SAN FRANCISCO - Environmental advocacy groups on Jan. 23 filed a brief in California federal court arguing that Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke's decision to amend the Methane Waste Prevention Rule, which pertains to methane contamination by hydraulic fracturing companies, is "the second illegal step" in his "three step plan to ensure that oil and gas companies never have to comply with the duly promulgated" rule (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Georgia on Jan. 23 denied motions for summary judgment filed by two companies arguing that 14 lawsuits for personal injuries and property damage caused by the operation of a pipe-making facility are time-barred, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) commencement date could be applied to the plaintiffs' claims (William Abner v. United States Pipe & Foundry Co., No. 15-cv-02040-KOB, N.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10146).
HAMMOND, Ind. - The city of Chicago on Jan. 24 sued U.S. Steel Corp. in an Indiana federal court, contending that it is liable for "multiple excessive discharges of toxic chemicals" into Lake Michigan, which is the source of drinking water for more than 5 million people and arguing that U.S. Steel has committed "repeated and significant" violations of its permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. 1251-1387 (City of Chicago v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 18-33, N.D. Ind.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - An Oklahoma appellate court's "indefensible" ruling in an asbestos case merely continues the state's disregard for U.S. Supreme Court precedent on the issue of jurisdiction, a company told the nation's top court Jan. 23 (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).
DELAND, Fla. - A jury in Florida on Jan. 24 found in favor of a tobacco company in an Engle progeny suit in which a woman claimed that her husband was addicted to cigarettes made by R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and that his addiction was the cause of his oral cavity cancer and death (Dorothy Mae Kelsey v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2007 33215 CICI, Fla. 7th Jud. Cir., Volusia Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVALABLE.
BOSTON - A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 24 affirmed the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the agency's approval of total maximum discharge limits (TMDLs) of stormwater for bodies of water in Rhode Island and Massachusetts did not trigger a duty to provide notice to potential dischargers (Conservation Law Foundation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 17-1166, 17-1354, 1st Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1734).
PITTSBURGH - Glass manufacturer PPG Industries Inc. on Jan. 22 filed a status report in a Pennsylvania federal court regarding its ongoing permitting activities pertaining to remedies for areas that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has determined are contaminated by PPG's manufacturing activities (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al. v. AS America Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.).
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - In an unpublished opinion issued Jan. 23, a panel of the Third District Michigan Court of Appeals ordered that a suit over a tobacco manufacturing license being revoked be remanded to a lower court for further proceedings because there is a still a question over whether a manufacturer without a license can be on a list of manufacturers who did not make a settlement with the state (Grand River Enterprises Six Nations LTD. v. Department of Treasury, et al., No. 335170, Mich. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Mich. App. LEXIS 168).
NEW ORLEANS - Claims that a shipyard mishandled the asbestos the U.S. Navy mandated it use allege negligence and escape removal under the federal office removal statute, a federal judge in Louisiana held Jan. 19 (Melancon v. Lamorak Ins. Co., No. 17-12367, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8765).
DOVER, Del. - Attorneys for two chemical companies and those representing a class of plaintiffs on Jan. 17 debated before the Delaware Supreme Court the question of whether a long-standing class action related to alleged injuries from chemical exposure on banana plantations was still active (Luis Antonio Aguilar Marquinez, et al., v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 231, 2017, Del. Sup.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The guardian ad litem in a class action lawsuit brought by West Virginia residents against a supplier of drinking water on Jan. 19 issued a report in which he said the $151 million settlement in the case is "fair and adequate" (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Viewed in favor of the nonmoving party, evidence supports the conclusion that Crane Co. knew of the dangers posed by asbestos and cooperated with the U.S. Navy to conceal that danger from serviceman, a widow told a Delaware federal judge on Jan. 19 in defending her civil conspiracy claim against the company (Marguerite MacQueen v. Warren Pumps LLC, et al., No. 13-831, D. Del., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206223).
BOSTON - A panel of Massachusetts Supreme Court judges on Jan. 19 reinstated a condominium association's lawsuit against a city that previously used the site as a landfill, finding that the association's lawsuit was timely (Grand Manor Condominium Association v. City of Lowell, No. SJC-12294, Mass. Sup., 2018 Mass. LEXIS 15).
SAN FRANCISCO - Hydraulic fracturing trade groups filed a brief in California federal court on Jan. 16 arguing that decision by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to amend the compliance deadlines for what is known as the methane waste prevention rule was valid. The groups oppose the motion for preliminary injunction sought by environmental advocacy groups on grounds that it is "an extraordinary remedy" (Sierra Club, et al. v. Ryan Zinke, et al., No. 17-7187, N.D. Calif.).
NEW YORK - A New York court on Jan. 18 affirmed imposition of an adverse jury instruction as a sanction for a company's "egregious" loss or destruction of between 37 and 77 boxes of potential evidence involving its asbestos-containing pipe (Richard Warren v. Amchem Products Inc., et al., No. 5493N 40000/88 190281/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 351).
LOS ANGELES - A judge erroneously required a company to prove that it had a federal defense, rather than just a colorable one, and improperly focused on the fact that asbestos-containing insulation was commercially available rather than the fact that it was applied to a military nuclear propulsion prototype, CBS Corp. told the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals Jan. 16 (Wayne Yocum, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 17-56344, 9th Cir.).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. - A federal judge in Indiana on Jan. 16 reduced by $500,000 the amount a company owner can recover for cleaning up a former steel manufacturing site and ruled that the former owner and operator is liable for 75 percent of past and future response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because it has not taken any steps to remediate the contamination and has refused the plaintiff company's requests for assistance (Valbruna Slater Steel Corporation, et al. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Company, et al., No. 10-cv-44-JD, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7063).
UTICA, N.Y. - In response to a reinsurer's motion for a new trial, an insurer argues in a Jan. 12 brief to a New York federal court that a jury had ample evidence in a "dozen witnesses and hundreds of exhibits" before reaching a $64 million verdict against a reinsurer over asbestos claims (Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. Fireman's Fund Insurance Co., No. 09-00853, N.D. N.Y.).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - With regard to settlements of underlying asbestos claims, two reinsurers breached their contract by failing to pay their share of losses, an insurer says in its Jan. 16 complaint filed in Connecticut federal court (Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. v. Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 18-00088, D. Conn.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Environmental Protection Agency on Jan. 15 filed a brief in California federal court seeking a protective order limiting review to the administrative record in a lawsuit brought by environmental advocacy groups that seeks to compel the agency to initiate a rule-making procedure to ban the introduction of "fluoridation chemicals" into drinking water on grounds that they cause brain damage (Food & Water Watch Inc., et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 17-2162, N.D. Calif.).
GREENVILLE, Miss. - Mississippi residents who sued a company alleging that it is liable for groundwater contamination filed a brief in Mississippi federal court on Jan. 16 seeking to compel the production of documents related to expert testimony (Joe E. Sledge, et al. v. Meritor Inc., et al., No. 16-CV-053, N.D. Miss.).
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A reinsurer breached its contract by refusing to pay its share of losses arising out of the settlement of asbestos claims, an insurer says in a Jan. 16 complaint filed in the Connecticut federal court (Travelers Casualty and Surety Co. v. Lamorak Insurance Co., No. 18-00087, D. Conn.).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A California appeals court on Jan. 12 denied a petition for rehearing, refusing to again visit its conclusion that a judge erred in excluding deposition testimony in the apparent belief that the witness needed to testify to directly witnessing asbestos exposures, according to the court's docket (Keith Turley and Joy Ann Turley v. Familian Corp., No. A149752, Calif. App., 1st Dist.).
KANSAS CITY, Kan. - Claims of asbestos exposure from pipe insulation aboard railway passenger cars do not clearly implicate federal statutes governing locomotives or safety appliances and avoid preemption, a federal judge in Kansas held Jan. 12 (Nancy Little, et al. v. The Budd Co., No. 16-4170, D. Kan., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5794).
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.).