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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®



 



U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Lago Agrio $18.5 Billion Fraud Case
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 19 refused to hear the appeal of a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney, who challenged a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. for injuries they had alleged were caused by the company's oil field operations in Ecuador (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16-1178, U.S. Sup.).



U.S. Supreme Court Refuses To Hear Flint Water Crisis Appeal
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on June 12 refused to hear a case brought by engineering firms that appealed a lower court's decision that residents of Flint, Mich., could obtain remand of their lead-contaminated water claims under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, et al., No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).



Attorney General Charges 5 Officials With Manslaughter For Flint Water Crisis
LANSING, Mich. - Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette on June 14 charged Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Director Nick Lyon and four other state and local officials with involuntary manslaughter in connection with their failure to act in response to the water crisis in Flint, Mich., which resulted in an outbreak of Legionnaires' disease and lead contamination.



Judge: Flint, Mich., Residents' Case May Proceed Against City, Other Defendants
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on June 5 ruled that a group of Flint, Mich., residents who sued the city of Flint and the State of Michigan for damages related to the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city could proceed with their claims for violation of bodily integrity against the city, its workers and employees of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ). The judge also said the plaintiffs' negligence claims were viable against two firms that were consultants on the decision to use the Flint River as a source of drinking water (Shari Guertin, et al. v. State of Michigan, et al., No. 16-12412, E.D. Mich.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85544).



EPA Inspector General Opens Probe Into Possible Collusion On Glyphosate Review
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The inspector general of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on May 31 sent a letter to a member of Congress indicating that he is directing an investigation in response to the congressman's request for a probe concerning reports that an EPA employee may have colluded with Monsanto Co. to conduct a biased review of glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup.



Judge Approves Administrator, Settlement Fund In DuPont C8 Contamination MDL
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The Ohio federal judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8) on May 25 issued an order appointing a lien resolution administrator (LRA) and establishing 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).



Panel Reverses, Remands MTBE Case; Requirements Of Res Judicata Not Met
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on June 12 vacated and remanded a summary judgment ruling in a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by a California water district against oil and gasoline companies on grounds that a district court's res judicata ruling was not appropriate because privity was not established (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation: Orange County Water District v. Texaco Refining and Marketing Inc. n/ka TMR Company, No. 15-3934, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 10412).



Firms: Stay Needed In Groundwater Case; Settlement May Adversely Affect Interests
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A group of law firms representing more than 300 plaintiffs in a groundwater contamination lawsuit on June 12 filed a brief in West Virginia federal court seeking to intervene and stay the case pending the approval of a tentative settlement on grounds it may adversely affect their interests (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).



3M Denies Groundwater Claims, Even As It Maintains That No Response Is Needed
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - 3M Co. on June 14 filed a brief in Alabama federal court denying liability for groundwater contamination and contending that the claims brought against it under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA), 42 U.S.C. 6901et seq., for "imminent and substantial endangerment" do not require a response, but if it were to respond, the company denies the allegations (Tennessee Riverkeeper Inc. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-1029, N.D. Ala.).



Residents Voluntarily Dismiss Tainted-Groundwater Case Against Fertilizer Company
TAMPA, Fla. - The plaintiffs who brought a groundwater contamination lawsuit against a fertilizer manufacturer in Florida, contending that their private wells had been tainted, voluntarily dismissed the case June 12, with no explanation provided (Nicholas Bohn, et al. v. The Mosaic Company, et al., No. 16-02724, M.D. Fla.).



Woman Voluntarily Dismisses Lead Drinking Water Case Against School District
PITTSBURGH - A mother who sued her daughter's elementary school contending that she was poisoned by lead and copper drinking water on June 14 voluntarily dismissed her lawsuit against the school district (Jennifer Tait, et al. v. Butler Area School District, et al., No. 17-182, W.D. Pa.).



New Hampshire High Court: No Error Shown In Eviction Related To Lead Paint Hazards
CONCORD, N.H. - The New Hampshire Supreme Court on May 11 ruled that a trial court did not err when it held that a couple that was renting a premises was properly evicted in connection with lead-paint hazards because they continued to work on the premises despite not being trained to deal with lead paint (Deborah Cutler v. Daniel Knight, No. 2016-0409, N.H. Sup.; 2017 N.H. LEXIS 114).



Landlords Seek More Than $1.59M From Verizon For Alleged Property Contamination
HACKENSACK, N.J. - Property owners filed a complaint in the Bergen County Superior Court on June 12 contending that Verizon New Jersey Inc. is liable for $1,591,435 in damages because it failed to remediate contamination on property it leased from the plaintiffs in breach of its rental contract (Joan Rudnick, et al. v. Verizon New Jersey Inc., No. L-4023-17, N.J. Super., Bergen Co.).



Firms Ask High Court To Hear Flint Water Lawsuit; Residents Say Court Should Refuse
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The engineering firms asking the U.S. Supreme Court to hear their case against residents of Flint, Mich., regarding liability for the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city on May 22 filed their reply brief contending 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 results in a circuit split that is "stark and wide." The Flint residents who brought the initial lawsuit say the Supreme Court should refused to hear the case (Lockwood Andrews & Newnam P.C. v. Jennifer Mason, et al., No. 16-1092, U.S. Sup.).



Chevron: No Legal Issue In Lago Agrio Case Warrants High Court Review
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Chevron Corp. on May 15 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that, with regard to the petition for writ of certiorari filed by a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney who challenge a fraud ruling with regard to an $18.5 billion judgment they previously won against the company, there is no legal issue warranting the Supreme Court's review (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16-1178, U.S. Sup.).



Defendant, Michigan Governor File Briefs Seeking Dismissal Of Flint Water Case
DETROIT - One of the defendants sued by Flint, Mich., residents seeking damages for lead-contaminated drinking water filed a brief in Michigan federal court on May 25, arguing that the complaint against it should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a cause of action. Meanwhile, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder filed a brief insisting that the case should be dismissed because he is immune from liability (Myia McMillian, et al. v. Governor Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10796, E.D. Mich.).



Municipal Water Agency: 3M, DuPont, Others Polluted Drinking Water Source
CENTRE, Ala. - A municipal waterworks and sewer authority on May 15 filed a lawsuit against 3M Co., E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co. and assorted other manufacturers in Alabama state court, alleging that they are liable for "negligent, willful, and wanton conduct" for the release of various toxic chemicals into the drinking water for Centre, Ala. (The Waterworks and Sewer Board of the Town of Centre v. 3M Company, et al., No. 13-CV-2017-900049.00, Ala. Cir., Cherokee Co.).



ConocoPhillips To Pay $39M To Settle MTBE Lawsuit
NEW YORK - A federal judge in New York on May 23 approved a $39 million settlement deal under which ConocoPhillips, a defendant in the multidistrict litigation for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), will be released from the litigation (In Re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, No. 00-1898, MDL 1358, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 08-0312, S.D. N.Y.).



Panel Partially Reverses, Says Groundwater Claim Valid Against Northrop Grumman
SAN DIEGO - A California appeals panel on June 1 reversed a ruling on groundwater contamination liability and concluded that it was "undisputed" that manufacturing sites operated by Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. contributed to groundwater contamination in a lawsuit brought against multiple defendants by a California municipal water authority (Orange County Water District v. Alcoa Global Fasteners Inc., et al., No. D070771, Calif. App, 4th Dist., Div. 1; 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 503).



Residents: Groundwater Case Against Fire-Suppressant Foam Makers, Sellers Valid
PHILADELPHIA - A group of Pennsylvania residents on May 22 filed a brief in Pennsylvania federal court arguing that their groundwater contamination lawsuit against a group of chemical companies should not be dismissed because their claims are "proper" and are not barred by the doctrine of primary jurisdiction (Hanah Bates, et al. v. 3M Company, et al., No. 16-4961, E.D. Pa.).



Company Drops Request For Protective Order; Inspection Chemical Tower Permitted
CONCORD, N.H. - A plastics manufacturer on May 17, pursuant to an agreement among the parties, voluntarily withdrew its motion seeking a protective order regarding the inspection of a decommissioned coating tower in connection with a lawsuit brought by residents who contend that the company contaminated their drinking water with perfluorooctanoic acid (also known as C8) (Kevin Brown, et al. v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corporation, et al., No. 16-242, D. N.H.).



Judge: Some New Evidence Allowed In Property Contamination Case
BATON ROUGE, La. - A federal judge in Louisiana on May 31 partially granted and partially deferred pretrial evidence motions in a lawsuit brought by homeowners against a developer that they allege is responsible for contaminating their properties with raw sewage, finding that there was no basis to exclude from evidence certain medical documents related to the alleged pollution (Cedar Lodge Plantation LLC, et al. v. CSHV Fairway View I LLC, et al., No. 13-129, M.D. La.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83690).



6th Circuit: Toxicology Expert Properly Excluded For Lack Of Reliability
CINCINNATI - An Ohio federal court properly excluded expert testimony that people living near a steel mill "will suffer harm to their health" due to elevated levels of manganese on their properties because the expert failed to provide "any actual proof" to support his opinion, the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held May 25 (Michael Abrams, et al. v. Nucor Steel Marion, Inc., No. 15-4422, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 9323).



School Officials: Lead Case Related To Drinking Water Should Be Dismissed
PITTSBURGH - Two Pennsylvania school district officials on June 1 filed a brief in federal court arguing that a lawsuit filed against them and the school district by a mother who alleges that her daughter was poisoned by lead and copper drinking water at the child's elementary school should be dismissed (Jennifer Tait, et al. v. Butler Area School District, et al., No. 17-182, W.D. Pa.).



Panel Reverses, Says Tenants In Lead-Paint Case May Compel Discovery From Landlord
NEW YORK - An appeals panel in New York on May 23 reversed a lower court's ruling and concluded that tenants who sued their landlord alleging injuries from exposure to lead-based paint had made a valid request to compel discovery pertaining to potential lead violations in the entire building where their apartment was located (Z.D., by her mother and natural guardian Zaimah A. v. MP Management LLC, No. 3436N, 26043/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3989).



Maryland High Court Reverses Lead Paint Ruling, Says Causation Evidence Sufficient
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A divided Maryland Court of Appeals on May 30 reversed and remanded a lead-paint poisoning lawsuit, finding that the plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence of causation (Terrence Rogers v. Home Equity USA Inc., No. 57 Sept. Term, Md. App.; 2017 Md. LEXIS 387).



Appeals Court: Tenant Fails To Show Causation In Lead Paint Poisoning Lawsuit
INDIANAPOLIS - The Indiana Court of Appeals on May 30 ruled that a woman who sued the owner of her rental house failed to establish causation that his negligence in allowing lead-paint hazards on the premises caused her grandson's injuries, which she contended included autism (Myra Duby v. Christopher Woolf, No. 84A05-1612-CT-2815, Ind. App.; 2017 Ind. App. LEXIS 224).



Judge: Agent Orange Benefits Properly Denied, But Veteran's PTSD Claim Valid
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on May 23 remanded a ruling by the Board of Veterans Appeals regarding a veteran's claims for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but ruled that his claim for injury from exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange was properly denied (Robert L. Federico v. David J. Shulkin, No. 16-0507, U.S. App., Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 744).



Judge Remands Agent Orange Case, Says Inferences From Medical Evidence Not Proper
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on May 19 remanded a decision by the Board of Veterans Appeals that denied a veteran's claim for benefits related to exposure to the herbicide Agent Orange on grounds that the board "is not free to make its own inferences from the medical evidence" (Jerry E. Van Es v. David J. Shulkin, No. 16-943, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 724).



Groups Files Amicus Briefs Urging U.S. Supreme Court Review Of Lago Agrio Ruling
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Environmental groups filed two amicus curiae briefs in the U.S. Supreme Court on May 1, arguing that the high court should hear the appeal of a group of Ecuadorian residents and their attorney, who challenge an $18.5 billion fraud judgment they previously won against Chevron Corp. on grounds that "Chevron's schemes in Ecuador and New York highlight why courts do not entertain collateral attacks on foreign judgments" (Steven Donziger, et al. v. Chevron Corporation, No. 16-1178, U.S. Sup.).



Plaintiffs' Discovery Request In Glyphosate MDL Is 'Unjustified,' Monsanto Says
SAN FRANCISCO - Monsanto Co. on May 5 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California arguing that it should deny the discovery request of a group of plaintiffs who sued the company as part of multidistrict litigation in which they allege that Monsanto is liable for their injuries from exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup. Monsanto argues that the plaintiffs' attempt to delay discovery is "unjustified" and amounts to "gamesmanship" (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).



Federal Judge Dismisses State Law Claims In Flint Water Crisis Litigation
DETROIT - A federal judge in Michigan on May 3 ruled that based on Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals precedent, he had jurisdiction over state law claims in a lawsuit pertaining to the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., and he amended a previous ruling to dismiss those claims along with federal causes of action (Luke Waid, et al. v. Gov. Richard D. Snyder, et al., No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).



West Virginia Couple Alleges Fraud, Has C8 Injury Case Against DuPont Added To MDL
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on April 12 transferred to the multidistrict litigation another lawsuit against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to 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).



Parties Seek Conference With Judge To Resolve Impasse In Radioactive Material Case
ST. LOUIS - The Missouri residents who contend that they have been injured by exposure to radioactive material and the company that they say is liable on May 11 filed a joint request for a conference with the federal judge in Missouri who presides over the case on grounds that they have reached an impasse regarding the deposition of expert witnesses (Scott D. McClurg, et al. v. MI Holdings Inc., et al., No. 12-361 [consolidated], E.D. Mo.).



Company Says Plaintiffs May Not Depose Its CEO In Fracking Injury Lawsuit
OKLAHOMA CITY - A company sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation filed an additional brief in Oklahoma federal court on May 5 contending that the plaintiffs cannot designate the company's CEO as a specific witness under federal procedural rules (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.).



Attorneys In Groundwater Case Seek $42.8M In Fees; 'Significant Risks Undertaken'
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The attorneys representing residents of West Virginia who are seeking approval of a $151 million settlement in a groundwater contamination lawsuit on May 8 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia, arguing that they are entitled to $42.8 million in attorney fees (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).



Halliburton: Orders In Related Case Should Be Applied To Groundwater Lawsuit
OKLAHOMA CITY - Halliburton Energy Services Inc. (HESI) on May 8 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court arguing that 10 prior orders issued in a lawsuit brought against it by residents who argue that the company is liable for contaminating their drinking water should be adopted in another lawsuit that asserts the same causes of action (Albin Family Revocable Living Trust, et al. v. Halliburton Energy Services Inc., No. 16-910, W.D. Okla.).



Parties Debate Expert Witness Exclusion Before 9th Circuit In Groundwater Lawsuit
PASADENA, Calif. - Attorneys for the City of Pomona, Calif., and a chemical company debated before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 10 whether the city's groundwater contamination lawsuit should be reopened due to the city's allegation that a district court improperly excluded some of the testimony of its expert witness while the court improperly permitted the defendant's expert to "confuse the jury" (City of Pomona, Calif. v. SQM North America Corp., No. 15-56062, 9th Cir.).



2nd Circuit Refuses To Overturn Ruling That Lessees Were Not Site Owners
NEW YORK - A Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 11 refused to overturn the ruling in Commander Oil Corp. v. Barlo Equip. Corp., 215 F.3d 321, 329 (2000), which sets out when a lessee can be considered an owner of a property under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) to reverse a federal judge in New York's decision to award summary judgment to defendant companies accused of contaminating a property with perchloroethylene (PCE) (Next Millenium Realty, LLC, et al. v. Adchem Corp., et al., No. 16-1260-CV, 2nd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8476).



Company: Court Should Compel Discovery Responses In Chemical Injury Case
ST. LOUIS - Doe Run Resources Corp. on May 5 filed a brief in Missouri federal court arguing that the court should compel the plaintiffs in a lawsuit alleging injuries from exposure to toxic chemicals to respond to requests for discovery on substantive liability (A.O.A, et al. v. Doe Run Resources Corporation, No. 11-00044, E.D. Mo.).



Kentucky Supreme Court Upholds Reliability Of Neurologist In Disability Ruling
FRANKFORT, Ky. - A neurologist used proper methodology and produced sufficient documentation to support his opinion that a man is suffering from toxic encephalopathy caused by his exposure to the chemical toluene in the spray paint he used at work, the Kentucky Supreme Court held April 28 in affirming a ruling on the man's disability in a workers' compensation case (Armstrong Coal Company, Inc. v. Nathan Attebury, et al., No. 2016-SC-000368-WC, Ky. Sup., 2017 Ky. Unpub. LEXIS 10).



New York Justice: Defendants Failed To Abate Lead Paint Hazards; Case Valid
BRONX, N.Y. - A New York state court justice on April 12 denied a motion to dismiss a lead-based paint poisoning case against two owner/operators of an apartment, concluding that they breached their duty to care for the plaintiffs by failing to abate lead-based paint hazards on the premises in the appropriate timeframe (Paola Lopez, et al. v. 506-510 Associates LLC, et al., No. 14040/2004, N.Y. Sup., Bronx Co.; 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 1688).



Judge: Board Ruling Denying Veteran Benefits For Exposure To Agent Orange Stands
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A federal judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims on May 5 affirmed a ruling by the Board of Veterans Appeals that denied a man's claim for benefits from exposure to Agent Orange on grounds that the board's decision was "not clearly erroneous" (Larry Clemons v. David J. Shulkin, No. 15-4195, Vet. Clms.; 2017 U.S. App. Vet. Claims LEXIS 662).