WILMINGTON, Del. - A couple's evidence placing two defendants' products aboard U.S. Navy ships does not establish causation under maritime law, a federal magistrate judge held Sept. 16 in recommending that the court grant summary judgment (Jimmy R. Mitchell and Connie Mitchell v. Atwood & Morill Co., et al., No. 15-958, D. Del.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115210).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on Sept. 14 denied New York City and New York state's motion to impose sanctions on the attorneys representing United Parcel Service Inc. in a tobacco trafficking suit because the judge found that the city and state's failure to produce certain pieces of evidence during discovery was accidental (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - The Delaware Supreme Court on Sept. 12 determined that coverage for underlying asbestos bodily injury claims is owed if the bodily injury was sustained during the applicable policy periods of the excess insurance policies at issue (In re Viking Pump Inc. and Warren Pumps LLC Insurance Appeals, Nos. 518, 2014; 523, 2014; 525, 2014; 528, 2014, Del. Sup.; 2016 Del. LEXIS 474).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - After rejecting an expert's testimony that every exposure to asbestos substantially contributes to developing mesothelioma, a Florida appeals court on Sept. 14 granted a directed verdict to a gasket company and ordered a new trial for a tobacco company (Crane Co., R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., and Hollingsworth & Vose Co. v. Richard DeLisle and Aline DeLisle, Nos. 4D13-4351, 4D14-146, Fla. App., 4th Dist.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A mesothelioma sufferer has standing to pursue, and the court has jurisdiction over, claims that an employer and its insurer are not making timely payments under North Carolina's workers' compensation statutes, a federal judge in North Carolina held Sept. 9 (James Norman Richardson v. PCS Phosphate Company Inc., et al., No. 16-00068, W.D. N.C; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 122354).
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Rutgers Organics Corp. on Sept. 9 agreed to pay $18.75 million to clean up contamination at the Nease Superfund site in Salem, Ohio, and spend $500,000 to restore damaged natural resources, according to a lawsuit and consent decree filed in Ohio federal court (United States of America, et al. v. Rutgers Organics Corporation, No. 16-cv-02254, N.D. Ohio).
PHILADELPHIA - Evidence that a company would sometimes reuse original asbestos-containing insulation does not save claims based on exposure arising from turbines, but sufficient evidence exists to allow claims based on exposure from switchgears, a Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held Sept. 13 (In re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation, Linnie Frankenberger v. CBS Corp., No. 15-1988, 3rd Cir.).
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri jury hearing a take-home asbestos exposure case returned a defense verdict for the three remaining defendants on Sept. 12, sources told Mealey Publications (Donna Harrison, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of North America Inc., et al., No. 1522-CC09759-01, Mo. Cir., 22nd Jud. Cir.).
NEW YORK - A New York federal judge on Sept. 7 denied an insured's motion to dismiss an insurer's suit seeking a coverage declaration for underlying suits arising out of the insured's fracking operations because the policy at issue includes a forum selection clause designating New York as the forum to litigate any disputes (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, London v. New Dominion LLC, No. 16-5005, S.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121133).
PHILADELPHIA - A firefighter's failure to link occupation exposure to asbestos and other carcinogens to his prostate cancer dooms his workers' compensation claim, a Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court held Sept. 7 (Earl Hutz v. Workers' Compensation Appeal Board [City of Philadelphia], No. 2140 C.D. 2015, Pa. Cmwlth.; 2016 Pa. Commw. LEXIS 382).
TRENTON, N.J. - No evidence supports an allegation that a man joined two companies to an asbestos-tainted talc action simply to avoid federal court, a federal judge in New Jersey said Sept. 6 in remanding the case (Gilbert Paul Hernandez v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., No. 16-4038, D. N.J.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 119854).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on Sept. 7 ruled that three workers who were onboard an oyster harvesting boat that got caught on anchors left behind following response actions to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig can pursue claims for negligence under maritime law, finding that their claims are not preempted by the Clean Water Act (CWA) and not covered by the economic and property damages settlement (Brian Winkler, et al. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., No. 16-2715, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120541).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - An appellate panel in Florida on Sept. 7 affirmed a trial court's decision to grant a new trial to two tobacco companies in an Engle progeny suit because the plaintiff's lawyer made prejudicial statements to the jury in closing arguments (David Cohen v. Philip Morris USA Inc., et al., No. 4D13-2681, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).
HONOLULU - Mid Pac Petroleum LLC on Sept. 7 agreed to spend $432,000 to install required vapor pollution controls and comply with a volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution limit at its gasoline storage facility, as well as pay a $200,000 civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced.
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The State of Rhode Island filed a lawsuit on Sept. 6 against numerous oil refining and gasoline companies in Rhode Island federal court, alleging that they are liable for contaminating the state's groundwater with methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) (State of Rhode Island v. Alon Refining Krotz Springs, No. 16-495, D. R.I.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A Florida jury on Sept. 6 found in favor of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in an Engle progeny case in which a man claimed that his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) was caused by smoking cigarettes made by the tobacco company (John Hackimer, et al. v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2014-CA-010849, Fla. Jud. Cir. 15th, Palm Beach Co.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - The question of whether California law recognizes liability in take-home asbestos exposure cases or if such a duty is simply "a bridge too far" was before the California Supreme Court in oral arguments on Sept. 7 (Johnny Blaine Kesner v. Superior Court of California for the County of Alameda, No. S219534, Haver v. BNSF, No. S219919, Calif. Sup.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The State of Rhode Island on Sept. 6 filed a lawsuit in federal court against 34 companies that sold gasoline containing the additives methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and tert butyl alcohol (TBA), seeking to recover the costs for cleaning up groundwater contaminated by the chemical (State of Rhode Island v. Alon Refining Krotz Springs, et al., No. CA16-495, D. R.I.).
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Aug. 30 granted in part a motion for summary judgment filed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), ruling that the purchaser of a contaminated site can be held liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Pennsylvania's Hazardous Site Cleanup Act (HSCA) for response costs incurred after it took ownership of the property (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Trainer Custom Chemical LLC, et al., No. 15-1232, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116139).
SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when approving a permit that allowed Sierra Pacific Industries Inc. to build a biomass-burning power plant at its lumber mill in California, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 2, finding that the agency properly considered the company's design and purpose for burning biowaste material (Helping Hand Tools, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-72553, Center of Biological Diversity v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-72602, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16262).
TYLER, Texas - A woman's letter to a premises owner to investigate potential asbestos and mold contamination she claimed was sickening workers rises above suspicion and started the statute of limitations, a federal magistrate judge in Texas held Aug. 31 in granting summary judgment (Marci Jones v. Andy Anderson, et al., No. 14-366, E.D. Texas; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117069).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two New York state officials on Aug. 30 sent a letter to the director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, seeking reimbursement for some of the $25 million in costs already incurred, and the additional $50 million projected to be spent, in the remediation of groundwater that was contaminated with perfluorooctanoic acid (also known as C8) in Hoosick Falls, N.Y., because the agency was "counterproductive" in the process.
BUFFALO, N.Y. - All claims by the State of New York alleging that two Indian enterprises are running a contraband cigarette ring that illegally brings millions of dollars' worth of cigarettes into New York from Canada should be dismissed because the state fails to plausibly allege that the companies violated federal laws, a federal magistrate judge recommended Aug. 30 (State of New York v. Grand River Enterprises Six Nations, Ltd., et al., No. 14-cv-910, W.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 117801).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - Following the Florida Supreme Court decision in Hess v. Philip Morris USA, Inc. (175 So. 3d 687, 698 [Fla. 2015]) that held that defendants in Engle progeny suits may not rely on the Florida statute of repose as a defense, a Florida appellate panel on Aug. 31 reinstated $5 million in punitive damages to the family of a woman who died from lung cancer caused by smoking cigarettes (Philip Morris USA Inc., et al. v. Sharon Putney, Nos. 4D10-3606, 4D10-5244, Fla. App., 4th Dist.; 2016 Fla. App. LEXIS 13217).
NEW YORK - United Parcel Service Inc. on Aug. 29 asked a federal judge in New York to bar the State of New York and New York City from presenting the amount of damages they are seeking against it in an upcoming cigarette trafficking trial (The State of New York, et al. v. United Parcel Service Inc., No. 15-cv-1136, S.D. N.Y.).