PORTLAND, Maine - The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on May 6 overturned a trial court's judgment in a lead exposure lawsuit and remanded the action for a new trial based on the trial court's error in excluding plaintiff expert testimony, in jury instructions on proximate cause and liability and in dismissing claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress and the related punitive damages (Paula Bratton, et al. v. Halsey McDonough, No. Som-12-400, Maine Sup.; 2014 ME LEXIS 70).
NEW ORLEANS - A unanimous Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 7 that an Eastern District of Texas judge lacked jurisdiction over an assignment of rights dispute among natural gas well operating companies because a nondiverse intervenor destroyed subject-matter jurisdiction; the panel vacated a summary judgment order and remanded the lawsuit with instructions to determine if the intervenor is an indispensable party (Chesapeake Louisiana v. Buffco Production Inc., et al., No. 13-40458, 5th Cir.).
NEW YORK - Chevron Corp. and Patton Boggs announced a settlement May 7 in an unjust enrichment lawsuit Patton Boggs filed in connection with Chevron's U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York lawsuit to prevent enforcement of the $18 billion Lago Agrio, Ecuador, judgment for personal injuries and environmental contamination; the presiding judge granted Chevron's motion to file counterclaims March 31 and dismissed Patton Boggs' claims April 29 (Patton Boggs v. Chevron Corp., No. 12-9176, S.D. N.Y.).
PASADENA, Calif. - Facts casting doubt on an expert witness' credibility and contested facts about a scientific method's strengths are questions reserved for the fact finder and not grounds for excluding the expert, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held May 2 in reversing exclusion of testimony that identified the source of a city's perchlorate water contamination using stable isotope analysis (City of Pomona v. SQM North America Corp., Nos. 12-55147, 12-55193, 9th Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8308).
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 2 affirmed a federal court's finding that the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) on Sept. 11, 2001, constituted an act of war, allowing the defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit to raise the defense against claims seeking reimbursement for cleanup costs of toxic dust (In Re: September 11 Litigation: Cedar & Washington Associates, LLC v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, et al., No. 10-4197, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8293).
LAKE CHARLES, La. - A unanimous Third Circuit Louisiana Court of Appeal panel on May 7 affirmed summary judgment against surface estate owners seeking damages from oil and natural gas operators for allegedly failing to restore the surface estate; the panel applied the subsequent purchaser doctrine and concluded that the plaintiffs lack standing to seek damages for alleged injuries before they purchased the subject land (Carlos Boone, et uxor v. ConocoPhillips Co., et al., No. 13-1106, La. App., 3rd Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - A unanimous Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel vacated an order denying attorney-client privilege protection to a memorandum created by in-house counsel for Exxon Mobil Corp. in a long-simmering discovery dispute arising from personal injury litigation for alleged exposure to naturally occurring radioactive material in the scale on oil field pipe; the order remanding the injunctive relief action to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana was entered May 6 (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Clarence Hill, et al., No. 13-30830, 5th Cir.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A last-minute settlement offer by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (RJR) in a smoking wrongful death case was made in bad faith, and the company is therefore not entitled to $41,860 in attorney fees, the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 6, affirming holdings of a magistrate judge and a trial judge (Oliver Pickett Jr., as Personal Representative of the Estate of Oliver Pickett Sr. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 13-13212, 11th Cir.).
ST. LOUIS - Missouri has successfully challenged an arbitrator's penalty under the tobacco Master Settlement Agreement (MSA), potentially winning back $50 million in a May 2 state court decision (State of Missouri, ex rel. Jeremiah W. [Jay] Nixon v. The American Tobacco Company, et al., No.22972-01465, Mo. Cir., 22nd Judicial Cir.).
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - After tenants who alleged that mold in their rental property made them ill failed to respond to repeated requests for discovery and court orders, a Tennessee federal magistrate judge on April 30 recommended that their landlord's request for fees be granted (Shiela Lilly Davis, et al. v. Harun Rashid, No. 3:12-0224, M.D. Tenn.; 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 104193).
NEWARK, N.J. - A woman's action alleging asbestos exposure from Union Carbide Corp. floor tiles came more than four years after her husband's death, long past the two-year limit for such actions, a New Jersey federal judge held April 30 (Rosilynd Hillary Gensler v. Union Carbide Corp., No. 13-5244, D. N.J.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59688).
ADELAIDE, South Australia - An Australian judge on April 29 found that a corporation should pay the costs of a former boilermaker and foreman's mesothelioma compensation case, finding that the case was complicated and that he was entitled to the costs of the entire proceeding (Geyer v. Resi Corp., No. $(2014$) SADC 64, South Australia Dist.).
BOSTON - A unanimous Massachusetts Appeals Court panel affirmed a defense judgment on May 1 for the manufacturer of a floor-refinishing machine accused of causing neurological and physical injuries to a plaintiff alleging exposure to fumes and chemicals from the machine (Ana Maria Ronca v. The Sherwin-Williams Co., No. 13-581, Mass. App.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A manufacturer's failure to eliminate potential exposure to asbestos at all relevant times failed to shift the burden and requires reversal of summary judgment in its favor, a California appeals court held April 29 (Donald Fields v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. A136572, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
DALLAS - The Texas Supreme Court will not review reversal of a $9 million verdict against premises owner Dow Chemical Co. for work its employees conducted at the same time as a contractor, according to a May 2 docket entry (Magdalena Adrienna Abutahoun, et al. v. The Dow Chemical Co., No. 13-0175, Texas Sup.).
ST. PAUL, Minn. - The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled April 30 in an opinion of first impression that an attorney disqualified for professional misconduct has legal standing to challenge the disqualification order and that a party seeking disqualification may waive the right to seek disqualification; the underlying case involves the State of Minnesota seeking to recover from 3M Co. for natural resources damages caused by the disposal of wastes from a perfluorochemical refinery (Minnesota v. Covington & Burling, No. 12-1856 [consolidated], Minn. Sup.).
MONROE, La. - International Paper Co. was granted in part a motion in limine April 28 to exclude opinions of the air modeling expert retained by the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana to recover for the alleged exposure to chemicals from a shuttered paper mill near Monroe (Donald Sadler, et al. v. International Paper Co., 09-1254, W.D. La.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58422).
WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. - Lycoming County, Pa., property owners seeking a declaratory judgment against a natural gas extraction company in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania were granted summary judgment April 30; the judge concluded that the oil and natural gas lease expired under its own terms because the extraction activity occurred on an adjacent property in violation of the unambiguous lease (Thomas A. Neuhard, et uxor v. Range Resources-Appalachia, No. 11-1989, M.D. Pa.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59602).
CHARLESTON, W. Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on April 30 denied without prejudice a motion for partial summary judgment filed by environmental groups over Consol of Kentucky Inc.'s discharges of selenium, ruling that their requests for declaratory and injunctive relief and civil penalties were premature (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Consol of Kentucky Inc., No. 13-5005, S.D. W. Va.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59741).
NEW YORK - New York City asbestos defendants on April 28 asked a state court to stay an order ending deferral of punitive damages, saying the order should operate prospectively. In an April 30 letter, the plaintiffs challenged the defendants' request as "replete with misconceptions and wholly inaccurate factual and legal generalizations" (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, Nos. 190293/11, 190311/11, 190294/11, 190262/11, 190215/11, 190299/11, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Compensation for future medical expenses, court-ordered medical monitoring and relocation from allegedly polluted properties is not justified by the evidence, the Texas federal judge sentencing CITGO Petroleum Corp. for criminal pollution violations said in an April 30 sentencing memorandum (United States v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., et al., No. CR-06-563, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60172).
NEW ORLEANS - A divided Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals denied a motion April 28 for rehearing en banc filed by Iraq War contractors to review an order from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas denying dismissal of the lawsuit filed by National Guard members alleging exposure to hexavalent chromium at an oil extraction site in Iraq; the trial court declined to dismiss the claims for lack of jurisdiction under the political question doctrine and the combat activities exception in the Federal Tort Claims Act in August 2012 (Mark McManaway, et al. v. KBR Inc., et al., No. 12-20763, 5th Cir.).
BALTIMORE - Remand strips a federal judge of jurisdiction over all portions of an asbestos case and prohibits sanctions for allegedly improper conduct in obtaining the remand, a divided Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Apeals panel held April 30 (Joyce Barlow v. Colgate-Palmolive Co. and John Crane-Houdille Inc., et al., Clara Mosko v. Colgate-Palmolive Co. and John Crane-Houdaille Inc., et al., No. 13-1839, 4th Cir.).
NEW YORK - The motion filed by Chevron Corp. in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York for $32,334,584 in attorney fees for prevailing in its lawsuit to prevent the enforcement of the $9.5 billion compensatory damages award for contamination of the Oriente region of Ecuador was deferred April 29 by the presiding judge pending a decision in the appeal of the injunctive relief granted in March under theories of fraud and violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (Chevron Corp. v. Steven R. Donziger, et al., No. 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).
MOUNT VERNON, Ill. - A $10.1 billion consumer fraud verdict stemming from Philip Morris USA Inc.'s marketing of "light" cigarettes was reinstated April 29 by Illinois' Fifth District Appellate Court (Sharon Price, et al. v. Philip Morris Inc., No. 5-13-0017, Ill. App., 5th Dist.).