NEW YORK - The attorney representing a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for injuries, only to have it reversed, on Jan. 16 filed a letter with the presiding judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, arguing that the special masters in the case "have chosen to utterly ignore" the issues the attorney raised concerning fees. Moreover, he contends that there are "ethical problems" with the billing process the special masters used (Chevron Corporation v. Donziger, et al., Case No. 11 Civ. 691, S.D. N.Y.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. filed an answer in the multidistrict litigation for Roundup in California federal court on Jan. 16 denying that exposure to the herbicide "did or could have caused" non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) as alleged by a specific plaintiff (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation [Kevin McNew v. Monsanto Co.], MDL No. 2741, No. 17-6858, N.D. Calif.).
RICHMOND, Va. - Adopting an asbestos plaintiff's timeliness argument in opposing removal requires the court to impermissibly determine a boilermaker's subjective knowledge, a federal judge in Maryland held in denying remand on Jan. 10 (Janya Sawyer, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 16-1530 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4991).
NEW YORK - New York's top court on Jan. 11 denied leave to appeal after a lower court found a manufacturer of brake-grinding machines had a duty to warn about the dangers the use of its machines with asbestos-containing brakes posed and affirmed a stipulated $9 million award (Walter Miller v. BMW of North America LLC, et al., No. 2017-1076, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 48).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 16 declined to address former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's claim that a circuit court split exists over how to handle commingled funds in money-laundering cases and whether directing individuals to a law firm constitutes normal attorney conduct or is something more untoward (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 17-562, U.S. Sup.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - The clock for removing an asbestos case began with the receipt of the deposition transcript, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel said Jan. 11 in adopting a bright-line test (Curtis D. Morgan v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 17-30523, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 741).
ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 11 denied a motion for reconsideration, saying the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying the standard for jurisdiction before he issued his own opinion, while also saying the newly minted precedent would not change the outcome (Willie Everett, et al. v. Aurora Pump Co., et al., No. 17-230, E.D. Mo.).
NEW YORK - The city of New York on Jan. 9 filed a lawsuit in federal court against five oil companies, claiming that the companies are responsible for climate change and seeking to recover damages to the city's infrastructure (City of New York v BP PLC, et al., No. 18-CV-00182, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not err when refusing to review the denial of a man's claim for compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 9, finding that a policy in the agreement excludes transactions that are not arm's length transactions as revenue (Claimant ID 100190818 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al, No. 17-30099, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A company's sale of tens of thousands of units of asbestos-containing drywall in Oklahoma easily surpasses the bar for jurisdiction in the state, a man told the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 denied two tobacco companies' petition for a writ of certiorari and upheld a finding that using the original Engle findings in Engle progeny suits does not violate due process (R.J. Reynolds, et al. v. Theresa Graham, No. 17-415, U.S. Sup.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A California appeals panel on Jan. 8 reversed a trial court judge's ruling that a special causation standard applies to companies accused of being responsible parties for contamination under the Polanco Redevelopment Act, finding that a plaintiff must show only that the manufacturer's improper instructions on disposal were a factor in the contamination (City of Modesto v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. A134419, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 4th Div., 2018 Calif. App. LEXIS 13).
HARTFORD, Conn. - Five mason laborers seeking medical monitoring after alleged exposed to asbestos during renovations at a school on Dec. 18 appealed a ruling striking their negligence, premises liability and recklessness claims, after arguing that the claims survive under recent Connecticut precedent construing exposures as an injury. The plaintiffs on Jan. 4 asked the court to enter default against the defendants on the negligent infliction of emotional distress claims the court did not strike (Julian Poce, et al. v. O&G Industries Inc., et al., No. HHD CV 17-60742454-S, Conn. Dist., Hartford at Hartford).
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Jan. 5 said it would hear oral arguments in March in an asbestos case involving whether Daubert can be applied in Florida and whether expert testimony that every exposure to asbestos leads to mesothelioma satisfies whatever standard the state uses (Richard DeLisle v. Crane Co., et al., No. SC16-2182, Fla. Sup.).
CINCINNATI - In an asbestos coverage dispute, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 3 denied a panel rehearing and rehearing en banc on a decision to not conduct an in camera review of an insurer's documents disclosed to third parties other than a reinsurer and a claims adjuster (In re OneBeacon Insurance Co. v. The William Powell Co., No. 17-3852, 6th Cir.).
DALLAS - The Texas attorney general overstates the case in favor of unsealing deposition testimony from a law firm's principal and ignores that there is no evidence the record constitutes a court document, appellees told the state's appeals court on Jan. 3 (Christine Cole Biederman v. Beverly Jean Brown, et al., No. 01-07-00263-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
PORTLAND, Ore. - The state of Oregon on Jan. 4 filed suit in state court against Monsanto Co., Pharmacia Corp. and Solutia Inc., seeking more than $100 million in damages to clean up contamination in the state's groundwater and soil resulting from the companies' manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (State of Oregon v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 18CV00540, Ore. Cir., Multnomah Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The affirmative act of selling asbestos-containing products is misfeasance and does not require a special relationship between the parties for imposition of a duty to protect household members from exposure, a woman told the Delaware Supreme Court on Dec. 28 (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center, et al., No. 305, 2017, Del. Sup.).
CINCINNATI - A court should dismiss five asbestos plaintiffs from a group of 258 consolidated appeals, where one plaintiff's identical state court action was dismissed with prejudice and the other four failed to file timely appeals, ship owners told the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 29 in defense of personal jurisdiction dismissals (James Matthews, et al. v. Chas, Kurz & Co. Inc., et al., Nos. 16-4146, 16-4269, 16-4354, 16-4757, 17-3238, 17-3480, 17-3735, 17-3915, 17-3918, 6th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA - Asbestos defendants waived personal jurisdiction defenses when they fought transfer to a different jurisdiction for pretrial management, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Dec. 28 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, Joseph Blue, et al., No. 16-4148, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26849).
PHILADELPHIA - Pennsylvania law all but eradicating joint and several liability applies to strict liability asbestos cases, a state appellate court held in remanding for a new trial on the issue of liability Dec. 28 (William Roverano, et al. v. John Crane Inc. et al., Nos. 2837 EDA 2016, 2847 EDA 2016, Pa. Super.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Only by requiring those who use to tobacco products to submit medical reports indicating whether they qualify as "smokers" can Ohio courts give the General Assembly's choice of words meaning, a company told the Ohio Supreme Court on Dec. 22 (Bobby Turner, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 17-0004, Ohio Sup.).
MIAMI - A panel of the Third District Florida Court of Appeal on Dec. 27 denied the request of two Engle progeny plaintiffs to quash an order from the trial court disqualifying their counsel because the firm representing them had an attorney who previously worked representing tobacco companies in similar suits and had access to previous trial strategies for Philip Morris USA Inc. (David Canta, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 3D17-1959, Fla. App. 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 19761).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on Dec. 28 dismissed with prejudice a claim brought by two environmental groups contending that Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU) is violating the Clean Water Act by allowing storm water containing pollutants from its coal-ash settlement ponds to migrate into a navigable waterway, holding that the discharges are not subject to the act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements (Kentucky Waterways Alliance, et al. v. Kentucky Utilities Co., No. 17-cv-292-DCR, E.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212329).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A panel of the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 22 remanded for further consideration the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's rule regulating workplace exposure to silica because the initial rule was "arbitrary and capricious" (North America's Building Trades Unions v. Occupational Safety & Health Administration, et al., No. 16-1105, D.C. Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26315).