NEW ORLEANS - Asbestos plaintiffs' claims that a shipyard negligently failed to warn about the dangers of asbestos on its premises do not create a colorable defense or causal nexus required for removal, a federal judge in Louisiana held June 19. The shipyard filed a notice of appeal on June 20 (Victor J. Blouin Sr., et al. v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 17-2636, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93537).
NEWARK, N.J. - NVR Inc., doing business as Ryan Homes, on June 15 agreed to pay a $425,000 civil penalty and agreed to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits to resolve allegations from the federal government that the home builder was violating the Clean Water Act (United States of America v. NVR, Inc., No. 17cv4346, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The attorneys general for 14 states and the attorney for the city of Chicago on June 20 moved in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to intervene in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocacy groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in connection with the EPA's announcement that it is reconsidering rules on the fugitive emissions of methane (Clean Air Council, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-1145. D.C. Cir.).
TULSA, Okla. - A federal judge in Oklahoma on June 20 ruled that the successors to the owner of a former zinc smelting facility can face liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for fugitive air emissions that resulted in contamination at a nearby town (Cyprus Amax Minerals Company v. TCI Pacific Communications, Inc., No. 11-CV-0252-CVE-PJC, N.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94682).
SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on June 19 denied a man's request for a new trial over his alleged violation of the Clean Water Act (CWA), finding that the prosecution did not engage in misconduct during closing arguments and that the evidence supported the jury's verdict (United States of America v. Bingham Fox, et al., No. 16-cr-100-RSL, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93985).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on June 16 filed its answer to one of the complaints in the multidistrict litigation for Roundup products, in which it denied that exposure to its product, which contains glyphosate, could have caused the plaintiff's alleged non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Evidence that a company did not manufacture the type of fully assembled brake product a witness identified frees the company from an asbestos action, a judge in Delaware held June 14 (Amanda Dullinger and Stephen Dullinger v. American Honda Motor Co., et al., No. N15C-04-281, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Texas Supreme Court on June 16 declined to wade into whether a nine-year delay in accepting the terms of settlement resolving asbestos claims was appropriate under the terms of the agreement or constituted unreasonable delay (Union Carbide Corp. v. Perry Jones, Rosemary Allegria, et al., No. 16-0648, Texas Sup.).
BOSTON - An environmental group's Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit against a company that crushes brick, concrete and asphalt for construction projects was dismissed by a federal judge in Massachusetts on June 16 after he found that the group failed to allege how the company was illegally discharging storm water into the Bogastow Brook (Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. v. American Recycled Materials, Inc., No. 16-12451-RGS, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92803).
CLEVELAND - Expert testimony attributing a man's mesothelioma to cumulative exposure to asbestos in automobile brakes simply dresses up the theory that every exposure leads to disease in new clothing and is inadmissible under Ohio law, a manufacturer and its amici curiae told the state's highest court on June 15 (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 2016-1372, Ohio Sup.).
NEW YORK - A company waived privilege over a redacted attorney-client memo providing advice involving the asbestos-cement pipe business due to its repeated disclosure concessions, but the company's more strenuous efforts regarding an unredacted version keeps it privileged, a New York appeals court held June 15 (Richard Warren v. Amchem Products Inc., et al., No. 4297, 190281/2014, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 4808).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 19 refused to hear the appeal of a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney, who challenged a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. for injuries they had alleged were caused by the company's oil field operations in Ecuador (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16-1178, U.S. Sup.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - 3M Co. on June 14 filed a brief in Alabama federal court denying liability for groundwater contamination and contending that the claims brought against it under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6901et seq., for "imminent and substantial endangerment" do not require a response, but if it were to respond, the company denies the allegations (Tennessee Riverkeeper Inc. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-1029, N.D. Ala.).
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - A Florida judge on June 15 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny suit after the jury deadlocked on compensatory damages and attorneys for Philip Morris USA Inc. argued that there cannot be a compromise verdict (Jo Freeman v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2015CA003930, Fla., 8th Jud. Cir., Alachua Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
HACKENSACK, N.J. - Property owners filed a complaint in the Bergen County Superior Court on June 12 contending that Verizon New Jersey Inc. is liable for $1,591,435 in damages because it failed to remediate contamination on property it leased from the plaintiffs in breach of its rental contract (Joan Rudnick, et al. v. Verizon New Jersey Inc., No. L-4023-17, N.J. Super., Bergen Co.).
PITTSBURGH - A mother who sued her daughter's elementary school contending that she was poisoned by lead and copper drinking water on June 14 voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit against the school district (Jennifer Tait, et al. v. Butler Area School District, et al., No. 17-182, W.D. Pa.).
CHICAGO - A trial judge erred in denying forum non conveniens transfer where the plaintiff was at best equivocal regarding his exposure in his chosen forum, an Illinois appeals court held June 13 (Irvin Rohl and Marlene Rohl v. Borg Warner Corp., et al., No. 2016 L 676, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 1148).
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on June 14 charged Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Nick Lyon and four other state and local officials with involuntary manslaughter in connection with their failure to act in response to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., which resulted in an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease and lead contamination.
TAMPA, Fla. - The plaintiffs who brought a groundwater contamination lawsuit against a fertilizer manufacturer in Florida, contending that their private wells had been tainted, voluntarily dismissed the case June 12, with no explanation provided (Nicholas Bohn, et al. v. The Mosaic Company, et al., No. 16-02724, M.D. Fla.).
ROANOKE, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia on June 9 awarded partial summary judgment to a limestone seller after finding that it is not a corporate successor to a mining company under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Dixon Lumber Company v. Austinville Limestone Company, Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88642).
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 12 vacated and remanded a summary judgment ruling in a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a California water district against oil and gasoline companies on grounds that a district court's res judicata ruling was not appropriate because privity was not established (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation: Orange County Water District v. Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. n/ka TMR Company, No. 15-3934, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10412).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 12 declined to wade into a dispute over the proper causation standard in a Jones Act case involving allegations of asbestos exposure aboard a cruise line (Giovanna Settimi Caraffa, et al. v. Carnival Cruise Lines, No. 16-1074, U.S. Sup.).
DENVER - A federal judge in Colorado on June 7 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to dismiss a couple's claims that the emissions from a neighbor's coal-fired boiler located on the Southern Ute Tribal Reservation violated the opacity standards of the Clean Air Act (CAA) after overruling the plaintiffs' argument that the statute sets those standards (Karen Nakayama, et al. v. Jennifer L. Sanders, et al., No. 17-cv-0285-WJM-NYW, D. Colo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87031).
LOS ANGELES - A company's failure to try to contain a memo containing confidential attorney-client advice for more than three years, even as it went "viral" in asbestos litigation, warrants denying a motion to seal, a California appeals court held June 8 (Elaine Margie Paulus, et al. v. J-M Manufacturing Company Inc., No. B269904, Calif. App., 2nd Dist.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - Liability is a nebulous term, and absent an actual document demonstrating that a ship owner transferred all liabilities to a subsidiary, genuine issues exist about who is responsible for a man's exposure to asbestos, an Oregon court held June 8 (Clifton J. Williams Sr., et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. A158077, Ore. App., 2017 Ore. App. LEXIS 741).