LANSING, Mich. - The majority leader of the Michigan Senate and the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives - both of whom are Republicans - on Feb. 23 announced that they have created a joint committee to investigate the lead water crisis in Flint.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A law firm's study of asbestos personal injury claim evidence in the Chapter 11 case of Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC "shows widespread inconsistencies in the information single asbestos plaintiffs provide to the different" asbestos bankruptcy trusts, according to a Feb. 19 news release by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform (ILR).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court on Feb. 18 affirmed a lower court decision remanding a case involving a law firm's access to a county health agency's lead-poisoning records, ruling that the initial records request needs to be reviewed to determine what information, if any, can be released after all protected health information is redacted (Cuyahoga County Board of Health v. Lipson O'Shea Legal Group, No. 2014-0223, Ohio Sup.; 2016 Ohio LEXIS 423).
CHICAGO - A group of Chicago residents filed a putative class action in state court on Feb. 18, alleging that the City of Chicago is liable for elevated levels of lead in the city's drinking water and that it has failed to warn residents of the danger despite its knowledge of the risk, which was created as a result of the city's water main replacement project (Tatjana Blotkevic, et al. v. City of Chicago, No. 2016-CH-02292, Ill. Cir., Cook Co., Chancery Div.).
MADISON, Wis. - Employees living within 1.25 miles of a door-manufacturing facility utilizing asbestos introduced sufficient evidence that home-based exposures contributed to their mesothelioma, a federal judge in Wisconsin held Feb. 19 in allowing the claims while also ruling on the admissibility of deposition testimony and alleged "every exposure" testimony (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.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20207).
BENTON, Ill. - A man presents sufficient evidence of exposure to asbestos from a manufacturer's pumps, a federal judge in Illinois held Feb. 16 in denying the manufacturer summary judgment. In an earlier opinion, the judge struck another defendant's pretrial disclosures for being overly broad (Steven Watts v. 84 Lumber Co., et al., No. 14-327, S.D. Ill.)
SAN DIEGO - Defendants mischaracterize expert testimony that every exposure contributes to the final dose as every exposure causes disease, and their complaints regarding a second expert's immunohistochemical stain-based diagnosis are not grounds for exclusion, a federal judge in California held Feb. 16 (Gail Elizabeth Walashek, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 14-1567, S.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18623).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 17 denied a motion seeking certification of an interlocutory appeal in a groundwater contamination case that was initially dismissed as barred due to a statute of limitations violation (Lajim LLC, et al. v. General Electric Co., No. 13-50348, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19183).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) on Feb. 17 fired two employees and demoted a third in connection with concerns related to lead in the drinking water in Sebring, Ohio, concluding that the three employees all played a part in failing to ensure that situation was properly handled.
FLINT, Mich. - Flint Mayor Karen Weaver on Feb. 18 said that she intends to begin replacing lead pipes in the city next week to "restore safe, clean drinking water as quickly as possible" and called on Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to pressure the state Legislature to move immediately to approve funding for the first phase of her $55 million lead pipe replacement plan.
DETROIT - A resident of Flint, Mich., on Feb. 16 filed a putative class action in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the State of Michigan, its governor and various officials in the governor's administration, contending that the state is liable for the lead contamination of the city's drinking water because the state "completely overtook and replaced" Flint's city government prior to the water crisis (Angela McIntosh v. State of Michigan, et al., No. 16-10571, E.D. Mich.).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on Feb. 16 dismissed a majority of remaining claims against companies that responded to the incident, finding that they were entitled to derivative immunity under the Clean Water Act (CWA) and discretionary function immunity under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18248).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A magistrate judge assigned to a dispute between residents and an oil and gas company that they contend has contaminated groundwater as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations on Feb. 12 granted the company's motion to exclude plaintiffs' exhibits at trial on grounds that they pertain to water tests that were performed just a month before trial without notice being given to the company (Nolen Scott Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
DAYTON, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 11 dismissed with prejudice claims seeking cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against BPM Paper Inc. (BPM Paper), ruling that the plaintiffs failed to show that the defendant company is the successor-in-interest to Badger Paper Mills Inc. and BPM Inc. (Garrett Day LLC v. International Paper Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-36, S.D. Ohio; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17953).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal court must dismiss a lawsuit filed by various tobacco companies challenging a guidance document issued by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because the document is not a final agency action and the plaintiffs have failed to show they will suffer any significant hardship if review is withheld, the FDA argues in a Feb. 10 reply in support of its dismissal motion (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 15-1590, D. D.C.).
CLEVELAND - A man awarded $20 million for his wife's mesothelioma resulting from asbestos exposure from friction products told an Ohio appellate court Feb. 11 that the judge erred in granting a directed verdict on his punitive damages claim, completing briefing that has involved every-exposure testimony challenges, other evidentiary challenges and issues surrounding directed verdict (Mark Scwartz, et al. v. General Electric Corp., No. CA 15 102277, Ohio App., 8th Dist.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Feb. 12 filed an answer and affirmative defenses in Ohio federal court related to one of the Ohio residents that is a plaintiff in the litigation for personal injuries related to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8). The company denies all allegations in the complaint and contends that the plaintiff failed to plead facts sufficient to state a valid claim for "abnormally dangerous or ultrahazardous activity" (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C-8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. House of Representatives on Feb. 11 passed HR 4470, which amends the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and requires each owner or operator of a public water system to notify its customers when 10 percent of its customers have water containing lead at amounts greater than 15 parts per billion.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Feb. 10 denied the Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) request to apply the consultant corollary exception of the deliberative process privilege to a five-page draft of a letter that was shared with a Rutgers University professor who believes that global warming has spurred a phenomenon known as the "polar vortex," finding that the professor could not be likened to a government employee and that her opinion was not being sought to assist the office with forming a policy position (Competitive Enterprise Institute v. Office of Science and Technology Policy, No. 14-cv-01806, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15893).
NEW YORK - Potential recovery for asbestos-related injuries from a talcum powder manufacturer precludes a market-share liability claim against talc suppliers, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Feb. 9 (Keri LoGiudice and Joseph LoGiudice v. American Talc Co., et al., No. 190253/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Feb. 10 dismissed a complaint filed by the City of Evanston, Ill., against two energy companies for allegedly contaminating groundwater by improperly disposing of solid waste, ruling that the city's notice of intent to sue the companies was not specific enough to indicate the nature of the charges against them (Northern Illinois Gas Company v. City of Evanston, Ill. and City of Evanston, Ill. v. Northern Illinois Gas Company, No. 14-9227, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16331).
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Feb. 9 ruled that a group of defendants, including the trustees of an estate and two property management companies, is liable to the state for the costs the state incurred in remediating groundwater contamination from numerous chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) tretrachloroethylene (PCE), trichloroethylene (TCE) and 1,1,1-trichloroethane (1,1,1-TCA), that flowed downstream from properties owned by the defendants (State of New York, et al. v. Next Millennium Realty LLC, No. 06-1133, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15775).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Efforts by four cigarette manufacturers to revisit the majority of corrective statements for dissemination to the media already endorsed by the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals were rejected by a District of Columbia federal judge Feb. 8 as "ridiculous" and a "waste of precious time, energy and money" (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14744).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 9 voted 5-4 in favor of staying the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's enforcement of the Clean Energy Plan in order for challenges from 30 states to proceed through the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (State of Nebraska v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15A793, U.S. Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal jury in Pennsylvania on Feb. 9 awarded $1,085,000 in a mesothelioma case against Crane Co. and found it 30 percent liable, sources told Mealey's Publications (Lynn C. Dobrick, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 10-03202, E.D. Pa.).