CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Professional rules have equal force of law as statutes enacted by the legislature and bar an attorney from sharing asbestos litigation fees with a non-attorney, West Virginia's top court held April 10 in answering a certified question (Gary W. Rich and the Law Office of Gary W. Rich v. Joseph Simoni, et al., No. 14-0998, W.Va. Sup. App.; 2015 W. Va. LEXIS 257).
SALT LAKE CITY - While "thin," sufficient evidence exists of a man's exposure to asbestos from a defendant's product and his resulting disease's role in his death, a federal judge held April 9 (Karyn F. Maag v. Eaton Corp., et al., No. 10-905, D. Utah; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46623).
NEW YORK - Former New York Speaker Sheldon Silver lost his bid to have the government's fraud and conspiracy case against him dismissed April 10, but the federal judge criticized the prosecutor's "brinkmanship," saying it strayed so close to the edge of ethical rules that it risked falling over the edge into prejudice (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 15-93, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 47194).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A Delaware federal bankruptcy judge on April 8 confirmed a reorganization plan for Chapter 11 debtor Yarway Corp. that establishes a $325 million trust to process and pay thousands of asbestos injury and wrongful death claims (In re: Yarway Corporation, No. 13-11025, D. Del. Bkcy.).
LOS ANGELES - A mechanic who operates an aviation museum is not qualified to testify as an expert in an asbestos case alleging exposure as an electrician, and absent that testimony, the case falls short against four defendants, a federal judge in California held in an opinion entered April 7 (Patricia Ann Livingston, et al. v. ABB Inc., et al., No. 12-1220, C.D. Calif.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Though a widow served both an amended asbestos complaint and her expert report late, the missed deadlines do not warrant dismissal or striking the expert, a federal judge in New Jersey held April 9 (Claire Thomasson, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 13-1034, D. N.J.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 46386).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A hydraulic fracturing company sued by Pennsylvania residents who contend that the company is liable for contaminating their groundwater on April 8 moved in Pennsylvania federal court for permission to file an amended answer to the complaint, contending that circumstances in the case have "changed greatly" since the company filed its answer to the original complaint more than four years ago (Nolen Scott Ely v. Hon. Martin C. Carlson Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation, et al., No. 09-2284, M.D. Pa.).
CHARLESTON, W. Va. - The federal judge in West Virginia presiding over a personal injury lawsuit brought by a group of residents who contend that a water company is responsible for the spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol into the Elk River near Charleston on April 9 ruled that the plaintiffs had established a prima facie case for liability (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1347, S.D. W.Va.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on April 8 ruled that the Board of Veterans Appeals instructions given to a doctor who examined a veteran and determined that his cancer had not been caused by exposure to Agent Orange were "inartfully worded" but did not constitute prejudicial error (Lena M. Allen v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 14-0222, Vet. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 435).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The plaintiffs who sued railroad company defendants alleging personal injury from vinyl chloride that was spilled as a result of a train derailment filed a brief on April 6 in New Jersey federal court arguing that the defendants' motion for partial summary judgment should be denied because there is no preemption of the residents' core claims (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
DES MOINES, Iowa - After finding that a teacher's lung injury was caused by exposure to mold in the building where she worked, the Iowa Court of Appeals on April 8 affirmed a decision awarding her compensation for an occupational injury (United Heartland Inc., et al. v. Kathleen Brown, No. 14-1070, Iowa App.; 2015 Iowa App. LEXIS 321).
TRENTON, N.J. - After finding that tenants failed to show that alleged mold growth in their apartment prevented their landlord from increasing their rent, a New Jersey appeals court on April 8 affirmed a decision allowing the landlord to evict them (Georgian Gardens v. Russell and Vanessa Shields, No. A-3598-13T3, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 761).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on April 8 denied Foal Coal Co. LLC's motion to seek interlocutory appeal of three rulings entered against it in a lawsuit brought by three environmental groups accusing the company of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), finding that decisions are not appropriate for immediate review by the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Inc., et al. v. Fola Coal Company LLC, No. 13-5006, S.D. W.Va.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45647).
LOS ANGELES - Crane Co. and a couple alleging asbestos exposure on March 6 filed response briefs in a California federal court, opposing motions seeking the exclusion of expert testimony that "each and every exposure" significantly contributes to disease and an order in a recent bankruptcy case (Howard Utech, an individual, Joann Utech, an individual v. Asbestos Corporation Limited, et al., No. 14-4977, C.D. Calif.).
FRESNO, Calif. - In light of a prior order limiting the scope of a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit to a single well adjoining the plaintiffs' property, a California federal magistrate judge on April 6 denied a motion to compel discovery requests for a water utility's operations beyond that well (Viola Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 1:11-cv-01257, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 45164).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on April 6 denied the Environmental Protection Agency administrator's motion to transfer a lawsuit brought by two environmental groups claiming that the agency failed to comply with certain duties required by the Clean Air Act (CAA), ruling that moving the suit to a court in one of the 15 affected districts would not advance the public interest of the remaining 14 (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Gina McCarthy, et al., No. 14-cv-05138-WHO, N.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44853).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI), which was sued by Oklahoma residents who contend that they were injured from exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant it operates, on April 6 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court contending that the plaintiffs' motion for reconsideration of an order denying class certification is "unavailing" (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 7 reversed a federal judge in Louisiana's decision to order the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to make a necessity determination to evaluate whether a standard should be enacted to limit levels of nitrogen and phosphorus discharged into the Gulf of Mexico, ruling that the agency had the option of refusing to make the determination when denying a petition by environmental groups (Gulf Restoration Network, et al. v. Gina McCarthy, et al., No. 13-31214, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5602).
TOPEKA, Kan. - A Kansas state appeals panel on April 3 denied an interlocutory appeal challenging a temporary injunction against two junior water rights holders in a groundwater dispute (Garetson Brothers, et al. v. American Warrior, Inc., et al., No. 111,975, Kan. App.; 2015 Kan. App. LEXIS 23).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The man who sued a former maker of lead-based paint contending that it was liable for his injuries caused by ingesting lead-based paint filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court on April 6 arguing that there is no split between the opinion issued in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and "any other court" relating to the "Wisconsin Rule" of risk contribution; therefore, the Supreme Court does not need to hear the case (American Cyanamid Company v. Ernest Gibson, No. 14-0849, U.S. Sup.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Alabama on April 1 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss the federal government's claim that an industrial park was subject to owner liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) because a slag pile on the property does not satisfy the statutory definition of a facility (United States of America v. Gadsden Industrial Park LLC, No. 14-cv-00992-KOB, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 42599).
BALTIMORE - The remaining design defect claims in an asbestos case do not apply to a seller of raw asbestos, a company told a federal judge March 27 after successfully opposing remand (Melvin F. Sherin, et al. v. John Crane-Houdaille Inc., et al., No. 11-3698, D. Md.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 130702).
SAN FRANCISCO - Two experts' opinion that every asbestos fiber exposure substantially contributes to disease meets neither federal expert reliability standards nor California law on causation, an asbestos defendant told a federal judge in California on April 3 (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal magistrate judge in California on April 3 ruled that a California couple failed to plead facts sufficient show that a landlord of a shopping center was negligent or engaged in some ultrahazardous activity on which potential strict liability could be premised with respect to chemical contamination of the couple's groundwater (Anna Lance, et al. v. Commerce Trust Company, No. 15-0341, E.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44321).
SAN FRANCISCO - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 2 overturned a California federal judge's ruling ordering a defendant in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit to pay half of the future response costs the plaintiff company incurs in remediating dense nonaqueous phase liquid tetrachloroethene (DNAPL PCE) contamination at a former dry cleaning site, holding that the judge erred when calculating how much the defendant company should pay (AmeriPride Services Inc. v. Texas Eastern Overseas Inc., No. 12-17245, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 5308).