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.).
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. filed an answer in the multidistrict litigation for Roundup in California federal court on Jan. 16 denying that exposure to the herbicide "did or could have caused" non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) as alleged by a specific plaintiff (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation [Kevin McNew v. Monsanto Co.], MDL No. 2741, No. 17-6858, N.D. Calif.).
RICHMOND, Va. - Adopting an asbestos plaintiff's timeliness argument in opposing removal requires the court to impermissibly determine a boilermaker's subjective knowledge, a federal judge in Maryland held in denying remand on Jan. 10 (Janya Sawyer, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 16-1530 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4991).
NEW YORK - New York's top court on Jan. 11 denied leave to appeal after a lower court found a manufacturer of brake-grinding machines had a duty to warn about the dangers the use of its machines with asbestos-containing brakes posed and affirmed a stipulated $9 million award (Walter Miller v. BMW of North America LLC, et al., No. 2017-1076, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 48).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 16 declined to address former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver's claim that a circuit court split exists over how to handle commingled funds in money-laundering cases and whether directing individuals to a law firm constitutes normal attorney conduct or is something more untoward (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 17-562, U.S. Sup.).
BATON ROUGE, La. - The clock for removing an asbestos case began with the receipt of the deposition transcript, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel said Jan. 11 in adopting a bright-line test (Curtis D. Morgan v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 17-30523, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 741).
ST. LOUIS - A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 11 denied a motion for reconsideration, saying the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion clarifying the standard for jurisdiction before he issued his own opinion, while also saying the newly minted precedent would not change the outcome (Willie Everett, et al. v. Aurora Pump Co., et al., No. 17-230, E.D. Mo.).
NEW YORK - The city of New York on Jan. 9 filed a lawsuit in federal court against five oil companies, claiming that the companies are responsible for climate change and seeking to recover damages to the city's infrastructure (City of New York v BP PLC, et al., No. 18-CV-00182, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not err when refusing to review the denial of a man's claim for compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 9, finding that a policy in the agreement excludes transactions that are not arm's length transactions as revenue (Claimant ID 100190818 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al, No. 17-30099, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A company's sale of tens of thousands of units of asbestos-containing drywall in Oklahoma easily surpasses the bar for jurisdiction in the state, a man told the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 8 (Murco Wall Products Inc. v. Michael D. Galier, No. 17-733, U.S. Sup.).