FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury on Feb. 5 awarded the family of a former smoker $27 million in punitive damages in an Engle progeny suit, bringing the total amount of damages to $40.9 million (Dawn Schlefstein v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CV-022558, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of Michigan residents on Feb. 5 filed a consolidated brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that three separate petitions for writ of certiorari filed by various Michigan entities should be denied because a federal appellate panel "faithfully applied this Court's precedents" when it ruled that the residents' claims related to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., are not preempted by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (Daniel Wyant, et al. v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-901, Jeff Wright, et al. v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-666, and City of Flint, et al. v. Beatrice Boler, et al., No. 17-989, U.S. Sup.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims on Jan. 31 dismissed an inverse condemnation lawsuit against the federal government concerning drinking water that was contaminated with hexavalent chromium from McClellan Air Force Base on grounds that the case was filed prematurely (Rio Linda Elverta Community Water District v. United States of America, No. 17-859 C, Fed. Clms.; 2018 U.S. Claims LEXIS 47).
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 1 denied a well services company's motion to dismiss a breach of contract lawsuit against it related to groundwater contamination that the company allegedly caused by failing to perform services properly on a hydraulic fracturing well site (EQT Production Company v. Terra Services LLC, No. 14-01053, W.D. Pa.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A trial court judge did not err when denying a landlord's motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV) after finding that a man provided sufficient evidence to show that the presence of lead paint in a home his mother rented when he was a child significantly contributed to his injuries, a Maryland Special Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 30 (Benjamin L. Kirson v. Devon Johnson, No. 1861 September Term, 2016, Md. Sp. App., 2018 Md. App. LEXIS 79).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge on Jan. 31 dismissed the Sacramento Suburban Water District's inverse condemnation suit against the federal government over levels of hexavalent chromium in drinking water caused by the operation of the McClellan Air Force Base, finding that the suit was premature (Sacramento Suburban Water District v. United States of America, No. 17-860 C, Fed. Clms., 2018 U.S. Claims 44).
TRENTON, N.J. - A New Jersey jury heard oral arguments Jan. 30 on whether a man's mesothelioma could have been caused by asbestos that contaminated the talc he used for years (Stephen Lanzo, et al. v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co., et al., No. L00738516, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.).
PHOENIX - An Arizona jury on Feb. 1 returned a defense verdict for CertainTeed Corp. after hearing earlier in the day that plaintiffs had not shown asbestos exposure from the company's pipe and that the case rests on pieces of evidence taken out of context, sources told Mealey Publications (Francisco Herrera, et al. v. CertainTeed Corp., et al., No. CV2014-009632, Ariz. Super., Maricopa Co.).
HONOLULU - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 1 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to five environmental groups, holding that a federal judge did not err when finding that the county of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui, No. 15-1744, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2582).
ST. LOUIS - An unopposed motion for summary judgment in an asbestosis case sufficiently shares common parties and claims with a subsequent mesothelioma case to warrant granting judgment under collateral estoppel, a federal judge in Missouri held Jan. 30 (Diane MacCormack, et al. v. The Adel Wiggins Group, et al., No. 16-414, E.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14579).
SAN DIEGO - Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries lack standing to assert counterclaims for response costs, defense costs and contingent liability, a federal judge in California ruled Jan. 30, finding that costs incurred in defending a lawsuit over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination do not constitute an injury-in-fact (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14996).
NEW YORK - Insufficient evidence links an asbestos floor tile company to New York for jurisdiction to exist in the state, a state justice held in an opinion posted Jan. 30, denying reargument (Richard S. Trumbull, et al. Adience Inc., et al., No. 190084/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 5069, 2018 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 276).
ATLANTA - A federal judge in Georgia presiding over consolidated suits concerning contaminated drinking water at two military bases in North Carolina on Jan. 29 denied a second motion to reconsider filed by a plaintiff seeking review of a ruling and warned the attorney about the filing of "borderline frivolous" motions (In re: Camp Lejeune, North Carolina Water Contamination Litigation, MDL 1845, Case No. 11-md-2218-TWT, N.D. Ga., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14462).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A landowner must address new evidence related to whether it had a duty under Louisiana law to protect a contractor from asbestos exposure, a Delaware judge held Jan. 30 (Sandra Kivell, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. N15C-07-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Jan. 29 banned a private equity firm from filing any future motions for summary judgment absent good cause and leave from the court after denying a motion seeking dismissal of Honeywell International Inc.'s counterclaim for indemnification for the cleanup of benzene and vinyl chloride contamination at a site in Muncie, Ind. (Hammond Kennedy Whitney & Co. Inc. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 16-cv-9808, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13917).
NEW YORK - In a coverage dispute over asbestos litigation costs, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 26 ordered an insurer and reinsurer to submit briefing concerning how a New York high court ruling applies to a reinsurance contract's per-occurrence liability cap (Global Reinsurance Corporation of America v. Century Indemnity Co., No. 15-2164, 2nd Cir.).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - Even though a toxicology expert's opinion on what level of pollutants causes health problems is contrary to federal and Kentucky law, it is still reliable enough to help a jury determine common-law liability, a Kentucky federal judge held Jan. 25 in declining to exclude the expert's testimony (Modern Holdings, LLC, et al. v. Corning, Inc., et al., No. 5:13-cv-00405, E.D. Ky., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11891).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Two restaurants affected by drinking water contamination litigation in West Virginia filed a brief in West Virginia federal court on Jan. 25, arguing that the West Virginia Hospitality and Travel Association (WVHTA) made no effort to determine if the restaurants were properly represented by counsel in decision to opt out of a $151 million class settlement, and now they want to be included (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A company agreed to take on workers' compensation claims when it purchased a facility, and a widow's lung cancer claim falls within the list of compensable claims, even though some doctors concluded that asbestos was not a cause of the disease, West Virginia's top court held Jan. 25 (Constellium Rolled Products Ravenswood v. Delores M. Ambro, et al., No. 17-0753, W.Va. Sup. App., 2018 W.Va. LEXIS 73).
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A Kentucky Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 26 affirmed summary judgment for a couple who owned a property and a couple who boarded their horse on a property in a premises liability suit in which a woman claimed that she was trampled by the horse after finding that the defendants did not owe the plaintiff a duty to protect her from the horse (Sarah Jane Groves, et al. v. John Woods Sr., et al., No. 2016-CA-001546, Ky. App., 2018 Ky. App. LEXIS 59).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A man's recollection of work on airplanes and limited recall of asbestos-product manufacturers are not enough to overcome summary judgment, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held in recommending summary judgment for six defendants (In re: Asbestos Litigation, John DeCastro, et al. v. Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings Inc., et al., No. 16-951, D. Del., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 12104).
NEW ORLEANS - Work constructing or maintaining continental shelf platforms, and resulting asbestos exposures, is enough to keep a case in federal court, a Louisiana federal judge held Jan. 24 in denying remand (Frederico Lopez v. McDermott Inc., et al., No. 17-8977, E.D. La.).
NEW YORK - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) on Jan. 24 sued EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt in a New York federal court, alleging that he violated federal law when he issued a directive barring qualified scientists from serving on the agency's advisory committees that provide recommendation on safe drinking water and other environmental issues (Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 18-613, S.D. N.Y.).
ATLANTA - A panel of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 25 found that a trial court did not err in an Engle progeny suit by denying a tobacco company's motion to reduce compensatory damages to the widower of a woman who died from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) (James Smith Sr. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14316, 11th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1916).
LANSING, Mich. - A divided panel of the Michigan Court of Appeals on Jan. 25 ruled that a lower court did not err when it determined that genuine issues of material fact exist in a lawsuit brought by residents who sued the state and local defendants alleging liability for lead contamination related to the Flint water crisis (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., No. 335555, Melissa Mays, et al. v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., No. 335725, Melissa Mays, et al. v. Governor Rick Snyder, et al., No. 335726, Mich. App., 2018 Mich. App. LEXIS 201).