NEW YORK - The attorney representing a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for personal injuries caused by the company's oil operations in the Lago Agrio region of Ecuador filed a reply brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 18, contending that Chevron's fraud action against the attorney should be dismissed in its entirety. Moreover, the attorney says that remand for further proceedings is unnecessary but that in the event of remand, the case should be reassigned to a different district judge (Chevron Corporation v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 14-826, 2nd Cir.).
TAMPA, Fla. - The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA)'s contraceptive mandate infringes on religious beliefs, a Christian retirement community argues in a Dec. 18 reply filed in Florida federal court (Christian and Missionary Alliance Foundation Inc., et al. v. Sylvia Mathews Burwell, et al., No. 14-580, M.D. Fla.).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Dec. 17 dismissed a lawsuit brought by residents who contended that their drinking wells were contaminated by the activities of an oil and gas exploration company, ruling that the plaintiffs' expert should be stricken because he did not review isotopic tests of the allegedly contaminated areas (Jason Baker, et al. v. Anschutz Exploration Corporation, No 11-6119, W.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174442).
LONDON - Imperial Tobacco Canada, a subsidiary of British American Tobacco, will pay $575 million to settle asbestos-related litigation involving The Flintkote Co., the company announced Dec. 16 in a news release.
HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on Dec. 17 awarded judgment to ExxonMobil Corp. after finding that the company did not violate the Clean Air Act (CAA) when emissions from its Baytown, Texas, refinery exceeded permitted levels and that the company properly investigated and remedied the problems (Environment Texas Citizen Lobby Inc., et al. v. ExxonMobil Corporation, et al., No. 10-cv-4969, S.D. Texas).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A woman's request for a new trial fails because she made a tactical decision to forgo such relief after a defendant violated an evidence order, an Illinois appeals court held Dec. 16 (Carol Holloway v. Sprinkmann Sons Corp. of Illinois, No. 4-13-1118, Ill. App., 4th Dist.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - One of the federal judges overseeing the class action multidistrict litigation filed by Ohio residents who contend that E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. is liable for wrongful death and other injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid on Dec. 17 denied the company's motion for partial summary judgment, finding that DuPont has contractually agreed to a finding of general causation (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, S.D. Ohio).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A federal judge in Delaware on Dec. 17 ruled that a creditor who contends that a bankrupt company was guilty of contaminating groundwater in California by releasing volatile organic compounds was not entitled to relief from the automatic bankruptcy stay to pursue litigation in California (Orange County Water District v. The Fairchild Corp. [In Re: The Fairchild Corp.], No. 09-10899, D. Del.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174022).
BATON ROUGE, La. - The federal judge presiding over a chemical exposure case in Louisiana on Dec. 17 denied a motion filed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co. seeking to limit the testimony of plaintiffs' experts, which the company sought to limit on grounds of relevance (Jeffrey M. Simoneaux v. E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, No. 12-219, M.D. La.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Any evidence gleaned from deposing an asbestos trust representative would be cumulative of and more easily obtained through the trust's governing documents, a Rhode Island judge held Dec. 16 (Maureen Gallagher, et al. v. American Insulated Wire Corp., et al., No. PC11-5269, Constance Podedworny, et al. v. American Insulated Wire Corp., et al., No. PC11-5268, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 174226).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal grand jury in the Southern District of West Virginia on Dec. 17 indicted Freedom Industries Inc. and six former officials over a spill that discharged 10,000 gallons of 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol (MCHM) into the Elk River in January 2014, according to a filing in federal court (United States of America v. Freedom Industries Inc., et al., No. 14-cr-00275, S.D. W.Va.).
PHILADELPHIA - A medical expert opined that a woman's fatal disease arose from take-home exposures, but he never linked her specific exposures to the disease as required by the asbestos multidistrict litigation guidelines, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held in affirming dismissal of the case on Dec. 17 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation [No. VI], Angie Smiddy, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., No. 13-4423, 3rd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 23735).
ST. LOUIS - After finding that statements allegedly made by a homeowner in relation to mold and water damage to her property were not admissible, a Missouri federal judge on Dec. 16 denied an insurer's request to amend its counterclaim to include a cause of action for fraudulent misrepresentation (Victoria Cento v. Allstate Property & Casualty Insurance Co., No. 12-85, E.D. Mo.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173170).
ALBANY, N.Y. - The commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) on Dec. 17 announced at a meeting of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's cabinet that he will "issue a legally binding findings statement" that will prohibit high-volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF) in the state, according to a press release.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A private military contractor being sued by residents of Ecuador for allegedly causing personal injuries as a result of spraying herbicides on Dec. 16 moved for summary judgment in District of Columbia federal court, contending that the plaintiffs are unable to substantiate any of their allegations of personal injury (Venancia Aguasanta Arias, et al. v. DynCorp, No. 01-01908, and Nestor Ermogenes Arroyo Quinteros, et al. v. DynCorp, No. 07-01042, D. D.C. [consolidated]).
TRENTON, N.J. - Insurers owe no coverage for injuries sustained as a result of toxic mold because a fungus exclusion clearly bars coverage for the injuries, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court said Dec. 11 (William Hurst, et al. v. American Zurich Insurance Co., et al., No. A-5447-12T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2014 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2866).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Dec. 15 declined to hear arguments in a lawsuit where a federal court had overruled a chemical company's challenge regarding the credibility of a plaintiff's expert in a groundwater contamination case. The company had contended that the federal court's ruling conflicted with Supreme Court precedent (SQM North America Corp. v. City of Pomona, Calif., No. 14-297, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Dec. 15 remanded a veteran's claim for coverage of hearing loss that he contended was connected to his service in Vietnam when he was exposed to Agent Orange, ruling that the Board of Veterans Appeals relied on "inadequate" medical opinion when it denied the veteran benefits (Douglass F. Johnston v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 13-3227, Vet. Clms.; 2014 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 2054).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Dec. 15 reversed a trial court's ruling dismissing homeowners' claims that their insurer acted negligently when it made false assurances in relation to the toxicity of mold in their house and remanded the case for further proceedings (David Bruno, et al. v. Erie Insurance Co., et al., No. 25 WAP 2013, Pa. Sup.; 2014 Pa. LEXIS 3319).
NEW YORK - A New York City jury on Dec. 12 found that a boiler maker failed to warn about the hazards of asbestos and awarded a man's estate $20 million while holding the defendant 30 percent liable (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.).
DES MOINES, Iowa - In a majority ruling, the Iowa Supreme Court on Dec. 12 found that the implied warranty of workmanlike construction did not extend to a bank that sought to recover costs related to a mold infestation in an apartment complex it acquired through foreclosure (Luana Savings Bank v. Pro-Build Holdings Inc., et al., No. 13-0060, Iowa Sup.; 2014 Iowa Sup. LEXIS 109).
NEW ORLEANS - Even five days of alleged asbestos exposure constitute a potential substantial cause of a man's asbestosis, a Louisiana appeals court panel held Dec. 10 in reversing summary judgment for an employer (Edward Anthony Alberes, et al. v. Anco Insulations Inc., et al., No. 2013-CA-1549, La. App., 5th Cir.; 2014 La. App. Unpub. LEXIS 706).
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A judge had both authority and grounds to grant dismissals with prejudice, but the dismissals apply only to the three moving defendants and do not reach other defendants in an asbestos case, the Kentucky appeals court held Dec. 12 (James W. Fuqua and Sandra L. Fuqua v. Flour-Daniel Illinois Inc., et al., No. 2012-CA-002179-MR, Ky. App.; 2014 Ky. App. Unpub. LEXIS 953).
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - A Virgin Islands federal judge on Dec. 11 found that the court did not err when it previously refused to allow an internal revenue worker's experts to testify on causation in relation to her alleged mold-related injuries and refused to grant her a new trial (Lorraine Smith v. Sydney Katz, No. 2010-39, D. Virgin Islands; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47493).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri appeals court on Dec. 9 found that a genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether mold exposure exacerbated tenants' respiratory issues and remanded the case for further proceedings (Shannon Brown, as successor personal representative for the Estate of Daniel Kruse v. Seven Trails Investors LLC, et al., No. ED100593, Mo. App., Div. 4; 2014 Mo. App. LEXIS 1383).