GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on Jan. 3 granted the federal government's motion in limine to preclude a defendant company from arguing that allocations for natural resource damages in consent decrees between the government and parties that contributed to contamination at the Lower Fox River Superfund site were too high, holding that the company was over-reading the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act's section on double recovery (United States of America v. NCR Corporation, et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 257).
RICHMOND, Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia did not err when finding that a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit issued to a mining company did not shield it from liability for violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), a Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 4 (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Fola Coal Company, LLC, No. 16-1024, 4th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 108).
NEW YORK - A New York appellate panel on Jan. 3 affirmed the constitutionality of a ban on e-cigarettes or vaping devices in schools, restaurants and outdoor public spaces in New York City because the "one-subject rule" in the state's constitution does not apply to local laws (NYC CLASH v. City of New York, No. 152723/142014, N.Y. Sup., App. Div.; 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 41).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida appellate panel on Jan. 4 found that a trial court erred in not reducing the compensatory award by the comparative fault the jury found in an Engle progeny suit brought by a man whose wife died from lung cancer related to her smoking (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D13-3949, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 50).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A jury in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio on Jan. 5 awarded a man $10.5 million in punitive damages plus attorney fees against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for cancer he said he had developed as a result of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A federal magistrate judge in Delaware recommended granting four motions for summary judgment, saying Dec. 30 the plaintiffs, who had not responded, failed to show that exposure to the products in question were a substantial factor in the man's mesothelioma (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180138).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Submarines under construction are not vessels under maritime law, a federal judge in Delaware held Dec. 30 in finding that Connecticut law applies to the asbestos case (Ralph Elliott Shaw and Joan Sanderson Shaw v. Andritz Inc., et al., No. 15-725, D. Del. 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180137).
DENVER - A federal judge in Utah erred when awarding summary judgment against Asarco LLC on its claim for contribution under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against Noranda Mining Inc., a 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 3, holding that the plaintiff company did not make misrepresentations to a bankruptcy court when a company representative stated that $7.4 million was a fair share of its cleanup costs at Richardson Flat Superfund site in Utah (Asarco LLC v. Noranda Mining Inc., No. 16-4045, 10th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 11).
TAMPA, Fla. - Evidence that a company complied with the U.S. Navy's precise specifications for products it ordered from private contractors keeps an asbestos case in federal court, a federal judge in Florida held Dec. 27 (Marc Killam v. Air & Liquid Systems Inc., et al., No. 16-2915, M.D. Fla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 178637).
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey appellate panel on Dec. 29 affirmed a chancery court judge's decision to dismiss a company's declaratory judgment suit against the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP), finding that the plaintiff company is required to comply with the requirements of the Site Remediation Reform Act (SRRA) (Drytech Inc. v. State of New Jersey, Department of Environmental Protection, No. A-5619-14T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2750).
RUTLAND, Vt. - A federal judge in Vermont on Dec. 28 denied a motion to dismiss a groundwater contamination lawsuit against a plastics manufacturer, ruling that a dispute over the state's groundwater contamination standards was not "essential" to the case (James D. Sullivan, et al. v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, No. 16-125, D. Vt.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 180405).
SOUTH BEND, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Dec. 22 denied a couple's motion for sanctions against a company for allegedly making false statements and denying the existence of evidence as part of a groundwater contamination lawsuit, concluding that "the motion is not well-taken" (Amos Hostetler, et al. v. Johnson Controls Inc., No. 15-226, N.D. Ind.).
MADISON, Wis. - A judge erred both in rejecting a motion to amend or add findings to a ruling and in the original order granting judgment to an asbestos-insulation manufacturer after a bench trial, a woman claims in Dec. 19 filing with the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Gary Souja, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-4177, 7th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Chevron Corp., which is being sued by Nigerian residents who contend that they have been injured as a result of an oil rig explosion, on Dec. 20 filed a brief in California federal court, arguing that the plaintiffs' motion to add photographs into evidence and file them under seal should be denied because they have not shown good cause to supplement the record (Natto Iyela Gbarabe v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).
DETROIT - Michigan residents who have sued Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and other state officials for the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., filed a brief on Dec. 21, arguing that the former director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) "cannot seek refuge behind a shield of immunity" (Luke Waid, et al. v. Gov. Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A jury in Ohio on Dec. 21 awarded $2 million to a man who had sued E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. seeking damages for cancer he said he had developed as a result of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation on Dec. 21 transferred another glyphosate injury lawsuit to the multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, adding another case in which the plaintiff alleges that his exposure to the Roundup herbicide caused him to develop non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
TRENTON, N.J. - A federal judge in New Jersey on Dec. 20 refused to reconsider his previous ruling that dismissed the New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) from a lawsuit brought by environmental groups who had contended that the authority and the New Jersey Department of Transportation (NJDOT) were liable for discharging chemicals into the groundwater (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Volkswagen AG on Dec. 20 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Environmental Protection agency and state of California in which it will pay $225 million on environmental projects designed to reduce emissions of nitrogen oxide and recall 83,000 3.0-liter diesel vehicles manufactured from 2009 through 2016 that were equipped with defeat devices to cheat emissions tests to resolve allegations in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and California state law, according to a consent decree filed in California federal court (In re: Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2672, Case No. 15-md-2672, N.D. Calif.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A group of oil refining and gasoline companies on Dec. 15 filed a joint brief in Rhode Island federal court contending that the state's lawsuit alleging that the companies are liable for contaminating the state's groundwater with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) should be dismissed because the state "insufficiently alleges" standing and "fails to allege the causation required" for its claims (State of Rhode Island v. Alon Refining Krotz Springs, No. 16-495, D. R.I.).
NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator provided a sufficient explanation for its denial of a rulemaking petition filed by environmental groups seeking standards for the amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen that can be discharged into the Mississippi River and waterways leading into the river, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled Dec. 15 (Gulf Restoration Network v. Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 12-677, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173459).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform on Dec. 16 concluded its investigation into the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., and recommended that the House Committee on Appropriations reconsider allocating more than $279.8 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for work on climate change so that money could be used to upgrade the nation's drinking water systems to protect people from lead.
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Dec. 20 charged four people with felonies in connection with the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., saying all four were liable for conspiracy to commit false pretenses and two were guilty of committing misconduct and willful neglect of duty in office.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Because the state's workers' compensation system contemplates coverage for mesothelioma, the law's exclusivity provision bars a tort action against an employer, even where the disease arose outside the period for filing a claim, the Arkansas Supreme Court held Dec. 15 in a 4-3 opinion (Brenda Hendrix, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., No. CV-15-558, Ark. Sup.).
DETROIT - A divided panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 16 affirmed a lower court's ruling that the State of Michigan must provide bottled water to all homes in Flint without a properly functioning water filter, denying the appeal of the defendants, who contended that the relief ordered by the court was "overly broad" (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick Khouri, et al., No. 16-2628, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22386).