HARRISBURG, Pa. - The majority of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court on July 18 denied an insurer's petition for review in an environmental contamination coverage dispute on the basis that the trial court's continuous trigger ruling was not a final ruling (Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association Insurance Co. v. Johnson Matthey Inc., et al., No. 24 MAP 2017, Pa. Sup., 2018 Pa. LEXIS 3670).
DETROIT - The owner of a steel mini mill on July 17 agreed to pay a $325,000 penalty and upgrade emissions controls at its facility to resolve allegations asserted by the federal government in a lawsuit simultaneously filed in Michigan federal court accusing the company of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) (United States v. Gerdau Specialty Steel N.A. Michigan, No. 18-cv-12228, E.D. Mich.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Holding manufacturers liable for negligently failing to warn about asbestos-containing third-party parts runs counter to traditional and maritime tort law and sound policy and invites more problems than it solves, a quartet of amicus curiae parties told the U.S. Supreme Court on July 19 (Air and Liquid Systems Corp, et al. v. Roberta G. DeVries, et al., No. 17-1104, U.S. Sup.).
ST. LOUIS - A membership-based emergency air transport's contract is ambiguous as to whether it may recover only from health insurance or is entitled to recovery from broader insurance as well, and its apparent attempts at collecting the proceeds of a tort settlement are enough to permit some breach of contract and injunctive relief claims against it by one of its members alive, a federal judge in Missouri held July 16 (Doris Ergle Lindsey Pratt v. Air Evac Lifeteam, et al., No. 17-3097, W.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117854).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on July 17 in which it estimated that 43 percent of school districts in the United States, which serve 35 million students, have drinking water that contains lead.
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A federal magistrate judge in Illinois on July 13 ordered a power company found liable for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) to produce communications between two of its testifying experts and their staff, finding that the information is not subject to blanket protection under the work product doctrine (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Illinois Power Resources LLC, No. 13-cv-1181, C.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116873).
TRENTON, N.J. - Two environmental groups on July 16 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court contending that their motion for a preliminary injunction should be granted against NL Industries Inc. related to claims that the company and others violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when they discharged pollutants in levels that exceeded federal permits and contaminated local groundwater. Moreover, the groups insist that the defendants' argument that the motion is not ripe because of plans to build a marina on the river should be rejected (Raritan Baykeeper, et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
GREEN BAY, Wis. - A federal judge in Wisconsin on July 12 refused to reconsider a Feb. 5 ruling denying in part a motion for partial summary judgment filed by the federal government and state of Wisconsin in a suit to recover more than $33 million in cleanup costs from the Lower Fox River Superfund site, maintaining that disputes exist as to whether the last nonsettling defendant company is entitled to a reduction in liability as well as the amount it must pay the plaintiffs (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116686).
ALBANY, N.Y. - The four companies that manufactured perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), including 3M Co. and E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., being sued by a couple who contends that the companies are liable for cancer and other injuries due to groundwater contamination filed separate answers on July 13, denying the allegations and contending that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted (Kenneth Wickenden, et al. v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., et al., No. 17-1056, N.D. N.Y.).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - A Florida jury in an Engle progeny case rendered a punitive damages verdict of $2.9 million on July 16, adding to the $3 million it already awarded a lung cancer widower on June 30 (Myron Kaplan v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company, et al., No. 08-80000 (19), Fla. Cir., Broward Co., 17th Jud. Dist.).
MILWAUKEE - A federal judge in Wisconsin on July 13 denied a motion to dismiss a group of lead-paint injury lawsuits as they pertain to the Sherwin-Williams Co., concluding that the plaintiffs did not need to establish a prerequisite need for applying the risk contribution theory with regard to Sherwin-Williams specifically (Glenn Burton v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0303, E.D. Wis.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The Fourth District Florida Court of Appeal on July 11 directed a trial court to reinstate the full $37.5 million award rendered by jurors following a third trial in an Engle progeny case against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., pursuant to the Florida Supreme Court's ruling in Schoeff v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. v. Jan Grossman, No. 4D13-3949, Fla. App., 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 9809).
DENVER - The plaintiffs in the lead case against 3M Co. and other chemical manufacturers in Colorado federal court on July 11 filed a brief arguing that the defendants' motion to exclude the opinions of their expert in the groundwater contamination case related to aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) should be denied because the expert's opinions are "relevant and reliable" (David Bell, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-2351, D. Colo.).
TRENTON, N.J. - Insufficient evidence of exposure to asbestos or its role in a man's lung cancer supports a widow's workers' compensation claim, a New Jersey appeals court held Jul 11 (Michelle Lomet, et al. v. Lawes Coal Co., No. A-1169-16T1, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2018 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1635).
ST. LOUIS - A St. Louis jury awarded 22 women $4.69 billion in damages from Johnson & Johnson after concluding that the company's baby powder contained asbestos and caused their ovarian cancer. The July 12 award consists of $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in other damages, sources told Mealey's Publications (Gail Ingham, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 1522-CC-10417, Mo. Cir., St. Louis Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
NEW YORK - A man's testimony recalling the presence of a defendant at industrial worksites overcomes a boiler company's protestations that its products never contained tubes and looked nothing like the ones described by the decedent, a New York justice held in an opinion posted July 11 (Barbara Reha, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190427/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2018 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2831).
ORLANDO, Fla. - A raw talc supplier's one month of sales to a cosmetic talcum powder manufacturer and its registration to do business in Florida do not create sufficient contacts for personal jurisdiction, a federal judge held July 10 (Susan Stevenson v. Cyprus Amax Minerals Co., et al., No. 17-417, M.D. Fla., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114193).
NEW YORK - Nothing in a sale agreement or the business operations of three talc companies suggests ignoring New York's aversion to successor liability and finding two liable for the asbestos claims of the third, a New York justice held in an opinion posted July 10 (Steven Andrew Cohen, et al. v. American Biltrite Inc., et al., No. 190044/2016, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2018 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2840)
NEW YORK - A New York appellate panel on July 10 suspended the license to practice law for Steven R. Donziger, the attorney who represented a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against the company in a court in Ecuador for injuries only to have it reversed (In the Matter of Steven R. Donziger: Attorney Grievance Committee for the First Judicial Department, Petitioner, Steven R. Donziger, Respondent, No. M-5635, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A federal judge in California on July 10 ruled that the experts for plaintiffs who have sued Monsanto Co. in multidistrict litigation related to the herbicide Roundup should be admitted because the plaintiffs have presented evidence from which a reasonable jury could conclude that glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, can cause non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) at "human-relevant doses" (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, N.D. Calif.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Two Stanley Black & Decker Inc. subsidiaries on July 9 agreed to spend approximately $100 million to clean up dioxin contamination in sediment and soil at a Rhode Island Superfund site and along the Woonasquatucket River, according to a consent decree filed in Rhode Island federal court (Emhart Industries Inc. v. U.S. Department of the Air Force, et al., No. 11-cv-23, D. R.I.).
BAY CITY, Mich. - A federal judge in Michigan on July 10 ruled that an amended complaint filed by the owners of 12 refineries that were in operation during World War II that are seeking to recover response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) sufficiently describes what actions the plaintiff companies took to remediate contamination at the sites (MRP Properties LLC, et al. v. United States, No. 17-cv-11174, E.D. Mich., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114099).
PARK CITY, Utah - A federal judge in Utah on July 9 granted the federal government's motion for partial summary judgment in a suit brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that the statute allows the government to seek financial information from a mining company and its affiliates in order to determine a proper cleanup plan (United States v. United Park City Mines, et al., No. 17-cv-482-DB, D. Utah, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114039).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - In a July 5 order, a District of Columbia federal judge wrote that the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates v. Becerra reinforces a conclusion that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration should be enjoined from enforcing its "Deeming" and "User Fee" rules until plaintiffs challenging the rules receive "a full hearing before an appellate court" (Cigar Association of America Inc., et al. v. U.S. Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 16-1460, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111669)
BALTIMORE - A judge properly excluded untimely testimony that an asbestos defendant appears to have deliberately concealed, and the resulting $8 million verdict is supported by sufficient evidence, a Maryland appeals court held July 6 (Lloyd E. Mitchell Inc. v. Patrick Rossello, No. 1191 September Term, 2016, Md. Sp. App., 2018 Md. App. LEXIS 666).