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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Emerging Toxic Torts Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Emerging Toxic Torts Legal News



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Parties Reach $151M Settlement In West Virginia Drinking Water Contamination Case
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Parties engaged in a groundwater contamination lawsuit related to the chemical spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) have reached a $151 million settlement agreement in which $76 million in payments are guaranteed, one of the attorneys representing the plaintiffs told Mealey Publications Nov. 2 (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).



Judge Denies DuPont's Request For Summary Judgment On Causation In C8 Litigation
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The federal judge in Ohio presiding over the multidistrict litigation brought by residents against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. pertaining to alleged injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on Nov. 7 denied the company's motion for summary judgment on specific causation related to the first non-bellwether trial on grounds that the plaintiff's disease was listed as a "linked disease" for the purpose of the litigation (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).



Plaintiff: Court Should Deny DuPont's Summary Judgment Motion On Punitive Damages
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A man who contends that he was injured as a result of exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) from a plant operated by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Nov. 7 filed a brief in Ohio federal court in one of the cases included in the multidistrict litigation, arguing that the court should deny the company's motion for summary judgment because the issue of the availability of punitive damages has been determined (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).



City Of Flint, Mich., Opposes Venue Transfer In Lead Water Crisis Litigation
DETROIT - The city of Flint, Mich., on Nov. 11 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan opposing a motion filed by state employees who want the lawsuit brought by residents for injuries from lead-contaminated drinking water transferred to a different venue (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Gov. Richard Dale Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).



Michigan State Employees: Water Case Should Be Stayed Pending Decision On Venue
DETROIT- Employees with the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) on Nov. 7 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that it should stay all proceedings in the lead-contaminated water case brought by residents of Flint, Mich., against the state pending a final decision on a prior motion for change of venue (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 15-14002, E.D. Mich.).



Judge: State Officials Must Provide Bottled Water To Every House In Flint, Mich.
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on Nov 10 granted a preliminary injunction to residents of Flint, Mich., who sued the city and state officials related to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, ordering the defendants to provide door-to-door delivery of bottled water (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).



Roundup Plaintiff's 'End-Run Around' MDL Court Should Be Denied, Monsanto Says
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. filed a brief in a California federal court on Oct. 27, arguing that a plaintiff whose case is already included in the multidistrict litigation for alleged injuries related to the herbicide Roundup is making "an improper end-run around" the MDL court by filing a separate brief in the initial case he filed against the company (Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto Co., No. 15-525, N.D. Calif.).



City Of San Jose: Ruling In Similar Case Supports Action Against Monsanto
SAN JOSE, Calif. - The city of San Jose, Calif., on Nov. 1 filed a notice of supplemental authority in its lawsuit against Monsanto Co. and two of its affiliates concerning the city's action seeking damages for alleged polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, contending that based on a ruling in a similar case, there is an adequate causal connection for the case to proceed (City of San Jose v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-03178, N.D. Calif.).



Chevron: Report On Impact Of Oil Rig Explosion Should Not Be Admitted As Evidence
SAN FRANCISCO - Chevron Corp., which was sued by Nigerian residents who contend that they have been injured as a result of an oil rig explosion, on Nov. 4 filed a brief in California federal court arguing that the court should exclude from evidence a research report regarding the impact of the explosion on grounds that it is inadmissible under federal evidentiary rules (Natto Iyela Gbarabe v. Chevron Corporation, No. 14-173, N.D. Calif.).



Judge Will Not Change Briefing Schedule In Halliburton Radioactive Materials Case
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Nov. 10 ruled that plaintiffs who sued Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) for injuries from radioactive waste contamination could not modify the scheduling order in the case because they had enough time to submit an expert report yet failed to do so (Amanda Alexander, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 11-1343, W.D. Okla.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 155978).



Judge Denies Veteran Benefits, Says Evidence Of Exposure To Agent Orange Lacking
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Nov. 4 denied a veteran's claim for damages stemming from exposure to Agent Orange, ruling that he failed to establish that he had been exposed to the chemical during his service in the military (Gerald Brown v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 14-4427, Vet., Clms.; 2016 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 1704).



Judge: Board Properly Denied Benefits To Veteran Related To Agent Orange Exposure
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on Nov. 4 ruled that a veteran's claim for benefits related to exposure to Agent Orange was not supported by a medical examination and affirmed a decision that denied the veteran benefits (Ray S. Goldston v. Robert A. McDonald, No. 15-3538, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2016 U.S. App., Vet Claims LEXIS 1708).



Judge: Some Of Flint, Mich., Water Crisis Plaintiffs' Claims Survive Dismissal
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A judge in Michigan on Oct. 26 partially dismissed and partially upheld causes of action brought by residents of Flint, Mich., against the state's governor and other employees related to the lead-contaminated water crisis, concluding that the plaintiffs' claims for injury to bodily integrity and inverse condemnation were valid (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 16-000017, Mich. Clms.).



Flint, Mich., Residents: State Department Of Education Liable in Lead Water Crisis
DETROIT - A class of Michigan residents on Oct. 18 filed a putative class action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), seeking declaratory and injunctive relief "to vindicate the rights" of school-age children residing in Flint, Mich., who currently have disabilities, or who are at risk of developing them, due to elevated levels of lead in the drinking water (D.R., as a minor through parent and next friend Dawn Richardson, et al. v. Michigan Department of Education, et al., No. 16-cv-13694, E.D. Mich.).



Lawmakers: State's Efforts To Block Flint Water Crisis Lawsuits Should Be Probed
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Five Michigan Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives on Oct. 26 sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch asking her to investigate a series of concerns pertaining to lawsuits involving the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., including the way in which the State of Michigan is applying its emergency manager law (EML) to block the City of Flint from suing the state.



Flint Water Case Should Be Transferred To Ensure Fair Trial, Defendants Say
DETROIT - Employees of the State of Michigan on Oct. 27 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 moved to a venue in another state because "the adverse publicity pervading the state jeopardizes" their right to a fair trial by an impartial jury (Frances Gilcreast, et al. v. Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam, No. 16-11173, E.D. Mich.).



2nd Circuit Denies Rehearing In $18.5B Fraud Case Related To Lago Agrio Contamination
NEW YORK - The court clerk for the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Oct. 27 issued an order denying a petition for rehearing sought by a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney in the fraud case surrounding the $18.5 billion judgment the residents had won against Chevron Corp., which was reversed, pertaining to 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.).



DuPont: C8 Lawsuit Should Be Dismissed For Plaintiff's Lack Of Causation
COLUMBUS, Ohio - E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. on Oct. 24 filed a brief in Ohio federal court, arguing that one of the cases included in the multidistrict litigation regarding alleged injuries from exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) should be dismissed because the plaintiff cannot establish that C8 from DuPont's Washington Works facility was the proximate and specific cause of his testicular cancer (In re E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).



Legislator Questions EPA's Ability To Assess Glyphosate Based On 'Sound Science'
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology wrote a letter to the administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 25 stating that the committee has obtained information that "appears to contradict" the administrator's responses to questions the committee posed regarding the EPA's oversight of the herbicide glyphosate. In the letter, the chairman indicates that in light of the contradictions, the EPA's decision to delay official review of glyphosate does not "instill confidence that EPA will fairly assess glyphosate based on sound science."



Monsanto: San Jose's PCB Contamination Complaint 'Defective'; Dismissal Sought
SAN JOSE, Calif. - Monsanto Co. and two of its affiliates on Oct. 14 filed a brief in California federal court arguing that it should take judicial notice of evidence that the City of San Jose's polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination lawsuit was already ruled "defective" as it considers the defendants' motion to dismiss that lawsuit (City of San Jose v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-03178, N.D. Calif.).



Judge: City Has Valid Claim Against Monsanto For PCB Groundwater Contamination
SPOKANE, Wash. - A judge in Washington state on Oct. 26 ruled that the City of Spokane, Wash., sufficiently alleged claims against Monsanto Co. and its affiliates for contamination of the city's groundwater with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs); therefore, it had standing to seek remediation costs from the company (City of Spokane v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-00201, E.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148436).



Judge: Most Of Settlement Transcript In Train Derailment Case Should Not Be Sealed
CAMDEN, N.J. - The federal judge in New Jersey presiding over claims brought by residents who say they were injured as a result of a vinyl chloride spill into Mantua Creek on Oct. 17 ruled that the majority of a transcript pertaining to settlement transactions could not be sealed (In re: Paulsboro Derailment Cases [Karen Armistead v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. 13-2358], Master Docket No. 13-784, D. N.J.).



Residents: Chemical Companies Liable For Groundwater Contamination
PHILADELPHIA - A group of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit on Oct. 13 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania against 3M Co. and other defendants, contending that their products contaminated drinking water with toxic chemicals when they were used at two U.S. Naval facilities near Philadelphia and migrated into the groundwater (Leonard Grande, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-5380, E.D. Pa.).



Zinc Smelter Operator Seeks Communication With Nonrepresented Plaintiffs
OKLAHOMA CITY - The operator of a zinc smelter on Sept. 22 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court seeking approval to engage in proposed communications with 18 nonrepresented putative class members regarding the eligibility of their properties for soil remediation related to a groundwater contamination lawsuit (Helen Briggs, et al. v. Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., No. 13-1157, W.D. Okla.).



Judge: Injunction Not Needed In Groundwater Contamination Lawsuit
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A federal judge in West Virginia on Oct. 26 ruled that the injunction sought by some businesses that had been contacted by class counsel seeking information on damages in a contaminated groundwater lawsuit was unwarranted (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1347, S.D. W.Va.).



Judge Says Inmate's Drinking Water Complaint States A Valid Claim
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Oct. 26 ruled that a prison inmate had sufficiently alleged that the drinking water in the facility where he is incarcerated contains toxins and may be the cause of his health problems (Jerrold Davis v. Tarry Williams, et al., No. 15-8130, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 148065).



EPA Issues White Paper Proposing Revisions To Lead And Copper Rule
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a white paper in October that proposes revisions to the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), including the possible replacement of all water service lines containing lead.



Residents Affected By Toxic Chemical Spill Seek Class Status
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - A group of residents on Oct. 14 filed a brief in a Tennessee federal court arguing that it should certify a class action against CSX Transportation Inc. and another railroad company related to a spill of toxic chemicals that resulted from a train derailment based on the need to evacuate the residential area surrounding the site (Charles Tipton, et al. v. CSX Transportation Inc., et al., No. 15-311, E.D. Tenn.).



Supreme Court Won't Hear Wrongful Death Benzene Case Against Gasoline Companies
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11 refused to hear a widow's appeal in her wrongful death lawsuit against gasoline companies that she contended were liable for her husband's death due to his exposure to benzene (Yolande Burst v. Shell Oil Company, et al., No. 16-241, U.S. Sup.).



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.).