DALLAS - The Texas Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Sept. 16 regarding whether BP Exploration & Production and its affiliates are covered as additional insureds for damages arising out of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 13-0670, Texas Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A study scheduled to be published in the forthcoming issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) and made available online Sept. 15 found that, with regard to hydraulic fracturing, when fugitive gas contamination occurs, well integrity problems are most likely associated with casing or cementing issues. The data do not support a finding that fracking "has provided a conduit" to connect deep Marcellus Shale or Barnett Shale formations directly to surface aquifers.
JACKSON, Miss. - After finding that a plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies in relation to claims that a detention center contained mold and other hazardous conditions, a Mississippi federal judge on Sept. 15 dismissed his complaint (David Barney Jr. v. Tyrone Lewis, et al., No. 3:13-cv-611, S.D. Miss.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128775).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. - A Missouri federal judge on Sept. 12 denied asbestos defendant Hennessey Industries Inc.'s motion for summary judgment, finding the "general citation to overarching principles" in choice-of-law briefing insufficient (John New and Beth New v. Borg-Warner Corp., et al., No. 13-675, W.D. Mo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127861).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company that purchases royalties and mineral rights for oil and gas exploration through hydraulic fracturing on Sept. 12 filed an amended class action complaint against a group of energy companies for allegedly underpaying royalties to the owners of mineral rights who leased property to be used for oil and gas production (Chieftain Royalty Company v. SM Energy Company, et al., No. 11-177, W.D. Okla.).
PHILADELPHIA - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. on Sept. 15 reached a consent agreement under which the company will pay civil fines of more than $1.85 million for injuries that were reportedly caused by the mislabeling of a pesticide that was misused as a broadleaf herbicide (In Re: E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, No. FIFRA 03-2014-0217, U.S. EPA, Region III).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A California attorney facing allegations that he filed fraudulent claims against asbestos personal injury trusts cannot pursue a lawsuit seeking to force six trusts that stopped offering settlements to his claimants to resume processing his claims, a Delaware federal judge ruled Sept. 12 (Michael J. Mandelbrot, et al. v. Armstrong World Industries Asbestos Personal Injury Settlement Trust, et al., No. 13-1032, D. Del.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 127652).
PHILADELPHIA - The New Jersey residents who lost their appeal against Lockheed Martin for injuries allegedly caused by the company's release of chlorinated solvents at its manufacturing facility in Burlington County, N.J., on Sept. 11 filed a notice of appeal with the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Michael Leese, et al. v. Lockheed Martin, et al., No. 11-5091, D. N.J.).
LINCOLN, Neb. - The Supreme Court of Nebraska on Sept. 12 reversed a state appeals court decision and concluded that a pollution exclusion in an insurance policy is unambiguous; therefore, summary judgment to an insurer who declined coverage to a landlord who was hit with a lead-paint poisoning lawsuit was proper (State Farm Fire & Casualty Company v. Jerry Dantzler, et al., No. S-12-1042, Neb. Sup.; 2014 Neb. LEXIS 147).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A hydraulic fracturing company that was ordered to pay a drilling company $194,389.44 for breach of contract and as indemnification for a well failure that led to contamination of drinking water wells on Sept. 11 filed a brief in Ohio federal court opposing the drilling company motion seeking waiver of bond requirements pursuant to federal procedural rules (Warren Drilling Inc. v. Equitable Production Co., No. 12-425, S.D. Ohio).
DENVER - The City of Longmont, Colo., along with environmental groups, on Sept. 10 appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals, arguing that a lower court decision that the city's ban on hydraulic fracturing was invalid was in error because genuine issues of material fact exist that require an evidentiary hearing (Colorado Oil and Gas Association, et al. v. City of Longmont, Colo., et al., No. 13-63, Colo. Dist., Boulder Co.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 9 ruled that an asbestos worker raised a triable issue of fact with regard to the injuries he suffered while remediating the World Trade Center disaster site following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks (In Re: World Trade Center Lower Manhattan Disaster Site Litigation, No. 09-680, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 126854).
ATLANTA - A panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 9 vacated and then affirmed its prior ruling upholding a lower court's decision in favor of E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. in a Benlate exposure case. The panel said the disqualification of a circuit judge on the original panel did not affect its conclusion that the now-deceased man, who had cancer, failed to provide evidence that DuPont was liable for his injury (Guillermo Ramirez v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, No. 11-10035, 11th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 17572).
INDIANAPOLIS - Even where an employer concedes exposure in an asbestos-related workers' compensation case, an employee still carries the burden of demonstrating that the exposure gave rise to his disease, an Indiana appeals court held Sept. 10 (Mary Ragon as personal representative of the estate of Larry Ragon v. Eli Lilly & Co., No. 93A02-1402-EX-80, Ind. App., 2014 Ind. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1205).
SANTA ANA, Calif. - A jury trial in a lawsuit brought by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) against more than 30 current and former property owners that allegedly contributed to "moving plumes" of contaminated groundwater is scheduled to begin Sept. 15 in the California Superior Court for Orange County (Orange County Water District v. Sabic Innovative Plastics, et al., No. 30-2008-00078246-CU-TT-CXC, Calif. Super., Orange Co.).
SALT LAKE CITY - Product catalogs, evidence of trade association knowledge and defendants' insurance coverages are admissible in an asbestos trial only to the extent that they address the products and knowledge at issue, questions that can be answered as they arise at trial, a Utah federal judge held Sept. 9 in partially granting four motions in limine (Arva Anderson v. Ford Motor Co., et al., No. 06-741, D. Utah).
PITTSBURGH - A U.S. magistrate judge in Pennsylvania on Sept. 10 ordered the parties in a nuclear waste contamination case to enter alternative dispute resolution (ADR) to settle claims that residents were injured as a result of toxic and radioactive substances released by companies operating two nuclear facilities (Michelle McMunn v. Babcock & Wilcox Power Generation Group Inc., No. 10-143, W.D. Pa.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A couple's post-removal disclaimer of asbestos claims arising from federal worksites warrants remanding the action, a Delaware federal judge held Sept. 8 (Francis J. Dougherty and Elizabeth F. Dougherty v. A.O. Smith Corp., et al., No. 13-1972, D. Del.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125302).
NEW YORK - Lung cancer claims differ sufficiently from mesothelioma claims to divide a proposed asbestos trial group into two groups, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Sept. 9 (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, No. 116852-2006, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) on Sept. 9 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) has improperly withheld records pertaining to the analysis of the impact that the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project will have on the environment (Center for Biological Diversity v. U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, et al., No. 14-01527, D. D.C.).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Sept. 8 dismissed Peoples Gas Light & Coke Co.'s claims to recover response costs under Section 107(a) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, ruling that its previous settlement agreements with the federal government barred the plaintiff company's claim (Peoples Gas Light & Coke Company v. Beazer East Inc., No. 14 C 2434, N.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 125264).
AUSTIN, Texas - A member of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) on Sept. 8 sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, seeking answers regarding what the U.S. State Department is doing in response to what the commissioner calls "disturbing information" that Russian President Vladimir Putin is funding anti-hydraulic fracturing groups and hiring lobbyists "to damage the U.S. natural gas industry."
RENO, Nev. - A federal judge in Nevada on Sept. 8 ruled that a citizens group that opposes a plan by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to issue leases allowing fracking in the Reese River Basin of Nevada had failed to provide evidence that the agency had made a "definitive statement" on issuing the leases in question and dismissed the group's action seeing an injunction (Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking v. the Bureau of Land Management, No. 14-00338, D. Nev.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Sept. 8 that a New York property owner and property manager were sentenced by a federal judge in the Northern District of New York to 21 months in federal prison for conspiring to violate the Clean Air Act (CAA) and the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) when illegally removing pipe wrap containing asbestos during renovations of three of the properties (United States of America v. John Mills, et al., No. 12-cr-00125, N.D. N.Y.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - A Minnesota appeals court on Sept. 8 affirmed a trial court's decision ordering that rent payments be returned to tenants, finding that their landlord failed to remedy mold and other problems at the property (Sharon Lee Brendalen, et al. v. Laxman Sundae, No. 14-0219, Minn. App.; 2014 Minn. App. Unpub. LEXIS 992).