RALEIGH, N.C. - The Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) preempts a widow's claims that her husband developed mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos in a defendant's locomotive brakes, a federal judge in North Carolina held May 1 (Brenda Ricks, et al. v. Armstrong International Inc., et al., No. 14-37, E.D. N.C.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58054).
NEW YORK - A New York justice divided eight cases into three consolidated trial groups, saying in an opinion posted May 5 that shared attorneys and disease trump differences in places or time periods of exposure (George R. Birrell and Ramona J. Birrell, et al. v. Aerco International Inc., et al., No. 190105/2013, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2015 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1471).
LINCOLN, Neb. - A Nebraska federal judge on May 4 issued a ruling partially granting motions for summary judgment filed by a third-party contractor in relation to alleged construction defects in a heating, ventilation and air conditioning system (HVAC) that was installed at a monastery, which allegedly caused mold growth throughout the building (Missionary Benedictine Sisters Inc. v. Hoffman LLC, et al., No. 4:11CV3180, D. Neb.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58101).
FRESNO, Calif. - A former operator of a commercial laundry business sued a California city on May 5, arguing that the defendant is liable for cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act because its failure to maintain its sewer system contributed to soil, groundwater and vapor contamination on the plaintiff's property (Mission Linen Supply Co. v. City of Visalia, et al., No. 15-cv-00672, E.D. Calif.).
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A federal judge in Tennessee on April 30 dismissed a lawsuit by a resident who contended that he had been exposed to hazardous chemicals as a result of an ash spill at a plant operated by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) (James Ryan v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 14-356, E.D. Tenn.).
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation regarding groundwater allegedly contaminated by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on April 28 partially granted and partially denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants, ruling that some defendants were entitled to dismissal based on lack of evidence, but one was liable for selling gasoline that resulted in contamination (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, No. 00-1898, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico v. Shell Oil Co., et al., No. 07 Civ. 10470, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55535).
SALT LAKE CITY - A federal magistrate judge in Utah on April 28 denied a motion to quash a subpoena for a deposition filed by a former senior officer at Atlantic Richfield Co., finding that the woman may have relevant information about operations the company conducted at a site that is subject of a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit (Asarco LLC v. Noranda Mining Inc., No. 12-cv-00527, D. Utah; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 55650).
LOS ANGELES - A California jury on April 28 awarded a couple more than $13 million in a mesothelioma case alleging asbestos exposure from tainted talc. It is the first asbestos-tainted talcum powder verdict against Colgate-Palmolive Co., sources told Mealey Publications (Judith and John Winkel v. Calavaras Asbestos Ltd., et al., No. BC549253, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
MILWAUKEE - Conflicting evidence about whether a company's asbestos-containing insulation appeared only in new construction or also for maintenance and repair purposes creates issues of fact about whether the state's statute of repose applies, a Wisconsin appeals court held April 28 in reversing summary judgment (Rodnette Sorenson, et al. v. Building Service Industrial Sales Inc., Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., Oakfabco Inc., and Trane US Inc., Local 19 & 27 Health & Welfare Fund, No. 2014AP964, Wis. App., Dist. I; 2015 Wisc. App. LEXIS 308).
TAMPA, Fla. - Federal pleading standards and not Florida's more strict ones apply to an asbestos action, and plaintiffs largely adequately plead negligence, strict liability and fraudulent concealment claims against safety mask and airplane parts defendants, a federal Florida judge ruled April 27 (Darryl S. Dugas and Marsha Dugas v. 3M Co., et al., No. 14-39, M.D. Fla.).
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 23 in federal court in New Jersey, contending that although they have provided expert reports to the defendants, no expert testimony is required to establish a prima facie case (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases, No. 13-784, D. N.J.).
SEATTLE - A 2-1 panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 27 overturned a federal judge in Washington's ruling remanding a groundwater contamination suit against The Boeing Co. and a company it hired to investigate and remediate contamination at the site, finding that the plaintiffs' lawsuit did not fall within the single local event exception to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) (Jocelyn Allen, et al. v. The Boeing Company, et al., No. 15-13562, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 6868).
LOS ANGELES - An insurer has no duty to defend its insureds against underlying environmental contamination claims arising out of their operation of a dry cleaning business because the policy's chemical discharge exclusion clearly bars coverage, a California federal judge said April 23 (Hollyway Cleaners & Laundry Co., et al. v. Central National Insurance Company of Omaha Inc., No. 13-7497, C.D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54080).
ST. LOUIS - MI Holdings Inc., which was sued by a Missouri resident who contends that he suffered personal injuries as a result of exposure to radioactive material related to the Manhattan Engineering Project near the St. Louis Airport, on April 22 filed a brief in Missouri federal court contending that the resident's deadline for the production of material in discovery is "unreasonable" (Scott D. McClurg, et al. v. MI Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-361 [consolidated], E.D. Mo.).
TRENTON, N.J. - Raritan Baykeeper Inc. and Edison Wetlands Association Inc. on April 24 agreed to dismiss their claim accusing the New Jersey Department of Transportation (N.J. DOT) of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) at a site in Sayreville, N.J., after finding that the agency did not violate the terms of its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for discharges of storm water (Raritan Baykeeper v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on April 24 affirmed a ruling that denied benefits to a veteran who contended that his throat cancer and other ailments were caused by exposure to Agent Orange. The judge concluded that the veteran did not provide sufficient evidence for his claims (James E. Hughes v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 14-1521, Vet. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 504).
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 21 granted a joint stipulation to remand a coverage dispute involving damages from a well blowout to Texas federal court to allow the parties to finalize a settlement agreement (Eagle Oil & Gas Co. v. Travelers Property Casualty Company of America, No. 15-10012, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on April 23 partially affirmed and partially vacated and remanded a ruling that denied a military veteran's claim for benefits based on injuries he alleged were caused by exposure to Agent Orange (Robert H. Gray v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 13-3339, U.S. App., Fed. Clms.; 2015 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 500).
BEAUMONT, Texas - A judge improperly found that hotly contested evidence in an asbestos case could not support a jury's finding for a premises owner, a Texas appeals court held April 23 (In re: E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., No. 09-14-00465-CV, Texas App., 9th Dist.; 2015 Tex. App. LEXIS 4072).
SEATTLE - A Washington jury on April 21 awarded a woman $3.6 million and held an insulation company liable for her exposure to asbestos while laundering her husband's work clothing (Estate of Barbara Brandes v. Brand Insulation Inc., No. 14-2-21662-9 SEA, Wash. Super., King Co.).
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - The federal government and ExxonMobil Pipeline Co., which have been embroiled in a lawsuit over liability for an oil spill that was the result of a pipeline rupture, on April 22 reached an agreement under which the company will pay a total of $4.47 million in civil penalties (United States of America, et al. v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, No. 14-00355, E.D. Ark.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87556).
DENVER - Noble Energy Inc. on April 22 entered into a consent decree with the federal government and State of Colorado in which it agreed to pay $73 million to resolve allegations that volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions from its oil and gas exploration and production activities in Denver were in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and Colorado Air Pollution Prevention and Control Act (United States of America, et al. v. Noble Energy Inc., No. 15-cv-0841, D. Colo.).
CAMDEN, N.J. - The railroad company defendants sued by a New Jersey school district and borough for $5,865,339 in damages for a chemical spill that was the result of a train derailment on April 20 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court, contending that the plaintiffs' allegations are based on a report from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) that is "improper and inadmissible" (Paulsboro Public Schools, et al. v. Consolidated Rail Corporation, et al., No.14-07431, D. N.J.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - After finding that all mold-related claims asserted against a contractor and others in an underlying state court case were excluded under an insurance policy, an Alabama federal judge on April 21 found that an insurer has no duty to defend the parties in the case (Pennsylvania National Mutual Casualty Insurance Co. v. The Retirement Systems of Alabama, et al., No. 14-248, N.D. Ala.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 52055).
OKLAHOMA CITY - The federal judge presiding over a lawsuit brought by Oklahoma residents who contend that they were injured from exposure to radioactive waste from a chemical plant operated by Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on April 21 denied the residents' motion to reconsider her denial of class certification (Mitchell L. McCormick v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-01272, W.D. Okla.).