MIAMI - A German automaker's contacts with Florida are insufficient grounds on which to exercise jurisdiction over the company, a Florida appeals court held May 17 (Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft d/b/a Volkswagen AG v. Carol Jones, et al., No. 2D15-5716, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not abuse his discretion when refusing to review the denial of a food grocer's claim for $2.4 million under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 18, holding that the claims administrator did not misapply or contradict the terms of the settlement by allowing program accountants to calculate the grocer's monthly profits and losses (Claimant ID 100217021 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 16-30930, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8770).
TRENTON, N.J. - Evidence that a man worked with asbestos and that Union Carbide Corp. supplied more than 40,000 pounds of the mineral to the facility at which he worked are enough to establish exposure, even without a direct link, a New Jersey appeals court held in reversing judgment May 17 (Thomasina Fowler, et al. v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals Inc., et al., No. A-2300-15T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.).
PHILADELPHIA - Less than two months after having its fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, John Crane Inc. (JCI) filed the identical claims against one of the firms and its principals in Pennsylvania federal court May 15 (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).
DETROIT - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and a group of state employees on May 17 filed a brief in Michigan federal court in support of a renewed motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them by residents of Flint, Mich., related to the lead-contaminated water crisis, contending that they are immune from suit (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Discovery into underlying asbestos claims is not warranted in a class action alleging that a talc company destroyed evidence relevant to asbestos claims because the case involves the scheme to protect the company from liability, not the tort actions, plaintiffs told a federal judge in New Jersey on May 12 (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
CENTRE, Ala. - A municipal waterworks and sewer authority on May 15 filed a lawsuit against 3M Co., E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. and assorted other manufacturers in Alabama state court, alleging that they are liable for "negligent, willful, and wanton conduct" for the release of various toxic chemicals into the drinking water for Centre, Ala. (The Waterworks and Sewer Board of the Town of Centre v. 3M Company, et al., No. 13-CV-2017-900049.00, Ala. Cir., Cherokee Co.).
NEW YORK - Parties filing post-trial motions after a $7 million asbestos-tainted talc verdict in New York briefed a justice on May 15 over whether a February ruling involving the state's causation standard eliminates the ability to prove asbestos cases using cumulative exposure and visible dust evidence or whether it simply reiterates the existing framework (Claudine Discala, as administrator of the estate of Joan Robusto v. Charles B. Chrystal Company Inc., et al., No. 190413/2013, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
DENVER - A Colorado Supreme Court majority on May 15 determined that blunt wraps are a tobacco product and subject to taxation under Colorado's tobacco tax because they are a "kind" or "form" of tobacco and fall within "the plain language of 'tobacco products'" under Colorado's tobacco tax (Colorado Department of Revenue, et al. v. Creager Mercantile Co. Inc., No. 15SC266, Colo. Sup., 2017 Colo. LEXIS 376).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 12 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling ordering a shrimp-processing company to repay more than $1 million it received from the Deepwater Horizon Economic Claims Center (DHECC), finding that the company misrepresented that it was not a failed business in order to receive the payout (In re Deepwater Horizon: Crystal Seafood Company, Inc. v. Patrick A. Juneau, No. 16-30717, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8463).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Chevron Corp. on May 15 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that, with regard to the petition for writ of certiorari filed by a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney who challenge a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against the company, there is no legal issue warranting the Supreme Court's review (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16-1178, U.S. Sup.).
ST. LOUIS - The Missouri residents who contend that they have been injured by exposure to radioactive material and the company that they say is liable on May 11 filed a joint request for a conference with the federal judge in Missouri who presides over the case on grounds that they have reached an impasse regarding the deposition of expert witnesses (Scott D. McClurg, et al. v. MI Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-361 [consolidated], E.D. Mo.).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on May 12 awarded the widow of a smoker $5 million in punitive damages in an Engle progeny suit, bringing the total award to $6.8 million (Mary Sheffield v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2013-CA-009469, Fla. 9th Jud. Cir., Orange Co.).
JACKSON, Tenn. - A divided Tennessee Court of Appeals panel vacated a $4.6 million take-home asbestos verdict May 12, finding that the jury instructions improperly allowed a jury to find negligence without first finding a defective product. All three judges questioned precedent governing how the state's courts decide whether a duty exists to prevent harm (Joyce and Ronnie Stockton v. Ford Motor Co., No. W2016-01175-COA-R3-CV, Tenn. App., 2017 Tenn. App. LEXIS 308).
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 11 refused to overturn the ruling in Commander Oil Corp. v. Barlo Equip. Corp., 215 F.3d 321, 329 (2000), which sets out when a lessee can be considered an owner of a property under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to reverse a federal judge in New York's decision to award summary judgment to defendant companies accused of contaminating a property with perchloroethylene (PCE) (Next Millenium Realty, LLC, et al. v. Adchem Corp., et al., No. 16-1260-CV, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8476).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Evidence that a farm hand worked with a company's tractors during a certain period does not establish that the parts he encountered originated with the manufacturer, a judge in Delaware held May 10 (Nathanial Harris v. Deere & Co., et al., No. N14C-03-220 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A woman allegedly exposed to asbestos carried home on her husband's clothing has not alleged a change in law or newly discovered evidence that warrants revisiting a ruling that a manufacturer is not liable for her injuries, a Delaware state judge held May 11 (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Atlas Turner Ltd., et al., No. N14C-01-287 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
PASADENA, Calif. - Attorneys for the City of Pomona, Calif., and a chemical company debated before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 10 whether the city's groundwater contamination lawsuit should be reopened due to the city's allegation that a district court improperly excluded some of the testimony of its expert witness while the court improperly permitted the defendant's expert to "confuse the jury" (City of Pomona, Calif. v. SQM North America Corp., No. 15-56062, 9th Cir.).
BELLE CHASSE, La. - Plaquemines Parish President Amos Cormier on May 9 announced that a $45 million settlement had been reached between the parish and BP Exploration & Production Inc. over damages stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010 (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, E.D. La.).
OCALA, Fla. - A Florida state court jury on May 9 awarded a woman $858,209 in compensatory damages after finding that her husband's cancer and death was caused by his addiction to cigarettes (Joy Lawrence v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 2009-CA-000178, Fla. 5th Jud. Cir. Marion Co.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an additional brief in Oklahoma federal court on May 5 contending that the plaintiffs cannot designate the company's CEO as a specific witness under federal procedural rules (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al. and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Philip Morris USA Inc. says in a May 8 reply brief in California federal court in support of its motion to dismiss a wrongful death suit against it and another tobacco company that the man who brought the suit failed to join his children as parties and that he cannot represent them because he is suspended from practicing law (Julius Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-618, E.D. Calif.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on May 8 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court arguing that 10 prior orders issued in a lawsuit brought against it by residents who argue that the company is liable for contaminating their drinking water should be adopted in another lawsuit that asserts the same causes of action (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).