737, Fla. Cir., 1st Jud. Cir.).
CINCINNATI - A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 2 affirmed a federal judge in Kentucky's ruling that a lawsuit brought by nearby residents accusing a whiskey distilling facility of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) is not preempted by the statute, holding that the language of a citizen suit savings clause in the act allows for such lawsuits (Bruce Merrick, et al. v. Diageo Americas Supply Inc., No. 14-6198, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19096).
CHICAGO - While it creates a harsh outcome, Illinois law forecloses on a tort remedy for a man whose mesothelioma arose outside the state's 25-year limit on workers' compensation claims, the majority of the Illinois Supreme Court held Nov. 4 (Ellen Folta, et al. v. Ferro Engineering, a division of ON Marine Services Co., No. 118070, Ill. Sup.).
WARREN, Ohio - An Ohio appeals panel on Nov. 2 dismissed an appeal filed by a subsequent owner of a parcel of land involved in a Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit brought by the State of Ohio on behalf of its Environmental Protection Agency, finding that an order awarding summary judgment to the owner's co-defendants on their cross-claims was not final even though the document stated that it was (State of Ohio, ex rel. Michael DeWine, Ohio Attorney General v. RAAW LLC, et al., No. 2015-T-0046, Ohio App., 11th Dist.; 2015 Ohio App. LEXIS 4422).
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - A federal jury in Illinois hearing an asbestosis case involving exposures in the U.S. Navy found for lone remaining defendant John Crane Inc. on Oct. 29 (Andrew V. Kochera v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 14-29, S.D. Ill.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125726).