Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Emerging Toxic Torts Legal News
LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Emerging Toxic Torts Legal News
Headline Emerging Toxic Torts Legal News from LexisNexis®
DuPont Wants Separation Of Compensatory And Punitive Phases In C8 Trial
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Oct. 10 moved in Ohio federal court to bifurcate the next bellwether trial regarding alleged injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) into two distinct phases, one for compensatory liability and damages and the other for punitive liability and damages (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
Judge Orders DuPont To Produce Documents, Denies Request For Sanctions
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The judge presiding over litigation brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries stemming from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Oct. 7 ruled that the company is compelled to supplement its discovery requests but held that it would not be subject to sanctions as had been requested by the plaintiffs (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
Michigan Governor, Employees: Flint Lead Water Claims Fail; Immunity Applies
DETROIT - The employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Gov. Rick Snyder on Oct. 3 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that claims brought against them by a group of residents concerning lead-contaminated drinking water in Flint, Mich., should be dismissed because they are precluded by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Gov. Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
Flint, Mich., Lead Water Crisis Claims Barred By Immunity, Officials Argue
DETROIT - The defendants sued by Michigan residents who contend that they are liable for lead-contaminated drinking water in the City of Flint on Oct. 7 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that the claims fail for various reasons, including immunity under the 11th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, because the city was "an arm of the state" (Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
Defendants: Flint, Mich., Residents' Claims Fail In Water Crisis Lawsuit
DETROIT - A group of defendants in a putative class action filed by residents of Flint, Mich., contending that various state officials are liable for injuries that have stemmed from exposure to lead-contaminated drinking water moved in Michigan federal court to have the case dismissed on grounds that they are covered by sovereign immunity and federal law pertaining to drinking water "provides a comprehensive remedial scheme which precludes all claims" (Lawrence Washington, Jr., et al. v. Governor Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16- 11247, E.D. Mich.).
Panel: Monsanto Glyphosate MDL Set In The Northern District Of California
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on Oct. 4 issued a transfer order stating that all cases filed against Monsanto Co. alleging injuries from exposure to the weed killer Roundup will be tried as an MDL in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
Judge: Economic Loss Doctrine Applies To Chemical Company In Drinking Water Case
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on Oct. 6 denied plaintiffs the option to argue claims under the economic loss doctrine against water companies related to a chemical spill that contaminated groundwater near Charleston, but the judge concluded that the chemical company responsible for the leak was not entitled to summary judgment on the same issue of economic loss (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1347, S.D. W.Va.).
Groundwater Contamination Plaintiffs Not Permitted To File Brief, Agency Says
TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Turnpike Authority (NJTA) on Oct. 3 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court arguing that an environmental group should not be granted leave to file a brief seeking reconsideration of the court's decision to grant the NJTA dismissal in a groundwater contamination lawsuit (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
San Diego Port Sues Federal Government For Groundwater, Soil Contamination
SAN DIEGO - The San Diego Unified Port District (SDUPD) on Oct. 11 filed a lawsuit in California federal court against the U.S. government, seeking cost recovery and damages related to alleged contamination of the port and the groundwater around it with industrial waste (San Diego Unified Port District v. United States of America, No. 16-2540, S.D. Calif.).
Halliburton Denies Tainted Groundwater Claims, Says Punitive Damages Improper
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on Oct. 10 filed an answer to a complaint brought by a group of Oklahoma residents who allege that the company is liable for groundwater contamination, arguing that the plaintiffs fail to identify any property or individuals who have been injured by the alleged presence of perchlorate in the aquifer that supplies their drinking water (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).
Company Offers New Terms In Fracking Settlement, Releases Residents From Liability
HARRISBURG, Pa. - The hydraulic fracturing company and its affiliates being sued by residents who allege that the companies contaminated the groundwater in their Pennsylvania town filed an amendment to a settlement agreement between the parties on Sept. 30, which releases two of the plaintiff couples from any liability (Tammy Manning, et al. v. WPX Energy Appalachia LLC, No. 12-0646, M.D. Pa.).
Group: EPA Has Failed To Develop Perchlorate Guidelines For Drinking Water
NEW YORK - An environmental group on Oct. 12 filed a brief in New York federal court seeking a summary judgment ruling against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for allegedly missing a deadline to propose final regulations for perchlorate in drinking water pursuant to Congress' instructions in the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (Natural Resources Defense Council Inc. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1251, S.D. N.Y.).
Supplier Denies Liability For Injuries From Lithium Battery Explosion
OKLAHOMA CITY - One of the defendants being sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an answer and counterclaim in Oklahoma federal court on Oct. 14, contending that the plaintiffs fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted and that it is entitled to immunity under the Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Act (Jacob McGehee, et al. v. Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation, et al., and Southwest Electronic Energy Corporation v. Engineered Power LP, et al., No. 15-145, W.D. Okla.).
Defendants Say Flint, Mich., Lead Water Claims Fail, Assert Immunity
DETROIT - Employees of the State of Michigan on Sept. 29 filed a brief in Michigan federal court, arguing that the lawsuit brought against it by residents of Flint, Mich., in relation to the lead-contaminated water crisis should be dismissed because the plaintiffs' attempt to "severely limit the application of absolute immunity only to prosecutors is incorrect" (Frances Gilcreast, et al. v. Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, No. 16-11173, E.D. Mich.).
Defendant: Flint, Mich., Water Crisis Plaintiffs Not Entitled To Extension
DETROIT - An employee of Genesee County, Mich., who was sued by residents who contend that he is among the parties responsible for the city's lead-contaminated water crisis, on Sept. 27 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that the court should deny the plaintiffs' motion for an extension of time in which to file their brief opposing the employees' motion to dismiss the lawsuit (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).
Residents: 'Immediate Judicial Intervention' Needed In Flint, Mich., Water Crisis
DETROIT - The residents of Flint, Mich., who are suing Michigan state and city officials alleging that they are liable for the lead-contaminated water crisis filed a brief in Michigan federal court on Sept. 22, contending that "immediate judicial intervention" is needed (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
2 More Plaintiffs Seek To Be Added To Roundup MDL Against Monsanto Co.
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The attorney representing two plaintiffs who sued Monsanto Co. in separate lawsuits alleging that exposure to glyphosate resulted in the development or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) on Sept. 27 filed a notice with the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) seeking to have the cases included in an MDL in Illinois (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).
California Federal Judge Rules PCB Contamination Case May Proceed Against Monsanto
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on Sept. 28 ruled that the City of San Diego's nuisance claim against Monsanto Co. and its affiliates lacks evidence, but he concluded that other claims pertaining to alleged contamination of the San Diego Bay with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) were valid (San Diego Unified Port District, et al v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-578, S.D. Calif.).
Companies: C8 Groundwater Contamination Case Should Be Dismissed; Injury Not Shown
ALBANY, N.Y. - Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp. and Honeywell International Inc. on Sept. 26 moved in New York federal court to dismiss a lawsuit brought by a class of residents who contend that the companies are liable for contaminating their drinking water with perfluorooctanoic acid, referred to as C8, contending that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and that the claims should be dismissed under the primary jurisdiction doctrine (Michelle Baker, et al. v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., et al., No. 16-917, N.D. N.Y.).
Chevron: Nigerian Case Related To Oil Rig Explosion 'Invalid'
SAN FRANCISCO - Chevron Corp. on Sept. 19 filed a brief in California federal court arguing that the claims brought by a group of Nigerian residents who contend that the company is liable for damages related to the explosion of one of its natural gas rigs are "invalid" and that their contention that the explosion caused harm to coastal communities "is not supported by any admissible expert analysis" (Foster Ogola, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).
Group: Defendants 'Fail To Dispute' Evidence In Tainted Groundwater Case
TRENTON, N.J. - An environmental advocacy group on Sept. 13 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court arguing that NL Industries and the New Jersey Department of Transit (NJDOT) fail to dispute the substantive relevance of the evidence overlooked or misinterpreted by the court in its summary judgment dismissal ruling (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
New Jersey Officials: Case Fails To State Claim; Sovereign Immunity Applies
TRENTON, N.J. - New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and other state officials on Sept. 23 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court arguing that a lawsuit brought against them by a group of residents seeking compensatory and punitive damages in relation to lead-contaminated drinking water should be dismissed because the officials are entitled to sovereign immunity (Veronica Branch, et al v. Chris Christie, et al., No. 16-2467, D. N.J.).
Sears To Pay $400,000 In Fines In Deal With EPA On Lead Law Violations
CHICAGO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Sept. 28 announced that it had reached an agreement with Sears Home Improvement Products Inc. under which the company will pay $400,000 to settle claims that it violated federal laws pertaining to toxic substances and property renovation involving lead-based paint hazards (United States of America v. Sears Home Improvement Products Inc., No. 16-9302, N.D. Ill.).
Panel Says Staffing Company's Insurer Owes No Duty In Carbon Monoxide Injury Case
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana appeals panel on Sept. 28 partially reversed and partially affirmed a ruling in a carbon monoxide poisoning case and determined that the insurer for a staffing company did not owe a duty to defend to the general contractor who had organized the project where two workers sustained their injuries (William F. Spencer v. Chevron Corporation, et al., No. 2016-CA-0174, La. App., 4th Cir.; 2016 La. App. LEXIS 1786).
Judge Remands Agent Orange Benefits Denial, Calls For Re-Evaluation Of Decision
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Sept. 30 partially remanded a ruling that denied a veteran benefits for his alleged exposure to Agent Orange, concluding that the Board of Veterans Appeals must re-evaluate its definition of inland waterways to determine exposure (James R. Johnson v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-1101, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1503).
State Of Rhode Island Sues Oil Companies For Tainting Groundwater With MTBE
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.).
City Of Fresno Liable For Drinking Water Tainted With Lead, Residents Say
FRESNO, Calif. - A group of residents in California on Sept. 9 filed a purported class action against the City of Fresno and related parties, alleging that they are liable for contaminating their drinking water with lead and other toxins (Karen Micheli, et al. v. The City of Fresno, No. 16GECG02937, Calif. Super., Fresno Co.).
DuPont: New Trial, Remittitur Warranted In C8 Case That Resulted In $5.6M Award
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Sept. 19 filed a brief in Ohio federal court seeking judgment as a matter of law or a new trial and remittitur on the cancer claims of David Freeman, who won a combined $5.6 million in compensatory and punitive damages against the company for cancer stemming from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
DuPont: C8 Plaintiff's High Cholesterol Claim Fails For Lack Of Evidence
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Sept. 16 moved in Ohio federal court for summary judgment on claims made by one of the plaintiffs in the ongoing trials pertaining to alleged injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), arguing that the plaintiff has "not even attempted to come forward with the requisite evidence to support his allegations" (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
Proposed Bill Would Amend Safe Drinking Water Act In Light Of Flint, Mich., Crisis
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two federal legislators on Sept. 22 introduced a resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives that would amend the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) aimed at improving drinking water standards, specifically with regard to the amount of lead in the water, by increasing compliance among local water utilities while fostering "greater community right to know about drinking water quality."
'Criminal Falsehoods' Warrant Flint, Mich., Lead Case Against State, Residents Say
DETROIT - A group of Michigan residents on Sept. 22 filed an omnibus response in a lawsuit regarding the lead water crisis in Flint, Mich., contending that although employees of the state have yet to be indicted for the lead water crisis in Flint, there are "more than enough questions of fact, internal contradictions, and criminal falsehoods" to warrant denial of their motion to dismiss (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).
Lead Water Crisis Plaintiffs Say Claims Properly Pleaded Against State Of Michigan
DETROIT - A group of residents on Sept. 19 filed a brief in Michigan federal court arguing that they have properly pleaded their claims against employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) and Gov. Rick Snyder with regard to the lead contamination of the drinking water in Flint, Mich. (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Gov. Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).
Ecuadorian Residents Seek Rehearing En Banc At 2nd Circuit In Lago Agrio Case
NEW YORK - A group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney on Sept. 16 filed a petition in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals seeking a rehearing en banc with regard to the Second Circuit's prior decision that affirmed a lower court's ruling that a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney committed fraud when they won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for alleged injuries related to the company's involvement with an oil consortium (Chevron Corporation v. Steven Donziger, No. 14-826 [consolidated with] Chevron Corporation v. Hugo Gerardo Camacho Naranjo, No. 14-832, 2nd Cir.).
8th Circuit Holds PCB Injury Appeal In Abeyance Pending Settlement Negotiations
ST. LOUIS - The clerk of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 14 issued an order holding in abeyance pending settlement a case brought by two men against Monsanto Co. related to cancer they allegedly contracted as a result of exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) made by the company and its affiliates (Thomas Kelly, et al. v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15-01825, E.D. Mo.).
Glyphosate's Carcinogencity Cannot Be Determined Based On Available Data, EPA Says
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a report on Sept. 17 in which the agency said that while there is "strongest support" for classifying glyphosate - the chemical in the herbicide Roundup - as "not likely to be carcinogenic to humans," a conclusion regarding the association between glyphosate exposure and the risk of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) cannot be determined based on the available data.
Judge: Groups May Seek Civil Penalties In Coal Ash Groundwater Lawsuit
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A judge in Tennessee on Sept. 9 ruled that two environmental groups suing the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) could seek civil penalties but could not demand a jury in their lawsuit against the agency alleging groundwater contamination due to the presence of coal ash in local aquifers (Tennessee Clean Water Network, et al. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 15-424, M.D. Tenn.).
Group: More Than 200 Million People Are Drinking Water Tainted With Chromium-6
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Environmental Working Group (EWG) on Sept. 20 released a report indicating that its analysis of federal data from drinking water tests shows that more than 200 million Americans in all 50 states are drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium - also known as chromium-6 - a known carcinogen.
North Carolina, Company Settle Groundwater Contamination Case For $6 Million
RALEIGH, N.C. - The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Sept. 23 announced that it reached a settlement with Duke Energy Carolinas LLC under which the company will pay $6 million to the state for violations associated with a coal ash spill at its power plant on the Dan River that resulted in groundwater contamination (In the matter of: Duke Energy Carolinas LLC, No. DV-2016-0017, NCDEQ, Rockingham Co.).
Maryland Appeals Panel Affirms Lead Paint Awards
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A panel of the Maryland Court of Special Appeals on Sept. 1 affirmed rulings by two separate juries in lower courts that awarded damages to a woman against her landlord for injuries caused by exposure to lead-based paint, but denied her an award of attorney fees (Stanley Rochkind v. Starlena Stevenson, No. 418, Sept. Term 2015, Md. Spec. App.; 2016 Md. App. LEXIS 100).
Judge Finds Registering In State Provides Jurisdiction Over Talc Companies
PHILADELPHIA - Registering to do business in Pennsylvania provides consent to personal jurisdiction in the state even in light of recent Supreme Court precedent, a federal judge in Philadelphia held Sept. 20 in a case alleging ovarian cancer arising from exposure to talc (Nancy Bors v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 16-2866, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 128259).
Judge: Evidence Lacking For Veteran's Agent Orange Exposure Claim
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Aug. 31 ruled that the evidence did not support a veteran's claim that he was exposed to Agent Orange while on active duty, but remanded the other part of his injury claim to determine what benefits he may be entitled to for hearing loss injuries (Arnold F. Dahl v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-3104, Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1335).