SEATTLE - A federal judge in Washington on July 25 ruled that environmental groups that successfully resolved a lawsuit accusing BNSF Railway Co. of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by allowing coal dust from railcars to migrate into waterways could recover $298,331.14 in costs but limited the amount the groups could recover for fees their attorneys charged for block billing and for litigating claims against non-BSNF parties (Sierra Club, et al. v. BNSF Railway Company, No. C13-0967-JCC, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116442).
BENNINGTON, Vt. - The state of Vermont and the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources (ANR) on July 24 reached a consent decree with a plastics manufacturer in which the parties have agreed to drop a groundwater contamination lawsuit in exchange for the company's continued remediation efforts, which will involve the company providing $4,357,853.87 for remediation costs (State of Vermont Agency of Natural Resources v, Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, No. N/A, Vt. Super., Bennington Unit).
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal judge in Ohio presiding over the multidistrict litigation brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on July 24 entered a pretrial order approving modifications sought by the plaintiffs that increase the amount of money the company will pay into a qualified settlement fund (QSF) (In re: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
TAMPA, Fla. - A Florida jury on July 25 found in favor of Philip Morris USA Inc. after finding that a man who died from lung cancer was not addicted to cigarettes made by Philip Morris and that his lung cancer and death was not caused by an addiction to those cigarettes (Judith Pearson v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 2007-CA-017823, Fla. 13th Jud. Cir. Hillsborough Co.).
POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. - General Motors LLC cannot sue Johns-Manville Corp.'s asbestos personal injury trust in Ohio state court to recover money for payments made to a widow because GM's claim for contribution is barred by the decades-old injunction issued in Johns-Manville's Chapter 11 case, a New York federal bankruptcy judge held July 24 (In re Johns-Manville Corporation, et al., No. 82-11656 [General Motors LLC v. Manville Personal Injury Settlement Trust, et al., No. 1:17-ap-1032], S.D. N.Y. Bkcy.).
CHARLESTON, S.C. - A medical expert's opinion that exposure to asbestos in gaskets substantially contributed to the entire dose that caused a man's mesothelioma simply reiterates scientific fact and is sufficiently case-specific to avoid being the "every exposure" theory, a man told a federal judge on July 24 in asking that he reconsider his ruling excluding the testimony (John E. Haskins and Mary L. Haskins v. 3M Co., et al., No. 15-2086, James Willson Chesher, et al. v. 3M., No. 15-2123, D. S.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 113657).
OAKLAND, Calif. - A federal magistrate judge in California on July 24 refused to dismiss a lawsuit brought by an environmental conservation group against the owner of a site that allegedly discharges excessive levels of polluted storm water, holding that the owner's decision to terminate a general permit does not render the group's claims moot (California Sportfishing Protection Alliance v. Shiloh Group, LLC, et al., No. 16-cv-6499-DMR, N.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 115209).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals majority on July 21 upheld a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices on airplanes because the law banning the devices from planes benefits the health of the passengers (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13112).
PHILADELPHIA - A Pennsylvania man on July 21 sued Monsanto Co. in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, contending that the company is liable for negligent conduct because he developed cancer as a result of using the company's herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate (Frederick Johnson v. Monsanto Company, No. 17-3260, E.D. Pa.).
HOUSTON - A federal judge in Texas on July 21 denied a defendant company's motion for partial summary judgment in a suit over cleanup costs at a Superfund site, finding that genuine disputes exist as to whether the company disposed of grease on the property (USOR Site PRP Group v. A&M Contractors, Inc., et al., No. 14-CV-2441, S.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114531).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The attorneys general of 11 states on July 24 filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking review of the EPA's decision to delay implementation of federal requirements preventing the release of toxic chemicals by chemical companies (State of New York, et al. v. E. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-1181, D.C. Cir.).
SAN ANTONIO - A Texas federal judge held on July 19 that an insured's state law tort causes of action as to how her federal flood insurer handled her claim are preempted by federal law, further concluding that it is undisputed that the insured failed to file an adequate proof of loss to support her breach of contract claim against the insurer (Patricia Hernandez v. National Lloyds Insurance Co., No. 15-1008, W.D. Texas, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 112567).
CLEVELAND - Expert asbestos medical testimony that echoes the requirements in Ohio law is sufficient to make a prima facie case and need not be a signed document, an Ohio appeals court held July 20 (Kevin E. Howell v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. 104554, Ohio App., 8th Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 2984).
DENVER - A 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 19 ruled that the federal government can be liable for some cleanup costs at a New Mexico mine as an owner under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because it owned a piece of national forest that was used to dump mine tailings (Chevron Mining Inc. v. United States, et al., No. 15-2209, 10th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12959).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A collection of environmental advocacy groups on July 20 filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia seeking declaratory and injunctive relief against U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt pursuant to the Clean Air Act (CAA), 42 U.S.C. 7401 et seq., contending that the agency should be ordered to reply to the groups' petition concerning Texas refinery permits (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-1439, D. D.C.).
BALTIMORE - A couple on July 19 settled with the two remaining defendants whose conduct allegedly caused exposure to asbestos, just two days after a judge denied a motion to exclude expert testimony from the defendant's industrial hygienist (Charles Lemuel Arbogast Jr., et al. v. A.W. Chesterton Co., et al., No. 14-4049, D. Md.).
FORT MYERS, Fla. - In a retrial of an Engle progeny suit, a Florida jury on July 18 found that a woman's lung cancer and death were caused by her addiction to cigarettes and R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co.'s failure to warn her about the dangers of smoking and awarded her husband $1.65 million (John Maloney v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 07-CA-015578, Fla. 20th Jud. Cir., Lee Co.).
PHOENIX - An Arizona man filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona on July 19 against Monsanto Co., alleging that its herbicide Roundup, which contains the chemical glyphosate, caused him to develop cancer. The case is one of 24 cancer cases filed by the same attorney against the company in the District Court (Dean T. Enomoto v. Monsanto Company, 17-2390, D. Ariz.).
NEW YORK - A New York appellate court on July 20 stayed implementation of all but the hotly contested punitive damages provision of the recent New York City asbestos litigation (NYCAL) case management order (CMO) while it considers defendants' challenges (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All Asbestos Cases., No. 40000/1988 782000/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW YORK - A widow may add claims for declaratory judgment and tortious interference with contract to her case claiming that insurers and an administrator are intentionally delaying or denying payment on a more than $7 million asbestos verdict, a New York justice held in an opinion posted July 18 (Ruby Konstantin, et al. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., et al., No. 652897/2013, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 2697).
NEW YORK - The justice recently appointed to oversee the New York City asbestos litigation (NYCAL) said July 18 that he would not stay implementation of the case management order (CMO) issued by the previous coordinating justice while the defendants appeal, sources told Mealey Publications (In re: New York City Asbestos Litigation, All Asbestos Cases., No. 40000/88 782000/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
PEORIA, Ill. - A federal judge in Illinois on July 18 denied a request by defendant companies seeking to have a jury decide if they should pay a civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA), finding that the statute specifically states that the court will assess what penalty should be imposed (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Illinois Power Resources LLC, et al., No. 13-CV-1181, C.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111556).
BALTIMORE - Expert testimony that asbestos "cumulates" in the body and leads to disease is indistinguishable from the theory that every exposure to asbestos leads to disease and is inadmissible under federal rules and Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., a federal judge in Maryland held July 17 in granting summary judgment in a prominent attorney's case alleging bystander exposure (Jeffrey Rockman, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 16-1169, D. Md., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110181).
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 19 affirmed a federal judge's ruling to uphold an appeal denying individual economic loss (IEL) claims submitted by three corporate officers of an architectural firm to the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) for the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement, finding that the terms of the agreement do not allow for double recovery because the officers' business and economic loss (BEL) claim had previously been approved (In re: Deepwater Horizon [Lake Eugene Land & Development, Inc., et al. v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al.], No. 16-30457, 5th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on July 18 ordered the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to explain to two environmental groups why the agency relied on surrogates to determine maximum achievable control technology (MACT) standards for emissions of three hazardous air pollutants when implementing a final rule entered in June 2015, after denying the agency's motion to dismiss the groups' petition as untimely (Sierra Club, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 15-1246, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 12842).