SAN DIEGO - The family of former professional baseball player Tony Gwynn filed suit in California state court on May 23, claiming that smokeless tobacco led to the salivary gland cancer that caused his death (Alicia Gwynn et al. v. Altria Group Inc., et al., No. 37-2016-00017104, Calif. Super., San Diego Co.).
NEW YORK - A federal appeals panel on May 19 ruled that a New York federal judge did not err in dismissing New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) claims brought by a cancer victim who was fired by a medical center when she exhausted her leave of absence under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) (Mirelle Vangas, et al. v. Montefiore Medical Center, et al., Nos. 15-1514, 15-1562, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9124).
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Supreme Court on May 19 said that if defendants do not have a "caretaking or custodial relationship" with a decedent, the surviving family members cannot "adequately allege neglect under the Elder Abuse Act" of California (Kathleen A. Winn, et al. v. Pioneer Medical Group Inc., et al., No. S211793, Calif. Sup.; 2016 Cal. LEXIS 3432).
DETROIT - The former city administrator for Flint, Mich., on May 9 sued the city and its mayor, alleging that she was wrongfully terminated when she exposed the mayor's practice of instructing a city employee to redirect charitable donations from a fund for Flint families affected by the lead water crisis to the mayor's political action committee (PAC) (Natasha Henderson v. City of Flint, Mich., et al., No. 16-11648, E.D. Mich.).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A Connecticut judge on May 5 denied the requests of four gun makers, a gun store and its owner to stay discovery in a suit brought by survivors and surviving family members in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting because delaying discovery until even October would most likely delay the trial (Donna L. Soto, et al. v. Bushmaster Firearms International LLC, et al., No. FBT CV 15 6048103 S, Conn. Super., Fairfield Dist.).
PALM BEACH, Fla. - A jury in Florida on April 27 awarded the widow of a smoker who died from lung cancer $12.5 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to the family to $33.5 million (Purdo v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2007CA024173, Fla. Cir., 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).
DENVER - A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 22 upheld a federal judge in Utah's ruling finding that PHL Variable Insurance Co. was entitled to summary judgment as well as the premiums paid as part of a stranger-originated life insurance (STOLI) policy scheme (PHL Variable Insurance Company v. The Sheldon Hathaway Family Insurance Trust, et al., Nos. 15-4028, 15-4029, 10th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 7315).
DENVER - An insurance expert may not offer opinions that conflict with a federal court's interpretation of an insurance policy's condominium enhancement endorsement in a breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit stemming from the insurer's denial of coverage for water damage, a Colorado federal judge ruled April 13 (Chateau Village North Condominium Association v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-01583, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 49665).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. - A New York federal judge on April 11 granted summary judgment in one of the remaining "body snatcher" cases, finding that a biologic implant provider did not directly interfere with a family's possession of their loved one's corpse and that the defendant is immunized by an organ donation law (Cyndia Kennedy-McInnis, et al. v. Biomedical Tissue Services, Ltd., et al., Nos. 13-6545, 06-6410, W.D. N.Y.).
DENVER - An insurer's biomechanical engineering expert was wrongfully disqualified from testifying as to vehicle dynamics, what happens in a rear-end collision and the nature of an insured's injury, 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled March 29, finding that a trial court failed to fulfill its gatekeeping function under Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. (509 U.S. 579 ) (Patrick Adamscheck v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-1125, 10th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 5753).
PITTSBURGH - A request for a declaratory judgment that the literary character Buck Rogers has entered into the public domain was turned away March 21 by a Pennsylvania federal judge, who instead found that a plaintiff film company failed to allege facts to sufficient a justiciable controversy under the Declaratory Judgment Act and Article III of the U.S. Constitution (Team Angry Filmworks Inc. v. Louise A. Geer, Trustee of the Dille Family Trust, No. 15-1381, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36286).
DENVER - Surface water that enters a sewer system and backs up through or overflows from a sewer or drain is covered by an insurance policy, a Colorado federal judge ruled March 16, also finding that genuine issues of material fact exist regarding the character of the water that caused damage to insured condos and whether the damage was exclusively caused by sewer water backup (Chateau Village North Condominium Association v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-01583, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33989).
NEW YORK - Evidence that former New York State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver received millions of dollars in fees from mesothelioma leads in exchange for funding research and helping the researcher's family supports a jury's verdict finding him guilty, the United States told a federal judge in New York on March 3 (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 15-93, S.D. N.Y.).
ST. LOUIS - In a class action, insureds failed to assert bad faith claims against their homeowners insurer for denied coverage and refusal to participate in appraisal of damages from a pipe burst, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed Feb. 24 (Michael Adams and Colleen Adams, on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 15-1475, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 3181).
SAN FRANCISCO - A judge improperly applied case law from a products liability case in a premises liability case and then compounded the error by denying a motion to amend the complaint, plaintiffs told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Feb. 18 (Titus May, etc., et al. v. Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., etc., et al., No. 15-56219, 9th Cir.).
DENVER - An insurer is not entitled to summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit because the factual allegations provided in the underlying complaint "do not fall solely and exclusively within the boundaries of the policy exclusions," a federal judge in Colorado ruled Feb. 22 (Weldesamuel Gebremedhin, et al. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 13-2813, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21059).
ST. LOUIS - A jury in Missouri on Feb. 22 awarded the family of a woman who died from ovarian cancer $72 million in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, finding that it was liable for her death as a result of her use of talc-containing products made by the company (Tiffany Hogans, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 1422-CC-09012, Mo. Cir., St. Louis City, 22nd Jud. Dist.).
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on Jan. 6 denied an insurer's motion for partial summary judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, ruling that the insureds' breach of contract and Colorado law claims are not time-barred (Jesus Borrego and Joanne Borrego v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 14-1732, D. Colo.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1014).
DENVER - A senior federal judge in Colorado on Dec. 11 granted an insurer's motion to alter judgment in an insurance breach of contract and bad faith lawsuit, holding that pursuant to the state's noneconomic damages cap, an insured is still entitled to more than $925,000 in damages stemming from the insurer's bad faith failure to provide coverage under an automobile insurance policy (Kimberley Carpenter v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 13-1986, D. Colo.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166952).
MADISON, Wis. - A trial court did not err in determining that an insurer did not act in bad faith in handling a water damage claim because the insurer had a reasonable basis to deny coverage under the policy's freezing exclusion, the Fourth District Wisconsin Court of Appeals said Nov. 25 (Lyle Hird, et al. v. American Family Mutual Insurance Co., No. 2014AP2402, Wis. App., Dist. 4; 2015 Wisc. App. LEXIS 834).