WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - In a two-page ruling issued April 25, Florida's Fourth District Court of Appeal - acting on remand by the Florida Supreme Court - reversed and remanded to the 17th Judicial Circuit Court for Broward County a decision that drastically reduced the amount of damages due to a lung cancer widower (Stephen Tognoli v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 4D16-224, Fla. App. 4th Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5745).
CHRISTIANSTED, Virgin Islands - A Virgin Island judge on April 24 admitted as evidence a map showing where asbestos products could be found in a refinery during a nearly two-decade-long stretch, but limited its use to trials featuring exposures occurring during that same time period (In re: Asbestos, Catalyst, and Silica Toxic Dust Exposure Litigation, No. SX-15-CV-096, Virgin Islands Super., St. Croix).
DALLAS - State-of-the-art knowledge in the 1960s could not have put an employer on notice that a man supervising work cutting asbestos-containing millboard might be at risk of mesothelioma, a helicopter company seeking to overturn a $9 million verdict told a Texas court April 24 (Bell Helicopter Textron Inc. v. Shirley Dickson, et al., No. 05-17-00979-CV, Texas App., 5th Dist.).
SEATTLE - Washington state asbestos plaintiffs should not have to face an autopsy of their decedents simply because they do not adhere to the particular religious or ethical viewpoint necessary to escape the procedure under existing rules, plaintiffs told a judge April 24 (In re: King County Asbestos Cases, Nos. 03-2-4855-5 SEA, 89-2-184-9 SEA, Wash. Super., King Co.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Two citizens' advocacy groups on April 24 filed a notice of intent to sue the city of Newark under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA), 42 U.S.C. 300j8(b)(1)(a), for failure to comply with regulations for the control of lead in drinking water, alleging that the city's levels are "among the highest" in the country.
MIAMI - A Florida judge abused his discretion in undoing a jury verdict that R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. was not liable for the lung cancer death of a Florida man, the Third District Florida Court of Appeal ruled April 25 (R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company v. Patsy Davis, No. 3D16-1994, Fla. App., 3rd Dist., 2018 Fla. App. LEXIS 5602).
PHILADELPHIA - Ship owners chose to litigate asbestos cases in an Ohio federal court, waiving any personal jurisdiction defense as a result, and then continually demonstrated that choice by repeatedly fighting transfer to any court outside the Northern District of Ohio, plaintiffs tell the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in a April 23 brief in urging it to reverse dismissal of their cases (William D. Schroeder, et al. v. Charles Kurz & Co. Inc., No. 17-3471, 3rd Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The Judicial Panel on Multi District Litigation (JPMDL) on April 23 transferred four more cases to the MDL established for cancer claims against Monsanto Co. related to its herbicide Roundup, bringing to 400 the number of cases in the MDL (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, N.D. Calif.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - At a status conference before a District of Columbia federal judge April 25, the government and three cigarette manufacturers announced that an agreement has been reached on corrective statements, signaling a potential end to a longstanding dispute over racketeering by the tobacco industry (United States, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 99-2496, D. D.C.).
PITTSBURGH - MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC and Ohio Gathering Co. LLC (collectively, MarkWest) on April 23 agreed to pay a $691,000 civil penalty and complete three environmental projects to resolve allegations from the federal government, state of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for excessive emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from two of its facilities, according to a complaint and consent decree filed in Pennsylvania federal court (United States, et al. v. MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC, et al., No. 18-cv-520, W.D. Pa.).
SAN FRANCISCO - While a couple did not comply with rules governing discovery in a dispute over a company's failure to disclose a corporate representative, their failure did not alter the outcome or prejudice a defunct shipbuilder's defense of an asbestos case, a federal judge in California held April 20 (John Newton Jones v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 17-5446, N.D. Calif.).
ST. LOUIS - An appellant's 2014 Minnesota state court complaint, later dismissed as time-barred, alleging that the state violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when it failed to share annual payments derived from a 1998 settlement with tobacco companies precludes her purported 2016 class action against the state, the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals affirmed April 20 (Sheila Foster v. Minnesota, No. 17-1177, 8th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 10136).
NEW YORK - A judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 23 issued a default judgment against a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for injuries, only to have it reversed, and imposed a constructive trust against those residents for the benefit of Chevron (Chevron Corporation v. Donziger, et al., No. 11 Civ. 691, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW YORK - An asbestos flooring manufacturer fails to eliminate the potential for an architect's bystander exposure or demonstrate that its products contained only the chrysotile fibers its expert claims could not cause mesothelioma, a New York justice held in an opinion posted April 19 (Tatjana Pogacnik, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co., et al., No. 190340/2015, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 20 denied CITGO Petroleum Corp.'s request for an en banc review of a Feb. 14 ruling in which it found that the company's objections to the imposition of an $81 million civil penalty under the Clean Water Act (CWA) for a 2006 oil spill lacked merit (United States of America v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., No. 16-30515, 5th Cir.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The government's selection of asbestos-containing insulation is enough for the federal officer defense to bar litigation against an insulation supplier, a California court held April 19 (Paula Tarjani, et al. v. Metalclad Insulation Corp., No. A140577, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2018 Cal. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2690).
PHILADELPHIA - Applying logic New Jersey's top court first espoused in an asbestos case finding a duty to prevent household exposures, a federal judge in Pennsylvania said Feb. 21 that the duty also extends past spouses to a girlfriend who frequently visited an employee's residence (Brenda Ann Schwartz v. Accuratus Corp., No. 12-6189, E.D. Pa., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27405).
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A group of residents filed a lawsuit in North Carolina federal court on Feb. 21 against E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co., alleging that the company is liable for discharging toxic substances into the community near DuPont's Fayetteville Works facility "with blatant disregard for the effects on the people living nearby" (James S. Dew, et al. v. E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Company, et al., No. 18-30, E.D. N.C.).
TRENTON, N.J. - A materials scientist told a New Jersey jury on Feb. 20 that it was his opinion that a man's mesothelioma arose from exposure to asbestos in talc products he used nearly daily for his entire life, but under cross-examination admitted that the government had not found any evidence of asbestos contamination in the product (Stephen Lanzo, et al. v. Cyprus Amex Minerals Co., et al., No. L00738516, N.J. Super., Middlesex Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A refinery company filed a notice of appeal on Feb. 20, indicating its intent to challenge an asbestos renal cancer verdict that left it liable for $133,072.23 (John M. Silva v. Albay Construction Co., et al., No. CGC-15-276384, Calif. Super., San Francisco Co.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Feb. 20 partially granted and partially denied a motion to dismiss a groundwater contamination lawsuit, ruling that the plaintiffs showed that the chemical company defendants have a duty to businesses within the area of contamination that have suffered economic losses as a result of the tainted aquifer (R.M. Bacon LLC v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., et al., No. 17-0441, N.D. N.Y.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26299).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Feb. 20 vacated and remanded a case in which a veteran argues that he was injured by exposure to Agent Orange, saying she "cannot understand" why the Board of Veterans Appeals determined that there was no credible evidence that the plaintiff was exposed to the herbicide (Marc Kessler v. David J. Shulkin, No. 16-3699, Vet. Clms.; 2018 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 181).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Feb. 20 denied the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's motion to stay proceedings in a suit over whether it failed to comply with its requirement under the Clean Water Act to approve or disapprove water quality standards submitted by the state, finding that nine environmental groups would be prejudiced by the delay (Riverkeeper Inc., et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-CV-4916, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26960).
JACKSON, Miss. - Nothing in the state's precedent or the Federal Employers' Liability Act (FELA) precludes setting off an asbestos verdict with amounts recovered from asbestos trusts, a divided Mississippi Supreme Court held Feb. 15 (Illinois Central Railroad Co. v. Bennie Oakes, et al., No. 2015-TS-00644, Miss. Sup., 2018 Miss. LEXIS 67).
BUFFALO, N.Y. - New York's top court on Feb. 15 agreed to hear a dispute over whether a contract involving coke oven batteries are products for the purposes of an asbestos products liability action or whether the construction project constituted services (In the matter of the Eighth Judicial District Asbestos Litigation, Donald J. Terwilliger, et al. v. Beazer East Inc., et al., No. APL-2018-00023, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 187).