DETROIT - A class of plaintiffs who sued Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, members of his administration, state environmental workers, and other parties associated with the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Oct. 27 filed an amended complaint in Michigan federal court seeking an unspecified amount of punitive damages for allegedly exacerbating the crisis (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
LOS ANGELES - A California jury on Oct. 27 rejected claims that asbestos in a company's aerospace adhesives caused a woman's fatal mesothelioma, returning a defense verdict for Dexter Hysol Aerospace, sources told Mealey Publications (Velma Searcy v. 3M Co., et al., No. BC612205, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The state of North Dakota on Oct. 26 filed a notice of supplemental authority in District of Columbia federal court contending that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued documents that "represent a significant change" regarding litigation pertaining to the nondiscretionary duty under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to review and, if necessary, revise regulations for wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-5010, D.C. Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Oct. 25 denied a motion filed by the U.S. government seeking to dismiss a class action brought by the surviving spouses of servicemen who died from injuries allegedly caused by exposure to Agent Orange (Patricia Haddock, et al. v. The United States, No. 16-1423, Fed. Clms.; 2017 U.S. Claims LEXIS 1333).
PHILADELPHIA - The Pennsylvania Supreme Court on Oct. 26 accepted a certified question from the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals under which it will decide whether manufacturers can be held liable for asbestos-containing parts they neither manufactured nor supplied and what standard determines liability if such a duty exists (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No VI) Crane Co., No. 110EM 2017, Pa. Sup.).
RICHMOND, Va. - A judge's decision to sever and remand state law asbestos claims while retaining jurisdiction over third-party claims is not a final decision subject to appellate review, the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Oct. 24 (Wayne Oliver v. Campbell-McCormick Inc., et al. v. Clifford Oliver, June Stearns v. The Walter Campbell Co. Inc., No. 16-1895, 4th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 21220).
DETROIT - A class action brought by residents who claim a nearby oil company's emissions are contaminating their properties was revived by a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 26 after it found that the plaintiffs' claims are timely because the allegedly harmful emissions have continued to occur within the last three years (Gregory Cole, et al. v. Marathon Oil Corporation, et al., No. 16-2660, 6th Cir.).
CONCORD, N.H. - The liquidator for The Home Insurance Co. on Oct. 23 asked a New Hampshire trial court to approve a $1.7 million settlement with an insured to resolve asbestos claims under three insurance policies (In the Matter of the Liquidation of The Home Insurance Co., No. 03-E-0106, N.H. Super., Merrimack Co.).
DALLAS - A Texas appellate court asked a widow and her two children for a response to an employer's petition for rehearing that argued that its "direct, rifle-shot complaint" preserved a challenge to causation in an asbestos case that produced an $18.6 million verdict (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 05-15-00001-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals heard oral argument Oct. 24 about whether a jury can logically find that a defendant was the proximate cause of a man's mesothelioma and that an employer was an intervening cause and whether the plaintiff properly objected to a verdict form with both issues (Erik Ross Phillips and Tina Landers v. Pneumo Abex LLC and Reddaway Manufacturing Corporation Inc., No. 16-1508, 4th Cir.).
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Oct. 25 ruled that a petroleum engineer cannot proffer expert testimony as to whether a fracking services company was negligent when completing the construction of a disputed oil well but that he can testify regarding the standard of care and whether the standard of care was breached (Singer Oil Company LLC v. Newfield Exploration Midcontinent Inc., et al., CIV-16-768, W.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 176426).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California judge on Oct. 24 denied a premises owner's request for a new trial, leaving stand a jury's $12.9 million verdict for a man's environmental asbestos exposures, according to the docket (Lanette Louise Lopez, et al. v. The Hillshire Brands Co., RG14721622, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
ALEXANDRIA, Va. - In an Oct. 23 ruling, the Patent Trial and Appeal Board announced that it will review the patentability of seven claims of an electronic cigarette patent but denied institution with regard to five others (R.J. Reynolds Vapor Co. v. Fontem Holdings 1 BV, No. IPR2017-01120, PTAB).
PORTLAND, Ore. - The broad right to federal courts defendants who operated under a federal officer enjoy is not erased by a post-removal disclaimer of federal liability, two companies tell the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an Oct. 20 opening brief (Melissa Coury, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 17-35492, 9th Cir.).
RICHMOND, Va. - A panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 20, in an unpublished opinion, affirmed a ruling that a group of residents lacked standing to sue the U.S. Army for allegedly contaminating their groundwater supply with waste that was dumped from a military installation (Angela Pieper v. United States of America, No. 16-2035, 4th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App, LEXIS 20796).
LOS ANGELES - After failing to remove asbestos from its product, Johnson & Johnson worried more about "protecting the franchise" than preventing exposure to asbestos from its talcum powder, a plaintiff told a California jury on Oct. 19 in a closely watched asbestos trial (Tina Herford, et al. v. AT&T Corp., et al., No. BC646315, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Two companies on Oct. 20 defended a ruling rejecting an $8 million judgment, telling the Florida Supreme Court that the state's Legislature is free to adopt the Daubert standard and that expert testimony that every exposure to asbestos leads to mesothelioma fails regardless of which standard the court applies (Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al., No. SC16-2182, Fla. Sup.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A daughter's affidavit that can be read as contradicting her mother's deposition testimony goes to the credibility of that testimony and is not subject to rejection under the sham affidavit doctrine, and the two pieces of evidence combine to create triable issues in a home-crafting asbestos action, a Rhode Island judge held Oct. 19 (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Loretta Belac v. 3M Co., et al., No. PC-2016-0544, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation).
SAN FRANCISCO - Expert testimony that asbestos contaminated the source of the talc a woman regularly used for more than 20 years by itself creates triable issues and required denying summary judgment, a California appeals court held Oct. 19 (Mary Lyons v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., No. A150567, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
PHILADELPHIA - A couple on Oct. 18 asked a federal court in Pennsylvania to dismiss its case so that they can appeal judgment for a company that allegedly installed asbestos-containing insulation on U.S. Navy ships (Carol Decourcey, et al. v. ABB Inc., et al., No. MDL 875, 14-6337, E.D. Pa.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A panel of judges in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida on Oct. 18 ordered two law firms pay $9.1 million in sanctions for filing 1,250 frivolous Engle progeny complaints (In Re: Engle Cases, No. 3:09-cv-10000, M.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172678).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A California court correctly imposed a $765,000 civil penalty against a man for illegal cigarette sales at two smoke shops on Indian land because neither federal law nor tribal sovereignty preempts the state's regulation and enforcement of its laws regarding cigarette sales, a state appeals court held Oct. 17 (The People ex rel. Xavier Becerra, as Attorney General, etc., v. Darren Paul Rose, No. C080546, Calif. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 900).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - Reinsurance facultative certificates covered defense expenses in excess of a liability cap, a Pennsylvania appeals panel ruled Oct. 17, affirming that insurers were entitled to interest on certain proofs of loss for asbestos claims issued before 2013 (Century Indemnity Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Co., No. 1280 EDA 2016, Pa. Super., 2017 Pa. Super. LEXIS 806).
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Oct. 13 ruled that a $1.09 million settlement in a lawsuit involving the release of perchloroethylene (PCE) into the groundwater supply was "fair and equitable" because it will provide remediation and future oversight costs for an area that was contaminated by a dry-cleaning business (Viola Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-cv-01257, E.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170002).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An agreement resolving a couple's asbestosis claim specifically envisions future mesothelioma claims as among the universe of potential claims and bars a subsequent suit, a federal judge in Louisiana held Oct. 13 (Lorita M. Savoie, et al. v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 15-1220, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169348).