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).
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on Sept. 5 refused to exercise admiralty jurisdiction over general maritime claims brought by a commercial clam digger over an October 2010 jet fuel spill that reached the Boston Harbor, ruling that the defendants' actions did not have a substantial relationship with maritime activity (John Denehy v. Massachusetts Port Authority, et al., No. 13-12473-WGY, D. Mass.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 124627).
NEW ORLEANS - BP Exploration and Production Inc. on Sept. 8 moved in Louisiana federal court, arguing that claims administrator Patrick Juneau should be removed because he previously worked as an advocate on behalf of the State of Louisiana regarding the handling of claims and payout of funds from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility after the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
DALLAS - A Texas jury on Sept. 5 awarded $15 million in punitive damages and $3.6 million in other damages to the family of a tire builder who suffered exposure to asbestos during employment with a The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. subsidiary, sources told Mealey Publications (Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al. v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 10-03294-E, Texas Law, Dallas Co.).
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal magistrate judge on Sept. 3 found that a tenant's claims against her landlord for violation of the Fair Housing Amendments Act of 1988 (FHAA) and other claims in relation to mold contamination at her rental property failed and that the action should be dismissed (Carlotta Ogundimo, et al. v. Steadfast Property & Development, Inc., No. 1:14-cv-00324, E.D. Calif.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123552).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation concerning alleged groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on Sept. 3 refused to declassify documents from two research institutions regarding a study investigating the carcinogenic potential of the chemical, finding that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) failed to comply with the terms of two protective orders (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, Case No. 00-1898, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Atlantic Richfield Inc., No. 08 Civ. 312, S.D. N.Y.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 123061).
PORTLAND, Maine - The federal government on Sept. 5 in Maine federal court moved for approval of a settlement with ConAgra Grocery Products Co. in which the company would pay $5.7 million to reimburse the government for response costs it incurred in remediating the A.C. Lawrence Leather Company Sludge Lagoons Superfund site (United States of America v. ConAgra Grocery Products Company, No. 11-cv-00455, D. Maine).
CLEVELAND - A counsel's inadvertently disclosed analysis of asbestos actions against a company may contain attorney-client privileged information, but it also contains relevant evidence requiring disclosure, an Ohio appeals court affirmed Sept. 4 (Betty Tucker, et al. v. CompuDyne Corp., et al., No. 100554, Ohio App., 8th Dist.; 2014 Ohio App. LEXIS 3739).
PHILADELPHIA - The judge overseeing the federal maritime asbestos multidistrict litigation on Sept. 4 granted the first of what sources told Mealey Publications are 1,300 pending "no evidence" motions for summary judgment (Willard Bartel, et al. v. A-C Product Liability Trust, et al., No. MDL 875, 10-37528, E.D. Pa.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Sept. 4 dismissed Competitive Intelligence Enterprise's claim that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency violated the Federal Records Act (FRA) by deleting text messages sent to and from cell phones issued to its administrator and assistant administrator, holding that the statute does not provide the group with a private right of action (Competitive Enterprise Institute v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No 13-1532, D. D.C.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122907).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation arising from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and subsequent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010 imposed sanctions against Halliburton Energy Services Inc. on Sept. 4 after finding that its destruction of 3D computer simulations of how cement channeling could be used to stop oil from flowing out of the Macondo well was intentional and done in bad faith (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - Question remain regarding a man's potential asbestos exposure from Honeywell International Inc. valves, a New York justice held in denying summary judgment in an opinion posted Sept. 2 (Mary Murray, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190554/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW YORK - A boiler company is not entitled to summary judgment while questions remain over whether it recommended or supplied asbestos-containing, third-party parts, a New York justice held in an opinion posted Sept. 2 (Richard Fallon v. Fulton Boiler Works Inc., et al., No. 190156/13, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2014 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 3908).
WHEELING, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on Sept. 4 ruled that a hydraulic fracturing company could file under seal a map showing the locations of gas storage fields that are the subject of a lease dispute because the map constitutes "critical energy infrastructure information" (K&D Holdings LLC v. EQT Corp., No. 13-00152, N.D. W.Va.).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 3 overturned a federal judge in Alaska's summary judgment award to the owner and operator of a coal loading facility after finding that the defendants' general National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit does not shield it from liability over discharges of coal into Resurrection Bay (Alaska Community Action on Toxics, et al. v. Aurora Energy Services LLC, et al., No. 13-35709, 9th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico issued his findings of fact and conclusions of law with regard to Phase One of the trial on Sept. 4 and ruled that the discharge of oil from the Macondo well was the result of BP Exploration & Production Inc.'s gross negligence and willful misconduct (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, April 20, 2010, MDL No. 2179, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - A New York justice affirmed most aspects of a $6 million asbestos verdict in an opinion filed Sept. 2, ordering a new trial on the loss-of-consortium claim only if the plaintiff refused to stipulate to a reduction to $340,000 of the $2 million award (Mary Anne McCloskey, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190441-12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW YORK - A premises owner's general inspections for safety and quality control do not evince the type of control required for liability under New York labor law, a New York justice held in wiping out a $3.5 million asbestos award in an opinion posted Sept. 2 (Phyllis Brown, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190415/12, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Manufacturers present at a man's deposition did not share the required similar motives or predecessor-in-interest status with an employer embroiled in a workers' compensation case involving asbestos exposure, a divided Ohio Supreme Court held Sept. 3 in excluding the testimony (Mary Lou Burkhart v. H.J. Heinz Co., et al., No. 2013-0580, Ohio Sup.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Plaintiffs adequately allege that talc companies and their attorneys concealed, lied about and destroyed evidence of asbestos contamination and may pursue fraud and fraudulent concealment claims, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Sept. 3 in partially reversing dismissal of the action (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 13-1089, 3rd Cir.).
WHEELING, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on Sept. 2 dismissed a couple's lawsuit against energy companies they had contended contaminated their drinking well as a result of hydraulic fracturing operations, concluding that the couple did not meet their burden of proof of showing that there were material issues in dispute (Jeremiah N. Magers, et al. v. Chesapeake Appalachia LLC, et al., No. 12-49, N.D. W.Va.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121838).
CLEVELAND - An Ohio federal judge on Sept. 2 denied a motion filed by Whirlpool Corp. to decertify a class of purchasers of certain front-loading washing machines that allegedly develop mold and granted a motion by the claimants to modify the class (In re: Whirlpool Corp. Front-Loading Washer Products Liability Litigation, No. 1:08-WP-65000, N.D. Ohio).
WACO, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on Aug. 29 ordered Sierra Club to pay $6.4 million in attorney fees and expert costs to two companies it accused of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA), ruling that the group's suit was frivolous (Sierra Club v. Energy Future Holdings Corp., et al., No. 12-cv-00108, W.D. Texas).
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Supreme Court on Sept. 2 deferred to the Indiana Department of Environmental Management's (IDEM) interpretation of the phrase "chemical process plant" when deciding that ethanol processing plants are not "major emitting facilities" that are subject to a stricter level of emissions controls, explaining that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Ethanol Rule gave the state agency the latitude to make that decision (Natural Resources Defense Council v. POET Biorefining - North Manchester LLC, et al., No. 49S02-1405-MI-313, Ind. Sup.; 2014 Ind. LEXIS 659).