NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge on March 16 found that an English insurer's removal of a former machinist's asbestos-related claims from a state court was appropriate, finding that the dispute could relate to an underlying arbitration agreement contained in an insurance policy (James Edward O'Connor v. Maritime Management Corp., et al., No. 16-16201, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 37798).
FRESNO, Calif. - A judge properly admitted expert testimony that every identifiable exposure to asbestos contributes to mesothelioma, a California appeals court held March 17, while also rejecting challenges involving tobacco use and an award of punitive damages (Charity Faith Phillips, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. F070761, Calif. App., 5th Dist.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on March 14 approved a consent decree that would require Pocahontas Land Corp. to obtain a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit to resolve allegations brought by three environmental groups that the company was violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Ohio Valle Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Pocahontas Land Corporation, No. 15-cv-15515, S.D. W.Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 36145).
BALTIMORE - A Maryland federal judge on March 10 granted motions for partial summary judgment filed by a number of insurers involved in an asbestos coverage dispute after determining that the insured's claims regarding the exhaustion of the insurers' policies were not timely filed (General Insurance Company of America v. The Walter E. Campbell Co. Inc., et al., No. 12-3307, D. Md.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34348).
MIAMI - A retail grocery was not fraudulently joined in an asbestos case because allegations regarding what it should have known sufficiently support a negligence action, a federal judge in Florida held in remanding the case on March 10 (Andrienne Fransas v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., No. 17-80058, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35545).
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. - R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. on March 10 moved for a new trial in an Engle progeny suit that resulted in a $6 million verdict, saying that the plaintiff introduced surprising and previously undisclosed testimony that her deceased husband suffered a heart attack before Nov. 21, 1996, and that the jury form likely confused and misled the jury about the findings it was required to make regarding her husband's membership in the Engle class (Blanche Fox v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 2008-CV-026348, Fla. 17th Jud. Cir. Broward Co.).
AUSTIN, Texas - The Multidistrict Litigation Panel of Texas on March 10 ruled that 10 separate lawsuits that allege drinking water contamination against a group of refining company defendants should be transferred to a single court for pretrial proceedings (In re: Corpus Christi Tap Water Litigation, MDL No. 17-69, Texas MDL Panel; 2017 Tex. LEXIS 291).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on March 9 vacated and remanded a case involving a veteran's claims for benefits due to exposure to Agent Orange while in Vietnam, concluding that the Board of Veterans Appeals erred when it failed to return a medical examination report that needed clarification (Freddie Bell Jr. v. David J. Shulkin, No. 15-3376, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 340).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the District of Columbia on March 13 gave the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency three years to create rules governing emissions standards for 20 hazardous air pollutants (HAPs) after the agency conceded that it violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by failing to undertake a nondiscretionary duty to establish the standards (California Communities Against Toxics, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, Administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 15-cv-512, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 35268).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A group of engineering firms that were sued by residents who contended that they shared liability for the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., on March 9 filed a petition for writ of certiorari in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing 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 "creates a circuit split and is wrong" (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A plaintiff in an Engle progeny suit on March 8 moved for an extension of time to file a motion for a rehearing, certification, or a written opinion following an order from the Florida Fourth District Court of Appeal that affirmed a defense verdict in a tobacco trial, according the online docket (Dorothy Haliburton v. R.J. Reynolds, No. 4D15-1819, Fla. App. 4th Dist.).
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The Pennsylvania Department of Revenue on March 9 removed a suit in which it is accused of creating an overly broad list of e-cigarette and tobacco products under the Tobacco Products Act of Pennsylvania that are taxed to federal court in Pennsylvania because many of the claims are based in federal law (Kingdom Vapor, et al. v. Pennsylvania Department of Revenue, No. 3:02-at-06000, Pa. M.D.).
LOS ANGELES - A rule requiring dismissal when asbestos plaintiffs failed to substitute a party within the allotted time frame is not the fatal weapon defendants wish it was, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel held March 9 (Richard Zanowick, an individual and Joan Clark-Zanowick v. Baxter Healthcare Corp., et al., No. 15-56047, 9th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS - Louisiana law will govern a survivorship claim as its application does not substantially affect Idaho, while the latter state's policy against punitive damages precludes allowing that claim to proceed in an asbestos action, a federal judge in Louisiana held March 6 (William C. Bell, et al. v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., et al., No. 15-6394, E.D. La.).
DETROIT - Volkswagen AG on March 10 pleaded guilty in Michigan federal court to charges of conspiracy to defraud the United States, violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) and wire fraud as a result of defeat devices the company installed in its diesel vehicles that were designed to cheat emissions tests, according to a docket entry (United States of America v. James Robert Liang, et al., No. 16-cr-20394, E.D. Mich.).
HARTFORD, Conn. - In reversing a number of rulings entered by a trial court as part of the second phase of an asbestos and silica coverage dispute, the Connecticut Appellate Court on March 7 said the trial court construed the occupational disease exclusions too narrowly and erred in finding that the insured is responsible for defense costs from 1993 through 2007 when it was uninsured (R.T. Vanderbilt Co. Inc. v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. et al., Nos. AC 36749, AC 37140, AC 37141, AC 37142, AC 37143, AC 37144, AC 37145, AC 37146, AC 37147, AC 37148, AC 37149, AC 37150, AC 37151, Conn. App., 2017 Conn. App. LEXIS 59).
NEW ORLEANS - An expert's conclusion that six defendants' products couldn't have caused a man's mesothelioma impermissibly leaps to specific causation from his general causation opinion regarding chrysotile asbestos' role in the disease, a federal judge in Louisiana held March 6 (William C. Bell, et al. v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., et al., No. 15-6394, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31117).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on March 7 stayed a consumer's lawsuit over the installation of defeat devices in some of Volkswagen Group of America Inc.'s diesel vehicles pending transfer to a multidistrict litigation court, finding that the MDL court can determine if jurisdictional issues warrant remanding the action to state court (Pamela Woodcox, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America, Inc., d/b/a Volkswagen of America, Inc., et al., No. 17-215 WBS DB, E.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 32609).
NEW ORLEANS - Manufacturers of bare metal products can be liable for asbestos in component parts if they assisted in integrating the asbestos part with their own product, knew the hazards involved in the part, or recommended the asbestos-containing part, a federal judge in Louisiana held March 6 in explaining what he earlier described as a "third way" of handling the bare-metal defense (William C. Bell, et al. v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., et al., No. 15-6394, E.D. La.).
NEW ORLEANS - Experts' failure to tether the opinion that small asbestos doses cause mesothelioma to the specific exposures in question renders their opinions too similar to the type of "every exposure" theory rejected by courts, a federal judge in Louisiana held March 6 (William C. Bell, et al. v. Foster Wheeler Energy Corp., et al., No. 15-6394, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31117).
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on March 3 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation that a settlement between the federal government and the New York Racing Association to resolve a Clean Water Act (CWA) suit is fair and reasonable (United States of America v. The New York Racing Association, No. 16 CV 5442, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 30368).
AUSTIN, Texas - Settlement negotiations in Texas involving asbestos liabilities do not support the conclusion that the parties sought to avail themselves of the state's laws, even if the company eventually selected to manage a resulting trust is based there, the Texas Supreme Court held March 3 in finding that the state lacked jurisdiction (M&F Worldwide Corp., et al. v. Pepsi-Cola Metropolitan Bottling Company Inc., No. 15-0083, Texas Sup.).
ALBANY, N.Y. - A New York appellate panel on March 2 reversed a trial court ruling and determined that a lead-based paint poisoning lawsuit against a landlord couple should be dismissed on grounds that the statute of limitations had expired on the claim (Violet Vasilatos v. William Dzamba, No. 523286, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 3rd Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 1581).
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - Joining a tort claimant in an insurance dispute as a counterclaim defendant is proper because his absence in the proceedings would mean that a federal district court would not be able to accord complete relief among the existing parties, a federal judge in Missouri ruled March 1 in granting an insurer's motion to join (Nathaniel Straub v. Progressive Preferred Insurance Co., No. 17-4022, W.D. Mo., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28463).
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on March 1 found that Navistar Inc. and Navistar Financial Corp. are liable for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) by selling 7,749 engines in 2010 without certificates of compliance, finding that the engines were not subject to a certificate issued to the companies in 2009 because they were not saleable (United States of America v. Navistar, Inc., et al., 15 CV 6143, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 28600).