NEW ORLEANS - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator provided a sufficient explanation for its denial of a rulemaking petition filed by environmental groups seeking standards for the amounts of phosphorus and nitrogen that can be discharged into the Mississippi River and waterways leading into the river, a federal judge in Louisiana ruled Dec. 15 (Gulf Restoration Network v. Lisa Jackson, Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 12-677, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173459).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Committee on Oversight and Governmental Reform on Dec. 16 concluded its investigation into the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., and recommended that the House Committee on Appropriations reconsider allocating more than $279.8 million to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for work on climate change so that money could be used to upgrade the nation's drinking water systems to protect people from lead.
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on Dec. 20 charged four people with felonies in connection with the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., saying all four were liable for conspiracy to commit false pretenses and two were guilty of committing misconduct and willful neglect of duty in office.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Because the state's workers' compensation system contemplates coverage for mesothelioma, the law's exclusivity provision bars a tort action against an employer, even where the disease arose outside the period for filing a claim, the Arkansas Supreme Court held Dec. 15 in a 4-3 opinion (Brenda Hendrix, et al. v. Alcoa Inc., No. CV-15-558, Ark. Sup.).
DETROIT - A divided panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 16 affirmed a lower court's ruling that the State of Michigan must provide bottled water to all homes in Flint without a properly functioning water filter, denying the appeal of the defendants, who contended that the relief ordered by the court was "overly broad" (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick Khouri, et al., No. 16-2628, 6th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22386).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Dec. 14 ruled that a subcontractor could file a fourth-party complaint against an environmental contractor for breach of contract in relation to an underlying lawsuit in which a worker seeks damages for exposure to toxic chemicals while working on an excavation project (Johnnie Parker v. John Moriarty & Associates v. Strittmatter Metro LLC v. Environmental Consultants and Contractors Inc., No. 15-1506, D. D.C.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172688).
NEW YORK - A New York federal bankruptcy judge on Dec. 14, at the request of the trustee for the Tronox Inc. Tort Claims Trust after being deluged with "future" tort claims, defined what a future tort claimant is and who can file claims against the trust in the "Future Tort Claims" category (In re: Tronox Incorporated, et al., No. 09-10156, S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.; 2016 Bankr. LEXIS 4274).
JACKSON, Miss. - A railroad cannot offset a $50,000 Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) asbestos verdict with monies collected from asbestos bankruptcy trusts, a divided Mississippi Court of Appeals held Dec. 13 (Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Bennie Oakes, deceased, by and through Clara Hagan, his representative, No. 2015-CA-00644-COA, Miss. App.).
HARRISONBURG, Va. - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Dec. 15 entered into a proposed agreement in Virginia federal court with the federal government, commonwealth of Virginia and its secretary of Natural Resources, in which the company agreed to spend $52 million to restore natural resources along 100 miles of river that were affected by mercury spills dating back to the 1930s and 1940s (United States of America, et al. v. E.I du Pont de Nemours and Company, No. 16-cv-0082, W.D. Va.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A federal judge in Rhode Island on Dec. 13 dismissed with prejudice a Massachusetts-based environmental advocacy group's lawsuit accusing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, its administrator and regional administrator of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by not requiring companies that discharge storm water into waterways of Rhode Island to obtain National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits, finding that the court lacked jurisdiction (Conservation Law Foundation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 15-165-ML, D. R.I.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172117).
ST. LOUIS - A man who has been diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) filed a lawsuit in Missouri federal court on Dec. 15, alleging that Monsanto Co. is liable for his injuries as the manufacturer of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup, which he claims is "defective, dangerous to human health, unfit and unsuitable to be marketed and sold in commerce, and lacked proper warnings and directions as to the dangers associated with its use" (Michael Dowling v. Monsanto Company, No. 16-1935, E.D. Mo.).
CINCINNATI - The First District Ohio Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed a trial court's ruling that an insured's liability for underlying asbestos claims arose from multiple occurrences because each individual's exposure to asbestos constitutes an occurrence (The William Powell Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Co., et al., No. C-160291, Ohio App., 1st Dist.; 2016 Ohio App. LEXIS 4982).
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - The complexity of asbestos cases requires that the workers' compensation commissioner have the power to grant provisional dismissals to "clear the room" and then reinstate claims as necessary, Connecticut's top court held in an opinion set for release on Dec. 20 (John Graham, et al. v. Olson Wood Associates Inc., et al., No. SC 19626, Conn. Sup.; 2016 Conn. LEXIS 371).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Dec. 12 filed a brief in the perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) injury multidistrict litigation, arguing that the presiding judge should deny the Plaintiffs' Steering Committee's (PSC) request for a trial structure in which one jury would hear evidence for multiple plaintiffs because consolidating multiple plaintiffs into a single trial "would have the profound and unfairly prejudicial effect to DuPont of validating the plaintiffs' claims of both liability and harm" (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 13 vacated a district court's order granting summary judgment to the federal government and remanded a suit brought by a Native American tribe over tobacco taxes with directions to dismiss the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the claims brought by the tribe are barred by the Anti-Injunction Act (Confederated Tribes And Bands of the Yakama Indian Nation v. Alcohol and Trade Tobacco Bureau, et al., No. 14-35165, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 22103).
OTTAWA - Canada will ban the use of asbestos products by 2018, Canadian Science Minister Kirsty Duncan announced Dec. 15.
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. and its affiliates on Dec. 12 filed a brief in California federal court, arguing that three lawsuits filed by three cities that allege damages caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in drinking water should be dismissed because there is an "irreconcilable gap" between the area where the alleged damage exists and the "damaged" city-owned storm water systems that are at the center of the lawsuit (City of San Jose v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15-03178; City of Oakland v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15-05152; and City of Berkeley v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 16-00071, N.D. Calif.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - Employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Dec. 9 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that they have provided "proper and uncontested evidence of jury bias" such that they cannot obtain a fair trial without a change of venue (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-636, W.D. Mich.).
DETROIT - The Michigan residents who sued the state of Michigan, some of its employees and a group of private companies in relation to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Dec. 13 filed a brief contending that their claim against one company in particular is valid because that company made a recommendation that the city double the ferric chloride in its water, which exacerbated the corrosion in the pipes delivering water to residents' homes (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK - ExxonMobil Oil Corp. on Dec. 9 filed a petition to compel arbitration in New York federal court, seeking an order that its excess insurer is required to arbitrate a coverage dispute arising out of underlying claims for groundwater contamination (ExxonMobil Oil Corp. v. TIG Insurance Co., No. 16-9527, S.D. N.Y.).
BOSTON - A woman who developed lung cancer after years of smoking filed suit in Massachusetts state court on Dec. 9, claiming that the cigarettes she smoked were unreasonably dangerous and should not have been sold (Marie Kovatsi v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 1684CV03779, Mass. Super., Suffolk Co.).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Dec. 9 said she will not render a verdict in a bench trial over untaxed cigarettes until the new year (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).
PHILADELPHIA - A company's failure to comply with a state court motion to compel does not warrant sanctions because the request is overly broad, but going forward, the company must produce documents relevant to product identification testimony in an asbestos case, a federal magistrate judge held Dec. 6 (William Ney, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., et al., No. 16-2408, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169371).
BUTTE, Mont. - A federal judge in Montana on Dec. 7 denied a motion filed by a newspaper publisher and an environmental group seeking to intervene in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit between the government and Atlantic Richfield Co. (ARCO) to gain access to confidential settlement information, finding that the request was untimely (United States of America v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. CV-89-39-BU-SEH, D. Mont.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 169364).