NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 18 affirmed a lower federal court's ruling that ordered two insurance agencies to pay $16.5 million in damages to a reinsurer on the reinsurer's tortious interference claim, but reversed parts of the ruling that were appealed by the reinsurer (Lincoln General Insurance Co. v. U.S. Auto Insurance Services, No. 13-10589, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8172).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal judge in California on May 15 declined to amend a judgment dismissing with prejudice claims, including one for violation of the state's unfair competition law (UCL), in a class action lawsuit alleging that a manufacturer of "flushable" wipes misled consumers in advertising the product because they are not really flushable, saying the plaintiff failed to present any newly discovered evidence or show that the dismissal was manifestly unjust (Jennifer Davidson v. Kimberly-Clark Corp., et al., No. 14-1783, N. D. Calif.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64168).
NEW YORK - A debt collector was not required to notify a debtor that any forgiven debt may be taxable, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 14, upholding a trial court's dismissal of the debtor's class complaint accusing the collector of violating the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) (Isaac Altman, et al. v. J.C. Christensen & Associates, Inc., No. 14-2240, 2nd Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7980).
TRENTON, N.J. - No coverage is available to homeowners for damages caused to their own property by a leaking underground fuel storage tank because the policy clearly excludes coverage under the owned property exclusion and limits coverage related to liability claims related to oil spills, the New Jersey Superior Court Appellate Division said May 15 (Stanley and Leah Weiss v. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance Co., No.A-5219-13T3, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2015 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1134).
CHICAGO - A commercial general liability insurer had a duty to defend allegations of defects in design and workmanship in a residential condominium and townhome development, an Illinois appeals panel affirmed May 15, finding that the duty was triggered because some of the allegations potentially fell within the coverage of the insurer's policy (West Bend Mutual Insurance Co. v. Pulte Home Corp., et al., No. 1-14-0355, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 6th Div.; 2015 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1039).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - A trial court focused too intently on a decedent's testimony in finding insufficient evidence of exposure from two shipping companies in an asbestos action and applied the wrong causation standard for a Jones Act case, a Pennsylvania appeals panel held May 18 (Timothy Criswell, executor of the estate of Earl J. Criswell v. Atlantic Richfield Co. and Sunoco Inc., No. 2175 EDA 2014, Pa. Super.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal magistrate judge on May 14 denied a motion to set aside a judgment confirming a $40 million arbitration award on the basis that reinsurers failed to comply with the Federal Arbitration Act's three-month limitation to challenge an arbitration award (Arrowood Indemnity Co. v. Equitas Insurance Limited, et al., No. 13-cv-07680, S.D. N.Y.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63643).
SAN FRANCISCO - Parties to a suit alleging a man contracted mesothelioma after exposure to asbestos as a seaman settled May 18 during trial, sources told Mealey Publications. On May 8, the federal judge overseeing the case applied maritime law and found the substantial factor causation standard governed the trial (Barry Kelly and Molly Kelly v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 11-3240, N.D. Calif.).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 18 affirmed the conviction of a man found guilty of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when opening a release valve that discharged several thousand gallons of semi-treated wastewater into the Nisqually River within Mount Rainier National Park, finding that the evidence supported the conviction and that the judge did not err when denying the man's requested jury instructions (United States of America v. James Barber, No. 14-30050, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8146).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia federal judge on May 18 denied a Swedish investor's petition to confirm a $185,530,618 award, including costs and interests, finding that the award could not be enforced on an ex parte basis and that the investor must file a plenary action and properly serve the Republic of Romania (Viorel Micula v. Government of Romania, No. 1:14-cv-00600, D. D.C.).
NEWARK, N.J. - A conductor who was working on Amtrak Train No. 188 when it derailed in Philadelphia on May 12 filed suit in New Jersey state court May 18, seeking damages for his injuries (Emilio Fonseca, et al. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. d/b/a Amtrak, No. N/A, N.J. Super. Essex Co.).
SAN DIEGO - A California appeals court on May 18 affirmed a $2.6 million verdict in which a jury found that an orthopedic device maker conspired with a surgeon to misrepresent to a spinal surgery patient that the device would "ensure" nerve safety (Brenda F. Kitrosser v. NuVasive, Inc., No. D064946, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1; 2015 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 3420).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on May 15 denied a motion filed by the federal government for additional findings of fact to support the idea that cleanup costs for contamination at a portion of the Lower Fox River caused by NCR Corp. are not divisible, ruling that the evidence presented at trial and the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' instructions on the issue demonstrate that the harm is divisible and that costs can be apportioned (United States of America v. NCR Corporation, et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63926).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Although leaving intact a California federal jury's determination that Apple Inc.'s design and utility patents were infringed by Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., Samsung Electronics America Inc. and Samsung Telecommunications America LLC (Samsung, collectively), the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 18 vacated a finding by jurors that Apple's asserted registered and unregistered iPhone trade dress is entitled to protection (Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., et al., Nos. 14-1335, 15-1029, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8096).
PASADENA, Calif. - Reversing a previous panel decision ordering YouTube LLC and Google Inc. to take down a controversial anti-Muslim film based on an actress' "heartfelt plea for personal protection," an en banc Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals majority on May 18 held that "a weak copyright claim cannot justify censorship in the guise of authorship" (Cindy Lee Garcia v. Google Inc., et al., No. 12-57302, 9th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8105).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The liquidator of an insolvent insurer asked a Pennsylvania court on May 18 to approve the recommended payment of $6.3 million in claims (In re: Reliance Insurance Co. in liquidation, No. 1 REL 2001, Pa. Cmwlth.).
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on May 18 granted Crane Co.'s motion to dismiss its indemnity action against Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. on the condition that the parties return all confidential documents (Crane Co. v. The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., No. 14-6509, C.D. Calif.).
PHILADELPHIA - Two suits were filed in Pennsylvania federal court May 18 alleging injuries resulting from the derailment of an Amtrak passenger train in Philadelphia (Blair Berman v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. a/k/a Amtrak, No. 15-02741, E.D. Pa.; Iban, et al. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. a/k/a Amtrak, No. 15-02744, E.D. Pa.).
AUSTIN, Texas - Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18 signed a bill that preempts regulation of hydraulic fracturing at the city level, overriding the fracking ban that was passed last year in a referendum that was approved in the City of Denton.
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 May 14 partially granted and partially denied a motion for summary judgment filed by the defendants, concluding that the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania's claim for subrogation was dismissed but that its claim for potential violation of state statutes could not be dismissed at this time (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products Liability Litigation, MDL 1358, No. 00-1898, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al., No. 14 Civ. 6228, S.D. N.Y).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 18 denied a denture cream plaintiff's request to review whether epidemiological studies are a precondition for an expert causation opinion (Marianne Chapman, et vir. v. Proctor & Gamble Distributing LLC, et al., No. 14-958, U.S. Sup.).
MACON, Ga. - The mere possibility that insureds could suffer future injury if their townhouse is damaged in the future is not enough to establish a justiciable controversy regarding coverage for diminished value, a Georgia federal judge said May 14 in denying the insureds' motion for class certification (John Thompson et al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., No. 14-32, M.D. Ga.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63113).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a unanimous opinion on May 18 that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred in holding that Employee Retirement Income Security Act Section 413(1) bars breach of fiduciary duty claims based on the fiduciaries' initial selection of plan investments without considering "the contours of the alleged breach of fiduciary duty" under trust law (Glenn Tibble, et al. v. Edison International, et al., No. 13-550, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A trial court erred when it concluded that Department of Veterans Affairs nurses seeking unpaid overtime pay must show that the overtime was officially ordered or approved by express direction to be compensable, the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruled May 15 (Stephanie Mercier, et al. v. United States, No. 2014-5074, Fed. Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 8003).