WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - A group of Pennsylvania residents who sued natural gas extraction companies that they allege contaminated drinking water wells through hydraulic fracturing operations on Jan. 7 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court opposing the companies' motion seeking a Lone Pine case management order (Sheila Russell, et al. v. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, et al., No. 14-148, M.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A collection of environmental groups on Jan. 7 filed a lawsuit in District of Columbia federal court against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, alleging violations of federal law that have allowed hydraulic fracturing companies to remain exempt from "one of the nation's most basic toxic pollution reporting mechanisms: the Toxics Release Inventory (TRI)" (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 15-17, D. D.C.).
SAN ANTONIO - A Texas appeals court on Jan. 7 affirmed summary judgment in favor of the sellers of a house, finding no material issue of fact as to whether they failed to fully disclose information about water and mold conditions at the time of sale (Mike and Geri Jones v. Robert and Patricia Zearfoss, No. 04-14-00083, Texas App.; 4th Dist., 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 25).
MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin high court on Dec. 30 affirmed that pollution exclusion clauses in commercial general liability insurance policies relieve the insurers of duties to defend and indemnify the operators of a septic service company for contaminating a water well with nitrates by applying septage as a fertilizer on farmland (Tina L. Preisler, et al v. Kuettel's Septic Service, et al., No. 2012AP2521 [consolidated], Wis. Sup.; 2014 Wisc. LEXIS 955).
NEW YORK - An asbestos defendant knew of plaintiffs' alleged asbestos exposure from two bankrupt asbestos entities, and the failure to update interrogatory responses regarding claims against the trusts does not warrant reopening discovery, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Jan. 7 (David Konstantin v. 630 Third Avenue Associates, et al., No. 190134/10, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5624).
PHILADELPHIA - The Pennsylvania attorney general on Jan. 5 filed a brief in federal appeals court arguing that the Pennsylvania doctor who sued the state seeking to learn the chemicals in proprietary hydraulic fracturing fluids lacks standing to bring his lawsuit because he cannot demonstrate that he has suffered an injury or that his alleged injury is traceable to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania or the attorney general (Alfonso Rodriguez v. Secretary of Department of Environmental Protection, et al., No. 14-3467, 3rd Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - A judge's ruling excluding an expert's "every exposure" testimony just over a week before trial goes against science and Louisiana courts, plaintiffs told a federal judge in seeking expedited rehearing on Jan. 6 (Michael Comardelle v. Pennsylvania General Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-6555, E.D. La.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 624).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - Because water and mold damage to a home's roof and interior was not caused by a sudden and accidental occurrence pursuant to the terms of an insurance policy, no coverage is afforded for the insured's damages, the Fourth Department New York Supreme Court Appellate Division said Jan. 2 (Amber C. Blair and Mark C. Blair v. Allstate Indemnity Co., No. 14-01165, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 4th Dept.; 2015 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 16).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal judge in Ohio presiding over the lawsuit brought by a class of 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. 31 issued a conditional transfer order stating that 30 additional actions were being consolidated with the lead case (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - An energy company being sued for allegedly contaminating groundwater as a result of its operation of a coal generating plant on Jan. 5 filed a brief arguing that the case should be dismissed because the lawsuit is "a misuse" of the citizen suit power contained in the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S. Code Section 1251, et seq. (Yadkin Riverkeeper, et al. v. Duke Energy Carolinas LLC, No. 14-00753, M.D. N.C.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - While asbestos plaintiffs need not recite every single encounter with a defendant's products, a couple's evidence of a handful of exposures over a five-year period falls short, a Delaware judge held Dec. 31 (In re: Asbestos Litigation, James Muse and Clarice Roberts-Muse v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. N13C-06-232-ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
ST. LOUIS - The federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by Missouri residents alleging injuries caused by oil leaks from a 100-year-old pipeline currently being used to carry communications cable ruled Jan. 5 that the plaintiffs failed to show that they had been injured; therefore, they failed to overcome the defendant's motion for summary judgment dismissal (Glenn A. Henke, et al. v. Arco Midcon LLC, et al., No. 10-cv-00086, E.D. Mo.).
SPOKANE, Wash. - A federal judge in Washington on Dec. 31 refused to reconsider his decision denying Teck Cominco Metals Ltd.'s motion to strike allegations that its aerial emissions could be the basis for recovery of response costs and natural resource damages and certified the ruling for review by the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Joseph Pakootas, et al. v. Teck Cominco Metals Ltd., No. CV-04-256-LRS, E.D. Wash.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178964).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An asbestos plaintiff waived the only means of introducing untimely expert testimony in a strategic move designed to thwart summary judgment and cannot complain after it backfired, the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 30 (John M. Tyler and Doris Tyler v. Honeywell Inc., et al., No. 13-7185, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Dec. 31 remanded a ruling that had denied 100 percent benefits to a veteran exposed to Agent Orange and said evidence supporting the claim needed to be reviewed (Rotelia Anderson v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 13-3656, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2014 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 2142).
NORFOLK, Va. - A Virginia federal judge on Dec. 31 partially granted a motion filed by a group of military housing defendants in relation to claims that mold at rental military housing caused residents to suffer illness, ordering that the residents are required to produce various social media posts and to pay all of the costs of expert production of the material (Shelley Federico, et al. v. Lincoln Military Housing, et al., No. 2:12cv80, E.D. Va.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178943).
NEW BERN, N.C. - Environmental groups alleging that the previous and current owners of a swine farm violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) by illegally disposing of animal waste have the right to a jury trial to determine the defendants' liability for civil penalties, a federal judge in North Carolina held Dec. 29 (North Carolina Environmental Justice Network, et al. v. Donald Taylor, et al., No. 12-CV-154-D, E.D. N.C.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 177773).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on Dec. 31 reversed a board's decision to award a maintenance worker benefits, finding insufficient evidence to show that his respiratory issues were caused by occupational exposure to mold (Edward Connolly v. Covanta Energy Corp., et al., No. 518493, N.Y. Sup.; App. Div.; 3rd Dept.; 2014 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 8995).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Dec. 31 remanded for further examination a case in which a veteran was denied benefits for alleged exposure to Agent Orange, concluding that the Board of Veterans Appeals failed to ensure "substantial compliance" with a previous remand order when it conducted its medical examination of the veteran (Charlie T. Taylor v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 13-2983, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2014 U.S. App. Vet Claims LEXIS 2128).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A judge must instruct a jury on the intended-user doctrine and conduct a new trial absent "each and every" exposure to asbestos testimony, a divided en banc Pennsylvania appeals court held Dec. 23 in vacating a $14.5 million verdict and ordering a new trial (Darlene Nelson, executrix of the estate of James Nelson v. Airco Welders Supply, et al., Nos. 864 EDA 2011, 866 EDA 2011, 867 EDA 2011, Pa. Super.).
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Dec. 22 ruled that expert testimony under the "any exposure" causation theory for asbestos exposure was unsupported by case law and not sufficiently reliable to establish specific causation related to the plaintiff's injury and his negligence claims, granting in part several defendants' motions to exclude (Charles Krik v. Crane Co.; ExxonMobil Oil Corp.; Owens-Illinois Inc.; and The Marley-Wylain Co., No. 1:10-cv-70435, N.D. Ill.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175983).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The railroad companies being sued by New Jersey residents who contend that they were injured as result of exposure to vinyl chloride that was the result of a train derailment filed a brief on Dec. 22 in New Jersey federal court, arguing that the motions for voluntary dismissal filed by some plaintiffs should be vacated (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The Wyoming Supreme Court on Dec. 22 reversed part of a trial court's decision to award costs to a landlord in relation to a case filed by tenants who alleged that they were exposed to black mold, finding that the court lacked the authority to award costs for depositions (Todd Graus, et al. v. OK Investments Inc., et al., No. 14-0061, Wyo. Sup.; 2014 Wyo. LEXIS 190).
NEW YORK - A New York justice on Dec. 18 declined defendants' motion to renew, reargue or stay a ruling allowing punitive damages in New York City's asbestos litigation (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, No. 40000/88, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A law protecting Crown Cork & Seal Co. from asbestos-related liabilities could in theory apply to other companies and does the legitimate job of protecting the state's jobs, a Pennsylvania court held Dec. 22 in finding the law constitutional (James C. Markovsky, et al. v. Crown Cork & Seal Co., et al., No. 2755 EDA 2013, Pa. Super.).