LexisNexis® Legal Newsroom
Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Attorney: Chevron Offers 'No Credible Argument' For Cost Tax In Lago Agrio Case

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 Sept. 12 filed a letter with the presiding judge in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, arguing that the company offers "no credible argument" for its contention that the company is entitled to the taxation of costs in the litigation (Chevron Corporation v. Donziger, et al., Case No. 11 Civ. 691, S.D. N.Y.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Evidence Would 'Inflame' Jury In Cancer Case, Company Says, Should Be Excluded

ASHEVILLE, N.C. - A company being sued for allegedly contaminating a North Carolina man's groundwater on Sept. 11 filed a brief in North Carolina federal court contending that the district court should exclude evidence regarding contamination on the east side of the company's former facility, evidence of the presence of chemicals other than benzene and evidence of alleged negligence because it would "inflame" the jury (Kent Stahle v. CTS Corporation, No. 14-48, W.D. N.C.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Ohio Court To Define 'Smoker,' Medical Report Status In Asbestos-Lung Cancer Case

COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio Supreme Court on Sept. 13 agreed to decide whether the state requires a medical expert to weigh in on whether a lung cancer plaintiff qualifies as a "smoker" or whether the law simply requires those already recognized as smokers to submit an opinion regarding the role asbestos played in their disease (Bobby Turner, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 17-0004, Ohio Sup.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Split 6th Circuit Panel: Flint Water Crisis Lawsuit Belongs In State Court

CINCINNATI - A split panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 11 affirmed a district court's ruling and held that a lawsuit brought by residents of Flint, Mich., against the city and state environmental quality employees relating to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in the city belongs in state court (Melissa Mays, et al. v. City of Flint, Mich., et al., No. 16-2484, 6th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17502).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Allows Monsanto To Add Counterclaims In PCB Contamination Suit

SEATTLE - Monsanto Co.'s counterclaim for unjust enrichment against the city of Seattle over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the Lower Duwamish River is not futile, a federal judge in Washington ruled Sept. 6 in granting the defendant company's motion to amend its answer and counterclaims (City of Seattle v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. C16-107RSL, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144382).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Court Affirms Exclusion Of Asbestos Product ID Testimony As Sanction

CLEVELAND - A trial judge properly excluded deposition testimony as a sanction for failing to update interrogatories to indicate potential drywall compound exposures the witnesses testified to in asbestos bankruptcy claim forms, an Ohio appeals court held Sept. 7 (Paul Heaton, et al. v. Ford Motor Co., et al., No. 104636, Ohio App., 8th Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 3800).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Refuses To Conduct 'Autopsy' Of Settlement Over Pipeline Spill

SALT LAKE CITY - A federal judge in Utah on Sept. 6 granted a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Pacificorp, doing business as Rocky Mountain Power, that precludes Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) from obtaining a portion of a settlement it paid to homeowners affected by a 2010 oil spill, finding that such relief would require the judge to perform an "autopsy" of the settlement (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144260).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Expert Qualified To Testify On Cleanup Costs' Reasonableness, Judge Says

SALT LAKE CITY - An engineer can proffer testimony that Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) spent approximately $4.4 million to $5.6 million in unnecessary costs when responding to two oil spills in 2010, a federal judge in Utah ruled Sept. 7, finding that he is qualified and that the methodology underlying his opinion is reliable (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Says Chemical Injury Plaintiff Did Not Allege His Water Was Tainted

ALBANY, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 dismissed a chemical injury lawsuit on grounds that the plaintiff failed to allege that his injuries were caused by contamination to his personal water supply (James Donavan v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., No. 16-294, N.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143198).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Attorney: Revive Case Seeking To Unseal Asbestos Client-Coaching Deposition

DALLAS - A motion seeking to unseal Russell Budd's 1997 deposition involving a memo allegedly showing his law firm coaching clients for their own depositions should proceed to a ruling on the merits, an attorney told a Texas appeals court on Sept. 5 (Christine Cole Biederman v. Beverly Jean Brown, et al., No. 01-07-00263-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).

Mealey's Labor & Employment - Former Administrator Cannot Sue As Individual Under ERISA, 7th Circuit Affirms

CHICAGO - The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 5 affirmed a lower federal court's dismissal of a former pension plan administrator's claim under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act because he is suing as a private individual and not a fiduciary, but vacated the dismissal of his state law claim against the chairman of the pension plan's administration committee, finding that the lower court erred in declining to exercise jurisdiction over the tort claim (Roberto Trujillo v. American Bar Association, et al., No. 16-3612, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 17116).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge Suspends Clean Water Act Trial To Wait For 9th Circuit Ruling

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Sept. 5 suspended the upcoming trial date for a lawsuit accusing a scrap metal company of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), agreeing with the defendants that the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' upcoming ruling in U.S. v. Robertson could alter the standard for what constitutes a navigable waterway of the United States (California Sportfishing Protection Alliance v. Chico Scrap Metal Inc., et al., No. 10-cv-01207-GEB-AC, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 143342).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Alabama Court Reinstates Class Action Over Asbestos Attorneys' Compensation

MONTGOMERY, Ala. - A judge improperly concluded that ambiguity in a contract provision governing how hundreds of asbestos plaintiffs would compensate their counsel overcame class action claims arising from the attorneys' imposition of an additional fee, the Alabama Supreme Court held Sept. 1 in once again reinstating the case (Mary Hall, et al. v. Environmental Litigation Group, P.C., No. 1151077, Ala. Sup., 2017 Ala. LEXIS 81).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Florida Court Allows Cumulative Exposure Opinion, Affirms $9M Asbestos Verdict

MIAMI - A court properly admitted an expert's testimony that cumulative asbestos exposures were sufficient to cause a man's mesothelioma, a Florida appeals court held Sept. 6 in differentiating the testimony from the opinion that every exposure leads to disease and affirming a $9 million verdict (Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., et al. v. Rosa-Maria Britt, et al., No. 3D16-2583, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2017 Fla. App. LEXIS 12834).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Magistrate Judge: Bare Metal Defense Frees 5 Companies From Asbestos Case

WILMINGTON, Del. - A couple produces some evidence of exposure to products from named defendants but no evidence the products contained asbestos or that the work in question released asbestos, a federal magistrate judge in Delaware held Aug. 31 in applying the bare metal defense and recommending summary judgment for five companies (In re: Asbestos Litigation, Marilyn Charlevoix, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 15-726, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 140328).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Cleanup Company's Claims Against Gas Station Barred By Arbitration, Judge Says

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. - An environmental remediation company's counterclaims against the owner of a gas station for breach of a fixed price remediation agreement (FPA) were dismissed by a federal judge in New York on Sept. 5 after the judge ruled that the claims were previously litigated during an arbitration proceeding (Plumbing Supply, LLC v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. 14 CV 3674, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 142747).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Asbestos-Talc Evidence Destruction Spat Parties Continue Throwing Barbs

NEWARK, N.J. - Former asbestos plaintiffs adopted a frivolous interpretation of a discovery ruling in an effort to avoid required production, a talc company told a New Jersey federal judge on Aug. 30. In a Sept. 1 letter, the plaintiffs, who claim that they were defrauded into settling claims for far less than they were worth after the company used a carefully crafted record retention policy to destroy evidence of asbestos contamination of its talc, lamented that the defendant brought the judge into the dispute before allowing the parties or special discovery master to resolve it (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Virginia Top Court Applies 'Risk Of Harm' Analysis To FELA Asbestos Settlement

ROANOKE, Va. - A release precluding liability for future asbestos injuries contemplated by the parties does not violate Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA), the Virginia Supreme Court held Aug. 31 in applying the risk-of-harm standard (Alan Barry Cole, et al. v. Norfolk Southern Railway Co., No. 161163, Va. Sup., 2017 Va. LEXIS 109).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Judge: Tire Companies Owe $11M For Selling Contaminated Buildings

DES MOINES, Iowa - A federal judge in Iowa on Sept. 5 ruled that two tire companies are liable for $11 million under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for selling buildings on a Superfund site in the state that were contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (United States of America v. Dico, Inc., et al., No. 10-cv-503, S.D. Iowa).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Pennsylvania Appeals Panel: Reinsurer Owes $7.9M To Insurers On Asbestos Claims

HARRISBURG, Pa. - A reinsurer owes $7.9 million to two insurers for asbestos claims, a Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled Sept. 1, rejecting the reinsurer's argument that it already paid out $11 million under specific limits of the policies (Century Indemnity Co. v. OneBeacon Insurance Co., No. 1280 EDA 2016, Pa. Super., 2017 Pa. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3300).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Texas Court: Employer Liable For Asbestos Exposure, But Economic Award Too High

DALLAS - Generalized knowledge of the risk asbestos posed is sufficient to show that an employer acted with gross negligence in exposing an individual, a divided Texas appeals court held Aug. 30 in affirming a verdict but reducing the economic damages award (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 05-15-00001-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist., 2017 Tex. App. LEXIS 8382).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Affidavit Doesn't Establish Timeliness Of Asbestos Suit, Delaware Judge Says

WILMINGTON, Del. - An unsigned and unnotarized affidavit stating that a woman didn't learn of the potential asbestos connection to lung cancer until after her attorneys filed suit is insufficient evidence on which to deny summary judgment under the statute of limitations, a Delaware judge held Aug. 29 (Sherrie Bagwell, et al. v. BorgWarner Morse Tec LLC, et al., No. N14C-06-023 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Citing U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Allows Discovery On Jurisdiction In Asbestos Case

WILMINGTON, Del. - Citing the recent changes to how courts handle jurisdiction wrought by the U.S. Supreme Court's Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California ruling, a Delaware judge on Aug. 30 granted an asbestos plaintiff additional time to conduct discovery into the issue of personal jurisdiction over a Michigan company (Derry L. Middleton, et al. v. McCord Corp., et al., No. N14C-05-261 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - Landowners Not Liable For Asbestos Not Inherent To Premises, Judge Says

WILMINGTON, Del. - Landowners have a duty under Louisiana law to protect contractors only from hazards of which they have knowledge and that are inherent to their property, a Delaware judge held in granting summary judgment to three premises defendants Aug. 30 (Sandra Kivell, et al. v. Murphy Oil USA Inc., et al., No. N15C-07-093 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).

Mealey's Toxic Tort/Environmental - 3rd Circuit Affirms Asbestos Attorney's Overbilling Restitution Sentence

PHILADELPHIA - A lawyer who pleaded guilty to inserting his firm's clients as defendants and then billing them as if he represented them in the cases cannot contest a portion of his restitution sentence he claims was legitimately spent, the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held Aug. 29 (United States v. Arobert C. Tonagbanua, No. 17-1815, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 16506).