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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®


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).

Residents Seek Damages From State, City For Flint, Mich., Lead Water Crisis
DETROIT - A group of Flint, Mich., residents on April 13 sued state and city officials in Michigan federal court, contending that they are liable for lead contamination in the city's drinking water for their respective roles in making the decision to use the Flint River as the water supply for the city without first ensuring that the pipes were protected against corrosion (Kimberly Gaddy, et al. v. City of Flint, et al., No. 17-11166, E.D. Mich.).

Flint, Mich., Residents' Claims Not Precluded By Law, Groups Tell 6th Circuit
CINCINNATI - The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and the American Civil Liberties Union on April 11 filed an amicus brief in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals arguing that the civil rights claims of the residents of Flint, Mich., related to lead-contaminated drinking water are not precluded by federal law pertaining to safe drinking water (Melissa Mays, et al. v. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 17-1144, 6th Cir.).

6th Circuit: Local Controversy Exception Not Applicable In Flint Water Crisis Case
CINCINNATI - A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 25 ruled that the local controversy exception to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) did not apply in a putative class action related to the Flint water crisis, and it reversed a district court's decision sending the case back to state court (Tiffany Davenport, et al. v. Lockwood, Andrews & Newnam Inc., et al., No. 17-1200, 6th Cir.; 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 7273).

2 More Glyphosate Cancer Cases Against Monsanto Transferred To MDL
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on April 25 transferred two more glyphosate injury lawsuits to the multidistrict litigation for Roundup products liability litigation in California federal court (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).

Man: Case Against Monsanto Should Not Be Stayed Pending Ruling On MDL Transfer
ST. LOUIS - A Missouri man who sued Monsanto Co. for allegedly causing his non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) through the manufacturing and distribution of glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup, on April 25 filed a brief in Missouri federal court arguing that the district court should reconsider the stay it issued pending a determination on transfer to the multidistrict litigation because the case does not need to be transferred (Steve Salvaggio, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 17-1113, E.D. Mo.).

2nd Circuit Dismisses Creosote Injury Case Brought Against Chemical Company
NEW YORK - A panel of the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 20 ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to decide a case in which a group of residents sued Tronox Inc. contending that they had been harmed as a result of exposure to wood treated with creosote at the company's plant in Pennsylvania (Avoca Plaintiffs v. Kerr-McGee Corporation; In Re: Tronox Inc., No. 16-343, 2nd Cir.).

New Jersey Residents: Case Against Smelter Is Valid
TRENTON, N.J. - A group of New Jersey residents on April 16 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court contending that their complaint against a refining company alleging contamination from heavy metals asserts valid claims (Juan Duarte, et al. v. United States Metal Refining Company, No. 17-1624, D. N.J.).

Woman: Company Liable For Husband's Cancer Death Due To Chemical Exposure
PITTSBURGH - A Pennsylvania woman who contends that her late husband died from exposure to various toxic chemicals while operating a printing press for a company that makes checks used by bank customers filed a lawsuit on Pennsylvania state court on March 29, contending that the company and its affiliates are liable for his death (Evelyn J. Hamilton, individually and as administratrix of the Estate of Joel W. Hamilton, v. Deluxe Financial Services Inc., No. GD-17-4439, Pa. Comm. Pls., Allegheny Co.).

Company Seeks Protective Order Preventing Deposition Of CEO In Battery Injury Case
OKLAHOMA CITY - One of the defendants sued in connection with injuries suffered by two workers when a lithium battery exploded during a hydraulic fracturing operation moved in Oklahoma federal court on April 17 for a protective order barring the deposition testimony of its CEO, contending that plaintiffs' counsel is deposing the executive in an effort to "harass" him (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.).

West Virginia State University Sues Chemical Companies For Tainted Groundwater
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Board of Governors for West Virginia State University on April 27 filed a lawsuit in state court against Dow Chemical Co. and a group of chemical companies, alleging that they are liable for groundwater contamination at the university "with three likely carcinogens" (West Virginia State University Board of Governors v. The Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 17-C-599, W.Va. Cir., Kanawha Co.).

Parties Ask Court To Approve $151M Settlement In Water Contamination Lawsuit
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Residents of West Virginia and a group of defendants filed a joint brief in West Virginia federal court on April 27, arguing that the court should approve a $151 million settlement deal reached among the parties in a groundwater contamination lawsuit related to the chemical spill of 4-methylcyclohexane methanol (MCHM) (Crystal Good, et al. v. American Water Works Co. Inc., No. 14-1374, S.D. W.Va.).

Residents: Claims Against Smelter Operator Should Be Combined Into 1 Case
OKLAHOMA CITY - A group of Oklahoma residents on April 25 filed a brief in Oklahoma federal court arguing that a district court's "way forward" of joining all claims against a zinc smelter related to groundwater contamination into a single trial "is the most elegant and thoughtful way to conduct an efficient and just trial" (Helen Briggs, et al. v. Freeport McMoran Copper & Gold Inc., No. 13-1157, W.D. Okla.).

Judge Remands Groundwater Class Action, Says Local Controversy Exception Applies
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas - A federal judge in Texas on April 19 remanded a class action lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination by a group of defendant chemical companies, ruling that the local exception to federal class action law applied (MD Haynes Inc. d/b/a Cici's Pizza, et al. v. Valero Marketing and Supply Co., et al., No. 17-6, S.D. Texas; 2017 U.S. Dist., LEXIS 59495).

Company: Causation Lacking In Lawsuit Related To Cancer From Benzene Exposure
ASHEVILLE, N.C. - A company being sued by a North Carolina man who contends that he contracted cancer as a result of groundwater contamination for which the man says the company is liable on April 17 filed a brief in North Carolina federal court, arguing that the case should be dismissed because the plaintiffs cannot show causation (Kent Stahle v. CTS Corporation, No. 14-48, W.D. N.C.).

Federal Jury Rules Against Residents In Groundwater Contamination Lawsuit
CHICAGO - A jury in Illinois federal court on April 13 issued a verdict against a group of residents who had sued two companies for allegedly contaminating its groundwater with vinyl chloride. The verdict sheet did not elaborate on the jury's decision (Village of Sauk Village v. Roadway Express Inc., et al., No. 15-9183, N.D. Ill.).

Judge Vacates Default Judgment In Groundwater Lawsuit Against Gas Station
NEW YORK - A judge in New York federal court on April 25 vacated a default judgment against an oil company that was a third-party defendant in a groundwater contamination lawsuit on grounds that there was "excusable neglect" with regard to its failure to answer the complaint and appear in court (White Plains Housing Authority v. Getty Properties Corp. and Getty Properties Corp., et al. v. Marianina Oil Corp., No. 13-6282, S.D. N.Y.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62705).

Judge Appoints Administrator, Special Master For DuPont C8 Injury Settlement Plan
COLUMBUS, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on April 12 issued an order appointing a claims administrator and a special master to oversee the master settlement agreement to resolve the multidistrict litigation 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).

2 Glyphosate Cancer Cases Against Monsanto Sent To California MDL
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) on April 13 transferred two more lawsuits filed against Monsanto Co. regarding cancer allegedly caused by exposure to glyphosate, the active ingredient in the company's herbicide Roundup, to the multidistrict litigation in California (In Re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741, JPMDL).

Pilots Who Sprayed Glyphosate In Ecuador Were Not Its Employees, Contractor Says
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A private military contractor on April 9 filed a brief in District of Columbia federal court contending that it is not liable for the conduct of pilots that sprayed herbicides in Ecuador and allegedly caused injuries to Ecuadorian residents because the pilots were not employed by the contractor (Venancio Aguasanta Arias, et al. v. DynCorp, No. 01-01908, and Nestor Ermogenes Arroyo Quinteros, et al. v. DynCorp, No. 07-01042, D. D.C. [consolidated]).

Groups: Monsanto Knowingly Misrepresents Danger Of Glyphosate In Roundup
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Two consumer advocacy groups on April 7 filed a lawsuit in the District of Columbia Superior Court against Monsanto Co., alleging that the company is liable for knowingly engaging in "deceptive labeling, marketing, and sale of retail Roundup 'Garden Weeds' Weed & Grass Killer products" because glyphosate - the active ingredient in Roundup - targets an enzyme that is found in people and pets (Beyond Pesticides, et al. v. Monsanto Company, No. N/A, D.C. Super.).

Family Files Product Defect Suit Against Lowe's, Maker Of Roundup
SPOKANE, Wash. - A family in Washington on March 21 filed suit in the Spokane County Superior Court against a store that sold a garden chemical sprayer, the maker of the sprayer and the maker of the chemical, claiming that they failed to warn about their defective products, which led to a woman getting ill from being exposed to the toxins in the garden spray (Tracy E. Mesecher, et al. v. Lowes Companies Inc., et al., No. 17201073-6, Wash. Super. Spokane Co.).

Judge: Experts Not Permitted To Testify In Benzene Exposure Lawsuit
OKLAHOMA CITY - A federal judge in Oklahoma on March 31 ruled that the testimony of experts on which a woman was going to rely in her lawsuit against oil and gas companies for injuries she allegedly suffered from exposure to airborne benzene did not meet the standard requirements for reliability of testimony (Samantha Hall v. ConocoPhillips, et al., No. 14-0670, W.D. Okla; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56458).

Company: Groups Lack Evidence For Alleged Injuries From Tainted Groundwater
TRENTON, N.J. - NL Industries Inc. filed a brief in New Jersey federal court on April 7, contending that environmental advocacy groups that contend that the company is liable for groundwater contamination lack evidence capable of showing that any alleged injuries are "fairly traceable" to any action by the company (Raritan Baykeeper Inc., et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).

San Diego: PCB Claims Against Monsanto Valid; Property Interests At Issue
SAN DIEGO - The city of San Diego and its port district on April 7 filed a brief in California federal court contending that their second amended complaint against Monsanto Co. regarding alleged contamination of the city's water system with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) should not be dismissed because the city has multiple property interests that are affected by the company's PCBs (San Diego Unified Port District, et al v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15-578, S.D. Calif.).

Judge Remands PCB Case Against Monsanto, Says Removal Was Improper
ST. LOUIS - A federal magistrate judge in Missouri on April 10 remanded a lawsuit brought by residents who contend that polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) manufactured by Monsanto Co. are liable for their development of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) on grounds that it was improperly removed to federal court (Kent N. Burford v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 16-536, E.D. Mo.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54293).

Town's PCB Claim Against Monsanto Fails, Judge Says; Expert Exclusions 'Moot'
BOSTON - A federal judge in Massachusetts on April 7 granted a motion for summary judgment dismissal of claims for breach of warranty brought by a town against Monsanto and its affiliates related to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in a school building on grounds that the town failed to show that an alternate design was feasible. As a result of that dismissal, the judge ruled that motions to exclude expert witness testimony were "moot" (Town of Westport v. Monsanto Company, No. 14-12041, D. Mass.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 53815).

Judge Dismisses Coal Ash Case To Allow Plaintiffs To File It In State Court
LOUISVILLE, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on April 12 dismissed a lawsuit brought by a class of residents who contended that they were exposed to hazardous chemicals from a coal-fired power plant so that the plaintiffs could file the claims in Kentucky state court. The judge declined to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims (Kathy Little, et al. v. Louisville Gas & Electric Company, No. 13-1214, W.D. Ky.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 56467).

Panel: Man Fails To Offer Sufficient Evidence In Lead Paint Injury Lawsuit
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A Maryland appellate panel on April 5 affirmed a trial court's decision to dismiss a lead-paint poisoning lawsuit against a landlord on grounds that the plaintiffs failed to sufficiently demonstrate that the defendant was liable for his injuries (Davon Usher v. Riggs Realty, et al., No. 1376, Sept. Term 2014; 2017 Md. Spec. App. LEXIS 355).

Tenant Entitled To Damages For Renting Home With Lead Hazards, Panel Says
CANTON, Ohio - An appeals panel in Ohio on March 31 ruled that a tenant who rented a premises that had been deemed uninhabitable due to lead hazards was entitled to damages from the landlord (Ohio Specialized Investments Ltd. v. Briona Campbell, No. 2016CA176, Ohio App., 5th App. Dist., Stark Co.; 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 1246).

Panel Remands Lead-Paint Case To Amend Judgment Awarded To Landlord
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York appeals court on April 5 remanded a lead-paint poisoning lawsuit and directed the trial court to amend the judgment on grounds that the judgment was not in the proper form pursuant to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (CPLR) (Rhonda John v. Rikud Realty Inc., No. 2015-11194, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept.; 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 2571).