JACKSON, Miss. - A man's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis started the clock on the statute of limitations and bars his silicosis claim against a respirator manufacturer, a divided Mississippi Supreme Court held May 18 in reversing a $14 million verdict (American Optical Corp. v. Estate of Robert Lee Rankin Sr., et al., No. 2015-CA-0166-SCT, Miss. Sup., 2017 Miss. LEXIS 190).
MIAMI - A Florida state court jury on May 19 awarded a woman who developed lung cancer from smoking $1.3 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to $2.4 million in the suit where she claimed that the misinformation spread about the harmfulness and addictive nature of cigarettes by a tobacco company led to her lung cancer (Linda Martin v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 07-34267-CA, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - Four industry specific methodologies (ISMs) for calculating claimant compensation under the Court Supervised Settlement Program for the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement are inconsistent with the agreement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 22, finding that the methods allow the claims administrator to remove revenue from the requested compensation period and spread it throughout noncompensation months (In re Deepwater Horizon: Lake Eugene Land & Development, Inc. et al. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 15-30377, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8915).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The engineering firms asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against residents of Flint, Mich., regarding liability for the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city on May 22 filed their reply brief contending that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' decision that a plaintiff may obtain remand under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) without evidence of class members' citizenship results in a circuit split that is "stark and wide" (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A man's maritime asbestos suit improperly naming a successor as a defendant put an independent corporation that operates as a subsidiary of the named defendant on notice that it was being sued, a New York justice held in an opinion posted May 18 (Joseph J. Crandley v. Farrell Lines Inc., et al., No. 190033/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1836).
ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an en banc decision on May 18 ruled that federal law does not preempt smokers from filing negligence suits against tobacco companies and affirmed a $2.75 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8718).
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.).