LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Supreme Court Denies Petition For Review In Engle Progeny Suit

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Supreme Court on Dec. 4, without explanation, denied an Engle progeny plaintiff's petition for review in appealing a lower court's decision to vacate a $16.8 million verdict and grant a new trial in a tobacco suit (Cynthia Robinson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. SC17-1130, Fla. Sup., 2017 Fla. LEXIS 2437).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Dismisses 3 Companies From CERCLA Suit, Finds No Evidence Of Arranging

DAYTON, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Nov. 30 awarded summary judgment to three defendant companies in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit after finding that there was no sufficient evidence showing that they arranged for the disposal of hazardous waste at a landfill (Hobart Corporation, et al. v. The Dayton Power & Light Co., et al., No. 13-cv-115, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197856).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Michigan Residents Sue GM In State Court For Fraud Related To Tainted Groundwater

HOWELL, Mich. - Michigan residents sued General Motors LLC in state court on Nov. 30, alleging that the company contaminated their drinking water by releasing hazardous materials into the groundwater at GM's Milford Proving Grounds (MPG) facility (Terry Moore, et al. v. General Motors LLC, No. N/A, Mich. Cir., Livingston Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - N.Y. Justice Rejects Power Company's Reargument Of Asbestos Indemnity Claim

NEW YORK - A power company's contracts with its contractors requires indemnification only after the establishment of liability, a New York justice held in denying reargument in an asbestos case in an opinion posted Nov. 30 (In re New York City Asbestos Litigation Michael Koulermos and Marian Koulermos v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190406/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4530).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Washington Supreme Court Won't Be Asked To Rule On City's Opioid Suit

SEATTLE - A Washington federal judge on Nov. 30 denied a motion by opioid maker Purdue Pharma LP to certify to the state Supreme Court its challenge of a city's use of the municipal cost-recovery rule for costs that the defendant says are not a cognizable tort injury (City of Everett v. Purdue Pharma L.P., et al., No. 17-209, W.D. Wash., Seattle Div.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Flint Water Crisis Defendant Says Case Against It Fails For Lack Of Jurisdiction

DETROIT - One of the defendants sued in connection with the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on Dec. 1 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that it should be dismissed from the lawsuit brought by a class of residents for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Coverage Triggered By Exposure To Asbestos, New York Justice Determines

NEW YORK - Coverage for underlying asbestos claims arising out of the construction of the original World Trade Center towers is triggered if the underlying claims allege that the exposure occurred during the construction of the towers even if the disease did not develop until years later, a New York County Supreme Court justice said Nov. 29, noting that the policy at issue provides coverage for any injury arising out of the construction project (American Home Assurance Co. v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, et al., No. No. 651096/2012, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Companies Seek Rehearing Of Lead Paint Ruling, Say They Lacked Knowledge Of Harm

SAN FRANCISCO - Three companies that formerly made lead-based paint on Nov. 29 filed separate briefs in a California appeals court seeking rehearing of a ruling that reversed and remanded a $1.15 billion verdict against them but that also called for the trial court to recalculate the amount of the award. The companies contend that rehearing is needed because the court actually misstated or omitted material facts when it found that there was "substantial evidence" that the companies promoted paints containing white lead pigments for interior residential use (The People v. ConAgra Grocery Products Company, et al., No. H040880, Calif. App., 6th Dist.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Asbestos Plaintiff Says County's Workers' Comp Brief Untimely, Unconvincing

HOUSTON - A Texas county's post-argument submission is improper and fails to prove that it provided workers' compensation benefits for a judge employed in its courthouse, a woman pursuing an asbestos action on behalf of the former judge told a Texas appeals court on Nov. 22 (Jefferson County, Texas v. Ellarene Farris, et al., No. 01-17-00493-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Montana Supreme Court Creates Special Asbestos Docket

HELENA, Mont. - The Montana Supreme Court on Nov. 28 ordered the creation of an asbestos claims court to oversee pretrial proceedings in the state's more than 540 asbestos cases (In re: Asbestos Litigation, No. AC 17-0694, Mont. Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Groups: Pipeline For Drinking Water 'Illegal'; Drinking Water Contains Carcinogens

LOS ANGELES - Two environmental advocacy groups on Nov. 28 sued the Trump administration in California federal court, alleging that it has illegally enabled a private company to construct a pipeline through a national monument and other public land, which will deplete a desert aquifer and harm human health by providing water to urban areas that contains hexavalent chromium (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Management, et al., No. 17-08587, C.D. Calif.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Constitutionality Of Inter Partes Review Procedure Debated By Supreme Court

WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a case that could upend the landscape for patent litigants globally, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral arguments Nov. 27 in a dispute over the constitutionality of inter partes review (IPR) proceedings by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO's) Patent Trial and Appeal Board (Oil States Energy Services LLC v. Greene's Energy Group LLC, No. 16-712, U.S. Sup.).

Mealey's PI/Product Liability - Judge: No Coverage For Claims Alleging HIV Infection From Adult Film Work

OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal judge on Nov. 27 found that the State Insurance Compensation Fund has no duty to defend against underlying claims that adult film stars became infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while they were performing in films that were being produced by the insured, finding that the non-intentional tort claims are preempted by the exclusive remedy provision of workers' compensation and the intentional tort claims are barred under a policy exclusion (Seneca Insurance Company Inc. v. Cybernet Entertainment LLC, et al., No. 16-06554, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194441).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Finds Jurisdiction Lacking In Asbestos Bowling-Shoe Product Case

GREENSBORO, N.C. - A distributor's sale of a bowling ball product in North Carolina does not create jurisdiction absent evidence that the manufacturer specifically targeted the state, a North Carolina federal judge held Nov. 21 (Vickie Young, et al. v. American Talc Co., et al., No. 13-864, M.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192356).

Mealey's Insurance - Judge: No Coverage For Claims Alleging HIV Infection From Adult Film Work

OAKLAND, Calif. - A California federal judge on Nov. 27 found that the State Insurance Compensation Fund has no duty to defend against underlying claims that adult film stars became infected with the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while they were performing in films that were being produced by the insured, finding that the non-intentional tort claims are preempted by the exclusive remedy provision of workers' compensation and the intentional tort claims are barred under a policy exclusion (Seneca Insurance Company Inc. v. Cybernet Entertainment LLC, et al., No. 16-06554, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 194441).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Action Arose At Asbestos Exposure, Before Statute Of Repose, Maryland Court Told

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - The state's statute of repose acts prospectively and does not cover exposures occurring before enactment, and its "improvement to real property" language cannot possibly be interpreted as covering the asbestos dust in a man's lungs, a woman told Maryland's top court on Nov. 21. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1 (June Diane Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 41 September Term, 2017, Md. App.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - City Sufficiently States Public Nuisance Claim For PCB Contamination, Judge Says

SAN DIEGO - The city of San Diego has standing to bring a nonrepresentative public nuisance claim against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, a federal judge in California ruled Nov. 22, holding that the city sufficiently alleged that its municipal storm water system has been adversely affected by the presence of the chemical (City of San Diego, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193570).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Maryland Court Finds Circumstantial Evidence Against Contractors Lacking

BALTIMORE - Testimony that a man worked on "all of" the vessels at a shipyard cannot realistically mean he worked on every ship and, even when combined with evidence of two insulation contractors' presence at the facility, is not enough to establish exposure to asbestos from their work, a Maryland appeals court held Nov. 20 (Kathryn A. Davenport, et al. v. MCIC Inc., et al., No. 1204 September Term, 2016, Md. Spec. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 1162).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Judge Declares Mistrial In Engle Progeny Suit Against R.J. Reynolds

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A jury in an Engle progeny suit was unable to come to a verdict in Florida state court and a mistrial was granted in a tobacco suit in which a woman claimed that her mother's lung cancer and death were caused by her addiction to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (Julie Adamson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2016CA008532, Fla. 15th Jud. Cir., Palm Beach Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Company Can Present Evidence On Drainage From Mining Tailings, Judge Rules

ROANOKE, Va. - A plaintiff company seeking contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) from an adjacent property owner can present testimony from an expert about drainage from mining tailings on the defendant's property, a federal judge in Virginia ruled Nov. 22, finding that the information is relevant (Dixon Lumber Co., Inc. v. Austinville Limestone Co., Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193189).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Amici: Severe Departure From Delaware Asbestos Law In Case Against Manufacturers

WILMINGTON, Del. - A court erred "in the most fundamental sense" in applying the wrong standard and relieving manufacturers of liability for take-home asbestos exposures simply because they were more distant from the exposed individual than the premises owner, amici curiae tell Delaware's top court in a Nov. 20 brief (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Georgia Southern University Advanced Development Center, et al., No. 305, 2017, Del. Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Company: Oklahoma Courts Ignored Jurisdiction Precedent In $6M Asbestos Case

WASHINGTON, D.C. - A man awarded $6 million for his mesothelioma on Nov. 20 waived his right to respond to a drywall materials' U.S. Supreme Court petition seeking to vacate the verdict (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Groundwater Class Action Should Stay In Federal Court, Magistrate Judge Says

CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A magistrate judge in New York federal court on Nov. 20 issued a report and recommendation denying remand of a groundwater contamination class action to state court, determining that the plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that a sufficient number of class members are citizens of the state of New York (Isaac Green, et al. v. The 3M Company, et al., No. 17-2566, E.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192795).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Flint Water Crisis Defendants Want Manslaughter Charges Stricken From Complaint

DETROIT - Two employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Nov. 21 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that the district court should strike allegations of involuntary manslaughter and order sanctions against the class of residents suing them in connection with the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city of Flint, Mich. (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Resolves Motions To Exclude Testimony, Evidence In Reinsurer, Insurer Dispute

UTICA, N.Y. - In a dispute over a $325 million settlement of asbestos claims, a New York federal judge on Nov. 16 addressed a number of motions filed by an insurer and a reinsurer to preclude expert testimony and certain arguments from trial (Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., No. 09-00853, N.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 189911).