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LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Benzene Legal News
Headline Benzene Legal News from LexisNexis®
Indemnification Pleading In Benzene Injury Case Found To Defeat Dismissal
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A hardware store chain has adequately pleaded indemnification against a manufacturer of paint products alleged to have caused a former furniture refinisher's leukemia, a Florida federal judge said in a June 3 opinion (Gaetana Sorvillo v. Ace Hardware Corporation, et al., No. 2:13-cv-629, M.D. Fla., Fort Myers Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75352).
Plaintiffs Fail To Pierce Corporate Veil In Lawsuit Alleging Abandoned Pollution
FORT MYERS, Fla. - A personal injury and property damage lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida alleging fraud and strict liability for the illegal abandonment of volatile organic compounds and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons was dismissed May 27 without prejudice for failing to state a claim; the plaintiffs have 14 days to file an amended complaint (Noel D. Clark Jr., et al. v. Ashland Inc., No. 13-794, M.D. Fla.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71995).
Safety-Kleen Sanctioned For Bad Faith Negotiations In Settlement Meeting
PITTSBURGH - Safety-Kleen Systems Inc. was sanctioned in Pennsylvania federal court by a magistrate judge who said May 28 that the company showed in bad faith in a settlement negotiation with plaintiffs alleging the development of myelofibrosis and myelodysplastic syndrome as a result of occupational exposure to benzene in the company's 105 Solvent (Ruben Grigoryants and Mariana Grigoryants v. Safety-Kleen Corporation, No. 1:11-CV-00267-SJM, W.D. Pa.; See April 2014, Page 8).
Panel Upholds Dismissal Of Workers' Compensation Claim
LAKE CHARLES, La. - A workers' compensation judge properly dismissed a former Dual Trucking Inc. employee's claim, a Louisiana appeals panel found June 4, explaining that the former employee cannot carry his burden to prove causation between his alleged exposure to chemicals while on the job and any injury or symptom that he has sustained (Jody Matt v. Dual Trucking Inc., 13-1403, La. App., 3rd Cir.; 2014 La. App. LEXIS 1472).
Federal Judge Remands Maritime Lymphoma Suit
LAFAYETTE, La. - A federal judge in Louisiana on June 6 remanded to state court a suit alleging that a plaintiff's lymphoma was caused by his exposure to benzene during his employment as a seamen, agreeing with the plaintiff that his Merchant Marine Act of 1920 (the Jones Act) claim was not removable (James Gabriles v. Chevron USA Inc., et al., No. 14-669, W.D. La.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77674).
Family Of Deceased Refinery Worker Sues ExxonMobil
BEAUMONT, Texas - The spouse and children of a deceased former Mobil Oil Co. refinery worker on June 4 filed an employer gross negligence suit in Texas state court against Mobil and ExxonMobil Corp., alleging that during his employment he was exposed to benzene and other products, which led to his development of myelodysplastic syndrome and death (Kathryn Drake, et al. v. ExxonMobil Corp., et al., No. D195764, Texas Dist., Jefferson Co.).
Texas Judge Denies Company's Motion To Reverse $2.9M Hydraulic Fracturing Award
DALLAS - The Texas judge presiding over a case in which $2.9 million was awarded to a family for injuries related to hydraulic fracturing on June 19 denied the company's motion seeking judgment as a matter of law reversing the award (Lisa Parr, et al. v. Aruba Petroleum Inc., No. 11-1650, Texas Law No. 5, Dallas Co.).
Missouri AG Requests Injunction Against Landfill
CLAYTON, Mo. - In a Missouri state court, Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster on June 4 requested a preliminary injunction requiring more aggressive management by Republic Services Inc. of the Bridgeton Landfill in Bridgeton, Mo., as well as more reimbursement to the state for its monitoring (State Of Missouri ex rel. Attorney General Chris Koster, et al. v. Republic Services Inc., et al., No. 13SL-CC01088, Mo. Cir., St. Louis Co.).
Residents Ask 5th Circuit To Rehear CITGO Decision
NEW ORLEANS - Residents of the Hillcrest neighborhood of Corpus Christi, Texas, on June 2 filed a petition for rehearing en banc of the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals' denial of their request for a petition for a writ of mandamus pertaining to a court's denial of restitution in the criminal case against CITGO Petroleum Corp. for criminal pollution violations (In re: Jewell Allen, et al., No. 14-40505, 5th Cir.; See May 2014, Page 9).
ExxonMobil's Attempt To Dismiss Pegasus Pipeline Spill Suit Denied By Judge
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A federal judge in Arkansas on June 9 denied ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.'s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the federal government and State of Arkansas over an oil spill by the Pegasus Pipeline in Mayflower, Ark., in March 2013, finding that the plaintiffs sufficiently stated claims under the Clean Water Act and state pollution laws (United States of America, et al. v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Company, et al., No. 13-cv-00355-KGB, E.D. Ark.; See June 2013, Page 10).
Federal Judge Remands Claims To Illinois Court, Citing Citizenship Of Decedent
EAST ST. LOUIS, Ill. - An Illinois federal judge has remanded claims on behalf of the estate of a refinery worker who died of acute myelogenous leukemia (AML), saying in a May 15 ruling that although the plaintiff is an Arkansas resident, he takes on the domicile of his decedent, who, along with two of the defendants, were citizens of Illinois and, thus, not diverse (Joseph Anderson, individually and as special administrator of the Estate of Alice J. Anderson v. Shell Chem., LP, 3:14-cv-00461, S.D. Ill.).
Judge: Benzene Plaintiff Fails To Plead Diversity For Federal Jurisdiction
NEW ORLEANS - A Louisiana federal judge dismissed a woman's claims against two entities stemming from the death of her husband from acute myeloid leukemia (AML) allegedly caused by exposure to benzene-containing products, saying in an April 25 opinion that the plaintiff failed to plead citizenship for the purpose of federal jurisdiction (Ashly C. Boudreaux, et al, v. Shell Oil Company, et al., No. 13-4762, E.D. La.; See February 2014, Page 4).
Safety-Kleen Seeks To Bar Plaintiff's Expert Regarding Job Exposure
HATO REY, Puerto Rico - Claims that Safety-Kleen Systems Inc.'s Solvent 105 (SK 105) caused chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are supported by obsolete and inadmissible science, the company argues in a May 16 brief seeking to bar a key plaintiff's expert pursuant to Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. (509 U.S. 579, 589 $(1993$)) in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico (Gerardo Campos, et al. v. Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., No. 3:12-cv-01529-ADC, D. Puerto Rico; See April 2014, Page 9).
Employer Argues Employment Settlement Precludes Injury Claims
HATO REY, Puerto Rico - Claims that Safety-Kleen Systems Inc.'s Solvent 105 caused chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) are precluded by language in a "Confidential Negotiated Settlement Agreement" of an earlier administrative charge before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a former employer says in a May 21 brief seeking summary judgment in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico (Gerardo Campos, et al. v. Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., No. 3:12-cv-01529-ADC, D. Puerto Rico; See April 2014, Page 9).
Louisiana Couple Alleges Exposure To Liquid Wrench Caused Multiple Myeloma
NEW ORLEANS - Twenty years of exposure to benzene in Radiator Specialty Co.'s Liquid Wrench caused a Louisiana millwright to develop multiple myeloma (MM), the man and his wife say in suit filed April 24 in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (Carl Norred and Janifer Norred v. Radiator Specialty Company, No. 14-936, E.D. La.).
Judge Denies Monitoring, Future Medical Expenses In Criminal Pollution Case
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - Compensation for future medical expenses, court-ordered medical monitoring and relocation from allegedly polluted properties is not justified by the evidence, the Texas federal judge sentencing CITGO Petroleum Corp. for criminal pollution violations said in an April 30 sentencing memorandum (United States v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., et al., No. CR-06-563, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60172; See April 2014, Page 11).
Pipeline Company Says Expert Is Unqualified To Opine On Vineyard Value
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - A plaintiff's expert is not qualified to place a dollar value on the proposal to develop a "Zinnyard" on land contaminated by a pipeline rupture, a Canadian company whose pipeline burst, spilling tar sands oil laced with benzene into the Kalamazoo River, says in a May 15 motion to exclude in Michigan federal court (Fredonia Farms LLC, et al. v. Enbridge Energy Partners L.P., No. 1:12-cv-01005, W.D. Mich.; See January 2014, Page 9).
Church Resolves Claims Over Gas Station Leak That Contaminated Basement School
MILWAUKEE - A church whose basement school was contaminated by gasoline containing benzene and the owner of the service station where the leak originated have resolved their dispute, according to an April 2 stipulation filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin (Grace Christian Fellowship v. KJG Investments Inc., et al., No. 2:07-cv-348, E.D. Wis.; See April 2012, Page 10).
Pennsylvania Plaintiffs Sue Well Pipeline Operators For Loss Of Property Value
SCRANTON, Pa. - A natural gas extraction company and a natural gas pipeline company were sued April 9 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania for loss of use by property owners who allege contamination by a variety of substances, including benzene (Thomas Chaffee, et al. v. Talisman Energy USA Inc, et al., No. 14-690, M.D. Pa.).
Panel: Act-Of-War Defense Bars Claim Seeking Recovery Of Toxic Dust Cleanup Costs
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 2 affirmed a federal court's finding that the attacks on the World Trade Center (WTC) on Sept. 11, 2001, constituted an act of war, allowing the defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit to raise the defense against claims seeking reimbursement for cleanup costs of toxic dust (In Re: September 11 Litigation: Cedar & Washington Associates, LLC v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, et al., No. 10-4197, 2nd Cir.; 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 8293).
Shippers End Dispute Over Maintenance Of Benzene-Injured Seaman
NEW ORLEANS - Two shipping companies have resolved a dispute over which is responsible for what portion of the maintenance and cure of a seaman who asserted a claim under the Jones Act for benzene-induced aplastic anemia, a Louisiana federal judge said May 16 (Stephen Scott v. Cenac Towing Co. LLC, et al., No. 2:12-cv-00811, E.D. La.; See January 2014, Page 15).
State Courts' Rulings On Medical Monitoring Claims Have Broad Implications For Toxic Exposure Class Actions
By Peter C. Condron Michael L. Williams State courts increasingly have addressed the propriety of medical monitoring claims in recent years, and often have framed the controlling issue in terms of whether a state's common law tort principles could support recognizing the right to medical monitoring in the absence of a physical injury to the plaintiff. Although state courts are not positioned to address federal class action issues, rulings on the viability of medical monitoring claims have significant implications for toxic exposure class actions. I. New York Rejects A Cause Of Action For Medical Monitoring
Missouri Federal Judge Certifies Class Of Residents Near 1960s Pipeline Leak
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri federal judge on March 31 certified a class of West Alton, Mo., residents within a quarter mile of a 1960s pipeline leak but said the plaintiffs had failed to show actual exposure to benzene or lead necessary to justify medical monitoring (Bruce Smith, et al. v. ConocoPhillips Pipe Line Company, No. 4:11-CV-2040, E.D. Mo., Eastern Div.; 2014 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43172).
Kalamazoo River Oil Spill Parties Say Settlement Is Near
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - The Michigan federal judge supervising litigation over a ruptured pipeline that spilled tar sands oil laced with benzene into the Kalamazoo River ordered a 12th stay of class certification discovery on April 7 based on the parties' declaration that they had reached a tentative settlement in alternative dispute resolution (ADR) (Precious Holder, et al. v. Enbridge Inc., et al., No. 1:10-cv-752, W.D. Mich., Southern Div.; See March 2013, Page 9).
Magistrate's Limitations On Benzene Testimony Affirmed By Judge
DETROIT - A magistrate judge's rulings in the upcoming trial of claims brought by the widow of a Ford Motor Co. mechanic who died of leukemia were upheld April 15 by a Michigan federal judge (Judith A. Hendrian v. Safety-Kleen Systems, Inc., No. 08-14371, E.D. Mich., Southern Div.; See February 2014, Page 5).
Benzene Plaintiff Settles With Manufacturers Over Husband's Leukemia Death
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri woman who blames her husband's death from acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) on benzene exposure at work, at home refinishing furniture and doing farm work has settled her claims, according to a March 26 order in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (Joan Linton, et al. v. Owens Illinois Inc., et al., No. 4:12-cv-960, E.D. Mo., Eastern Div.; See August 2013, Page 7).
Crane Operator Settles Benzene Injury Claims With All Defendants
NEW ORLEANS - A former operator of construction cranes and other equipment who says his exposure to benzene on the job caused him to develop myelodysplastic syndrome has settled with all defendants, a judge said in an order filed April 21 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana (Thomas C. Dykes and Johnnie Dykes v. Shell Oil Company, et al., No. 13-4934, E.D. La.; See December 2013, Page 9).
Plaintiff: Safety-Kleen Objects To Legitimate Discovery Requests
PITTSBURGH - Plaintiffs alleging the development of myelofibrosis and myelodysplastic syndrome as a result of occupational exposure to benzene in Safety-Kleen Systems Inc.'s 105 Solvent have moved to strike objections to discovery requests, saying in a March 24 brief that the defendant has filed evasive and incomplete responses to interrogatories and requests for production originally made in November 2012 (Ruben Grigoryants and Mariana Grigoryants v. Safety-Kleen Corporation, No. 1:11-CV-00267-SJM, W.D. Pa.; See February 2013, Page 8).
Difficult Pregnancy Cited In Delays Of Discovery Documents
HATO REY, Puerto Rico - An attorney representing a man who says working with Safety-Kleen Systems Inc.'s Solvent 105 caused chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) responded to an emergency discovery motion March 21 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico, saying she is 25 weeks into a difficult pregnancy and has been placed on bed rest (Gerardo Campos, et al. v. Safety-Kleen Systems Inc., No. 3:12-cv-01529-ADC, D. Puerto Rico; See January 2014, Page 9).
Judge Requires CITGO To Pay Interest On Fines, Sets Deadline For Restitution
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A Texas federal judge on March 25 amended judgments issued in a criminal pollution sentencing to address the prosecution's concerns about potential restitution to residents claiming damages and to require the defendants to pay interest on the fines he had imposed (United States v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., et al., No. CR-06-563, S.D. Texas, Corpus Christi Div.; See March 2013, Page 13).