PHILADELPHIA - A regional office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced March 28 that the owner of a chemical repackaging and distribution plant in Reading, Pa., agreed to pay a $55,000 penalty for illegally storing oil and hazardous waste and that it would donate $30,000 of emergency response equipment to a local fire department.
FLINT, Mich. - A Michigan federal judge on March 23 denied a motion to certify a class of retired emergency workers who allege that their retiree benefits were improperly reduced (Craig Serafino, et al. v. City of Hamtramck, et al., No. 14-14112, E.D. Mich.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37353).
LANSING, Mich. - The Flint Water Advisory Task Force (FWATF) commissioned by Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder issued a report on March 21, which concluded that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) "bears primary responsibility for the water contamination in Flint." The task force also determined that "the framework" for the specific events that resulted in the water crisis was "a litany of questionable decisions and failures," conducted within the framework of the state's Emergency Manager Law.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held its second hearing on the Flint water crisis on March 15, at which the former director of the Region 5 Office of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the former emergency manager for the city and the former mayor of the city all denied responsibility for the lead water crisis.
PHILADELPHIA - An emergency medical technician (EMT) for a Pennsylvania-based ambulance service was sentenced March 10 by a federal judge in Pennsylvania to 37 months in prison and ordered to pay $2 million in restitution for his role in a fraudulent billing scheme (United States of America v. Fritzroy Brown, No. 14cr596, E.D. Pa.).
NEW YORK - A judge in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 8 granted an emergency stay of a lower court's order that required a group of plaintiffs to dismiss their chemical injury lawsuit pending in Pennsylvania state court against Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (Tronox Incorporated v. Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, No. 14-5495, 2nd Cir.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (OEPA) on Jan. 25 declared a "water supply emergency" for the Village of Sebring and proposed revoking the license of the agency that supplies drinking water to the village due to excessive levels of lead in the water.
FLINT, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette announced Jan. 15 that his office is investigating the water crisis in Flint, Mich., to see if state laws were violated in connection with the lead contamination that has forced the governor to declare a state of emergency.
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court denied an insurer's emergency motion to rehear its petition for writ of mandamus challenging a lower court's grant of an ex parte temporary restraining order (TRO) that compelled the production of class-based discovery, according to a Nov. 18 pronounced order on the high court's website (In Re National Lloyds Insurance Co., Nos. 15-0867, Texas Sup.).
BOSTON - A divided First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 17 ruled that Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) employees who were terminated after their facility was closed failed to show that the closing was biased or in retaliation for complaints they made (Francisco Abril-Rivera, et al. v. Jeh Johnson, Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, et al., No. 14-1316, 1st Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 19908).
CLEVELAND - An Ohio federal judge on Nov. 13 denied a motion for emergency relief filed by an eyeglass retailer accused of violating Ohio state law with its "Buy One Get One Free" ads (Elliott Graiser v. Visionworks of America, Inc., No. 15-2306, N.D. Ohio; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 153802).
NEW ALBANY, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Aug. 24 denied a hospital's motion to dismiss it from a former emergency room doctor's False Claims Act (FCA) lawsuit, after finding that the plaintiff's allegation that he was subject to retaliatory termination as a result of his complaints that the hospital was fraudulently billing Medicare are not subject to the heightened pleading requirement of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 9(b) (James Thomas, M.D. v. EmCare Inc., et al., No. 14-cv-00130-SEB-TAB, S.D. Ind.; 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111514).
NEW ORLEANS - An expert's opinion on the standard of care was sufficiently reliable to pass a "gatekeeping assessment" for purposes of showing that Wal-Mart Stores Texas L.L.C. was negligent in failing to provide a 72-hour emergency supply of prescriptions when a customer's doctor could not be reached, the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 12 (Shan Kovaly v. Wal-Mart Stores Texas LLC, No. 14-20697, 5th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 14346).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Chapter 11 debtor Energy Future Holdings Corp. (EFH) on July 23 filed an amended plan of reorganization that includes two options for emerging from bankruptcy, with the company favoring a plan that includes $12.1 billion of new debt and equity arranged by an ad hoc group and the conversion of EFH into a real estate investment trust (In re: Energy Future Holdings Corp., No. 14-10979, D. Del. Bkcy.).
CHICAGO - A state appeals court June 26 denied reconsideration of its ruling affirming the entry of summary judgment for several physicians and a hospital in a suit alleging medical malpractice and violation of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA) (Koni Johnson v. Christine Pabin Bishof, et al., No. 1-13-1122, Ill. App., 1st Jud. Dist.; 2015 Ill. App. LEXIS 492)
LOS ANGELES - A California man filed a class action lawsuit in federal court on June 1, seeking economic losses for commercial fishermen and coastal businesses that suffered damages as the result of the May 15 rupture of a pipeline owned by Plains All American Pipeline L.P. that resulted in the discharge of more than 100,000 gallons of crude oil along the Santa Barbara, Calif., shoreline, asserting that the company should have installed an emergency shut-off valve for that portion of the pipeline (Stace Cheverez, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, No. 15,cv-4113-CBM-JEM, C.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 1 denied a condominium insured's writ of certiorari seeking to overturn the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' finding that its undisputed failure to strictly obey a federal flood insurance policy's proof-of-loss requirement dooms its Hurricane Irene claim (Admiralty Condominium Association Inc., Petitioner v. Director, Federal Emergency Management Agency, et al., No. 14-1283, U.S. Sup.; 2015 U.S. LEXIS 3680).
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. - United Gilsonite Laboratories (UGL), the maker of home improvement products Drylock sealant and ZAR wood finish, emerged from Chapter 11 protection on May 28 with the issuance by a Pennsylvania federal bankruptcy judge of a final decree, closing a case filed four years ago to protect the family-owned business from asbestos personal injury claims (In re: United Gilsonite Laboratories, 11-2032, M.D. Pa. Bkcy.).
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from allegedly defective Chinese drywall on May 20 granted in part an emergency motion to compel filed by manufacturers asking the claims resolution firm BrownGreer PLC to produce documents before the deposition of the firm's own witness, as well as a proposed expert for the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee (PSC) (In re: Chinese-Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2047, Case No. 09-md-2047, E.D. La.).
DETROIT - A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 13 reversed a jury's finding that the owners of a non-emergency ambulance company committed identity theft when submitting false claims to Medicare, holding that the government did not present sufficient evidence to support the verdict (United States of America v. Kathy Medlock, et al., No. 14-5084/5100, 6th Cir.; 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 7867).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced April 21 that Citizens Medical Center, a county-owned hospital in Texas, agreed to pay $21.7 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act (FCA) by overcompensating cardiologists for their services and paid bonuses to emergency room employees who improperly took into account the value of their cardiology referrals.