PASADENA, Calif. - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 21 reinstated the State of California and City of San Diego's claims for damages, nuisance and trespass against Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP over groundwater contamination of a parcel of land near Qualcomm Stadium, after finding that a federal judge erred when finding that a portion of an expert's opinion should be excluded under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals Inc. (509 U.S. 579 [U.S. Sup. 1993]) (People of the State of California, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, et al., No. 13-55297, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8418).
HOUSTON - Halliburton announced May 20 that it has reached a settlement with BP Exploration and Production Inc. to resolve any remaining claims the companies have against each other stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and resulting oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010.
ZUG, Switzerland - Transocean Ltd. on May 20 announced that it has reached settlements with BP Exploration and Production Inc. and plaintiffs who allegedly suffered economic losses as a result of the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, which would substantially end all claims against it arising from the incident (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
TOLEDO, Ohio - Marathon Petroleum Corp. on May 19 entered into a settlement agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency in which the company agreed to pay $5.7 million to resolve Clean Air Act (CAA) violations that included excessive emissions of air pollutants and failure to perform required recordkeeping and testing (United States of America v. Marathon Petroleum Corporation, No. 15-00994, N.D. Ohio).
ST. LOUIS - Allegations that a woman suffered take-home asbestos exposures arising from her father's work with military equipment put a manufacturer on notice that it could remove the action, regardless of the source of other alleged exposures, a federal judge held May 12 in remanding the case (Shandi L. Speedy and Billy Speedy v. 3M Co., et al., No. 15-391, S.D. Ill.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A trial court focused too intently on a decedent's testimony in finding insufficient evidence of exposure from two shipping companies in an asbestos action and applied the wrong causation standard for a Jones Act case, a Pennsylvania appeals panel held May 18 (Timothy Criswell, executor of the estate of Earl J. Criswell v. Atlantic Richfield Co. and Sunoco Inc., No. 2175 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Parties to a suit alleging a man contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos as a seaman settled May 18 during trial, sources told Mealey Publications. On May 8, the federal judge overseeing the case applied maritime law and found the substantial factor causation standard governed the trial (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 18 affirmed the conviction of a man found guilty of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when opening a release valve that discharged several thousand gallons of semi-treated wastewater into the Nisqually River within Mount Rainier National Park, finding that the evidence supported the conviction and that the judge did not err when denying the man's requested jury instructions (United States of America v. James Barber, No. 14-30050, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8146).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on May 15 denied a motion filed by the federal government for additional findings of fact to support the idea that cleanup costs for contamination at a portion of the Lower Fox River caused by NCR Corp. are not divisible, ruling that the evidence presented at trial and the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' instructions on the issue demonstrate that the harm is divisible and that costs can be apportioned (United States of America v. NCR Corporation, et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63926).
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on May 18 granted Crane Co.'s motion to dismiss its indemnity action against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on the condition that the parties return all confidential documents (Crane Co. v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 14-6509, C.D. Calif.).
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18 signed a bill that preempts regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the city level, overriding the fracking ban that was passed last year in a referendum that was approved in the City of Denton.
NEW YORK - A pathology report confirming that an in extremis asbestos plaintiff suffers from mesothelioma exempts out-of-town plaintiffs from traveling for deposition in New York City, the special master overseeing discovery disputes held May 15.
NEW YORK - Defendants' request for a stay of asbestos litigation during formulation of a new case management order ignores their own hand in the current order and the "extreme prejudice" and harm plaintiffs and the court system face from a stay, asbestos plaintiffs told a New York justice on May 14 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, No. 40000/1988, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
CAMDEN, N.J. - A New Jersey legislator on May 13 sent a letter to the U.S. attorney for the District of New Jersey renewing his call for a criminal investigation into the train derailment that spilled vinyl chloride into the Mantua Creek in 2012 (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
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 May 14 partially granted and partially denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants, concluding that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's claim for subrogation was dismissed but that its claim for potential violation of state statutes could not be dismissed at this time (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).
NEW YORK - A $20 million asbestos award exceeds what New York courts consider reasonable, meaning a widow must retry the damages phase of her action or stipulate to a $6 million award, a New York justice held May 15 in otherwise affirming the verdict (Charlene Hillyer, as executrix for the estate of Charles F. Hillyer v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190132/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 18 denied certiorari in a case in which a former maker of lead-based paint had argued that Wisconsin's risk-contribution theory violates the due process clause of the U.S. Constitution "by eliminating any meaningful causation requirement" (American Cyanamid Company v. Ernest Gibson, No. 14-0849, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House Judiciary Committee on May 14 approved H.R. 526, the Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency Act of 2015 (FACT Act), by a vote of 19-9.
ST. LOUIS - The federal judge in Missouri presiding over a lawsuit in which a resident contends that he suffered personal injuries as a result of exposure to radioactive material related to the Manhattan Engineering Project near the St. Louis Airport issued a discovery order on May 13 to resolve a longstanding dispute over the production of documents (Scott D. McClurg, et al. v. MI Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-361 [consolidated], E.D. Mo.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., which was sued by plaintiffs alleging personal injury and wrongful death in connection with a spill of perfluorooctanoic acid (also called C-8), on May 15 filed 33 answers to individual plaintiffs - which followed a boilerplate format - contending that they are barred from obtaining relief due to a prior class action settlement (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
MADISON, Wis. - Barry Castleman, though not an official historian, may testify regarding trade journals and government publications based on his knowledge about the history of asbestos, a federal judge in Wisconsin held May 14. The judge excluded "every exposure" testimony from trial, saying the plaintiffs failed to file a substantive response in support (Gary Suoja, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 99-475, Barbara Connell, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 05-219, W.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63170).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal judge in Oklahoma presiding over a lawsuit brought by residents who contend that they have been injured as a result of exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant operated by Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on May 14 ruled that some of HESI's experts needed to disclose to the plaintiffs what is referred to as "testifying expert considered materials" (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63223).
CAMDEN, N.J. - One of the railroad company defendants sued by New Jersey residents who allege personal injuries from vinyl chloride that was spilled as a result of a train derailment filed a document in New Jersey federal court on May 12 containing findings of fact contending that the judge should seal and redact portions of the transcript of the proceedings because a failure to do so is "highly likely to cause them serious injury" (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A court in the District of Columbia on May 12 ruled that a mother who has sued the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) alleging injuries to herself and one of her children as a result of lead in her drinking water was compelled to provide the defendant with the academic and medical records of the sibling to the minor plaintiff on grounds that the information is "unquestionably relevant" (Sandra Barkley v. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, No. 2013 CA 003811B, D.C. Super.; 2015 D.C. Super Lexis 8).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana overseeing lawsuits stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico erred when not holding an evidentiary hearing to determine if a man fraudulently induced BP Exploration & Production Inc. into entering into a $2.7 million settlement agreement, a 2-1 panel of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 13 (In re Deepwater Horizon; Elton Johnson v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 14-30269, 5th Cir.).