NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on May 23 approved a $39 million settlement deal under which ConocoPhillips, a defendant in the multidistrict litigation for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), will be released from the litigation (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, No. 00-1898, MDL 1358, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 08-0312, S.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS - Evidence presented at trial and past jury awards in mesothelioma cases support raising a jury's noneconomic damages award to $1.5 million from $500,000, a Louisiana appeals court held May 24 (Frank S. Romano Sr. and Lynn Rome Romano v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. 2016-CA-0954, La. App., 4th Cir., 2017 La. App. LEXIS 961).
SEATTLE - A couple alleging asbestos exposures in Canada lacks specific or general jurisdiction for a suit in Washington state against a defunct automobile parts seller, a federal judge held May 23 (Matthew Hodjera and Sylvia Hodjera v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 17-48, W.D. Wash.).
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Florida state court judge on May 23 declared a mistrial in an Engle progeny suit in which a woman claimed that a tobacco company hid the dangers of smoking from her husband, which led to his lung cancer and death, because the judge gave contradictory jury instructions that may confuse the jury (Lorraine Olson v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. 2008-CA-00396, Fla. 4th Jud. Cir., Duval Co.).
NEW YORK - An appeals panel in New York on May 23 reversed a lower court's ruling and concluded that tenants who sued their landlord alleging injuries from exposure to lead-based paint had made a valid request to compel discovery pertaining to potential lead violations in the entire building where their apartment was located (Z.D., by her mother and natural guardian Zaimah A. v. MP Management LLC, No. 3436N, 26043/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3989).
NEW ORLEANS - A man's claims that his employer used products originally supplied by a defendant and that his work in two facilities could have put him in contact with other asbestos-containing products from the supplier create enough of a case to overcome claims that the defendant was improperly joined to defeat complete diversity, a federal judge in Louisiana held in remanding a case on May 22 (Ronald Smith v. Georgia-Pacific LLC, et al., No. 17-4698, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77044).
PHILADELPHIA - A group of Pennsylvania residents on May 22 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court arguing that their groundwater contamination lawsuit against a group of chemical companies should not be dismissed because their claims are "proper" and are not barred by the doctrine of primary jurisdiction (Hanah Bates, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-4961, E.D. Pa.).
JACKSON, Miss. - A man's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) diagnosis started the clock on the statute of limitations and bars his silicosis claim against a respirator manufacturer, a divided Mississippi Supreme Court held May 18 in reversing a $14 million verdict (American Optical Corp. v. Estate of Robert Lee Rankin Sr., et al., No. 2015-CA-0166-SCT, Miss. Sup., 2017 Miss. LEXIS 190).
MIAMI - A Florida state court jury on May 19 awarded a woman who developed lung cancer from smoking $1.3 million in punitive damages, bringing the total award to $2.4 million in the suit where she claimed that the misinformation spread about the harmfulness and addictive nature of cigarettes by a tobacco company led to her lung cancer (Linda Martin v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 07-34267-CA, Fla. 11th Jud. Cir., Dade Co.).
NEW ORLEANS - Four industry specific methodologies (ISMs) for calculating claimant compensation under the Court Supervised Settlement Program for the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement are inconsistent with the agreement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 22, finding that the methods allow the claims administrator to remove revenue from the requested compensation period and spread it throughout noncompensation months (In re Deepwater Horizon: Lake Eugene Land & Development, Inc. et al. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 15-30377, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8915).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The engineering firms asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against residents of Flint, Mich., regarding liability for the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city on May 22 filed their reply brief contending that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' decision that a plaintiff may obtain remand under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) without evidence of class members' citizenship results in a circuit split that is "stark and wide" (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).
NEW YORK - A man's maritime asbestos suit improperly naming a successor as a defendant put an independent corporation that operates as a subsidiary of the named defendant on notice that it was being sued, a New York justice held in an opinion posted May 18 (Joseph J. Crandley v. Farrell Lines Inc., et al., No. 190033/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1836).
ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an en banc decision on May 18 ruled that federal law does not preempt smokers from filing negligence suits against tobacco companies and affirmed a $2.75 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8718).
MIAMI - A German automaker's contacts with Florida are insufficient grounds on which to exercise jurisdiction over the company, a Florida appeals court held May 17 (Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft d/b/a Volkswagen AG v. Carol Jones, et al., No. 2D15-5716, Fla. App., 2nd Dist.).
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not abuse his discretion when refusing to review the denial of a food grocer's claim for $2.4 million under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 18, holding that the claims administrator did not misapply or contradict the terms of the settlement by allowing program accountants to calculate the grocer's monthly profits and losses (Claimant ID 100217021 v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 16-30930, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8770).
TRENTON, N.J. - Evidence that a man worked with asbestos and that Union Carbide Corp. supplied more than 40,000 pounds of the mineral to the facility at which he worked are enough to establish exposure, even without a direct link, a New Jersey appeals court held in reversing judgment May 17 (Thomasina Fowler, et al. v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals Inc., et al., No. A-2300-15T4, N.J. Super., App. Div.).
PHILADELPHIA - Less than two months after having its fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, John Crane Inc. (JCI) filed the identical claims against one of the firms and its principals in Pennsylvania federal court May 15 (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).
DETROIT - Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder and a group of state employees on May 17 filed a brief in Michigan federal court in support of a renewed motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed against them by residents of Flint, Mich., related to the lead-contaminated water crisis, contending that they are immune from suit (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Discovery into underlying asbestos claims is not warranted in a class action alleging that a talc company destroyed evidence relevant to asbestos claims because the case involves the scheme to protect the company from liability, not the tort actions, plaintiffs told a federal judge in New Jersey on May 12 (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC, et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
CENTRE, Ala. - A municipal waterworks and sewer authority on May 15 filed a lawsuit against 3M Co., E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. and assorted other manufacturers in Alabama state court, alleging that they are liable for "negligent, willful, and wanton conduct" for the release of various toxic chemicals into the drinking water for Centre, Ala. (The Waterworks and Sewer Board of the Town of Centre v. 3M Company, et al., No. 13-CV-2017-900049.00, Ala. Cir., Cherokee Co.).
NEW YORK - Parties filing post-trial motions after a $7 million asbestos-tainted talc verdict in New York briefed a justice on May 15 over whether a February ruling involving the state's causation standard eliminates the ability to prove asbestos cases using cumulative exposure and visible dust evidence or whether it simply reiterates the existing framework (Claudine Discala, as administrator of the estate of Joan Robusto v. Charles B. Chrystal Company Inc., et al., No. 190413/2013, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
DENVER - A Colorado Supreme Court majority on May 15 determined that blunt wraps are a tobacco product and subject to taxation under Colorado's tobacco tax because they are a "kind" or "form" of tobacco and fall within "the plain language of 'tobacco products'" under Colorado's tobacco tax (Colorado Department of Revenue, et al. v. Creager Mercantile Co. Inc., No. 15SC266, Colo. Sup., 2017 Colo. LEXIS 376).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 12 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling ordering a shrimp-processing company to repay more than $1 million it received from the Deepwater Horizon Economic Claims Center (DHECC), finding that the company misrepresented that it was not a failed business in order to receive the payout (In re Deepwater Horizon: Crystal Seafood Company, Inc. v. Patrick A. Juneau, No. 16-30717, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8463).