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Headline Pollution Liability Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



1st Circuit: Company Could Not Foresee Risk Of PCB-Containing Caulk
BOSTON - Pharmacia Corp. could not have foreseen that an additive it manufactured containing polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) that was used in caulk would have posed a risk to human health at the time the product was used in a Massachusetts middle school in 1969, a First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Dec. 8 in affirming a federal judge's dismissal of a town's claims for breach of warranty and negligent marketing (Town of Westport, et al. v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 17-1461, 1st Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 24827).



Judge Gives Group Limited Access To EPA Documents About PCB Contamination
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A nonprofit group on Dec. 11 was given full access to four U.S. Environmental Protection Agency documents and limited information in two agency documents regarding suspected polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination at the Santa Monica Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD) by a federal judge in the District of Columbia who found that the records did not contain information that was subject to the deliberative process privilege (Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-2056, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 203068).



Oregon Sues Monsanto, Seeks Over $100M For PCB Cleanup
PORTLAND, Ore. - The state of Oregon on Jan. 4 filed suit in state court against Monsanto Co., Pharmacia Corp. and Solutia Inc., seeking more than $100 million in damages to clean up contamination in the state's groundwater and soil resulting from the companies' manufacturing of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (State of Oregon v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 18CV00540, Ore. Cir., Multnomah Co.).



Washington High Court: Soil Testing Is A Remedial Action, Cost Recovery Limited
OLYMPIA, Wash. - The Washington Supreme Court on Dec. 21 found that a couple can attempt to recover the costs they incurred when investigating lube oil contamination on their property pursuant to the Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA), but a trial court judge must determine the amount, if any, a paving company must reimburse them (Harlan D. Douglass, et al. v. Shamrock Paving Inc., No. 94087-8, Wash. Sup., 2017 Wash. LEXIS 1149).



Montana High Court Finds CERCLA Does Not Preempt Restoration Damages Claim
HELENA, Mont. - A 6-1 Montana Supreme Court on Dec. 29 found that property owners who live near the Anaconda Smelter Superfund site can seek restoration damages for arsenic contamination on their properties after finding that the cause of action is not preempted by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Montana Second Judicial District Court, Silver Bow County, et al., No. 16-0555, Mont. Sup., 2017 Mont. LEXIS 730).



Judge: Consent Decree Bars Solvent Maker's Third-Party Contribution Claims
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y. - A federal judge in New York on Dec. 15 ruled that a solvent maker cannot pursue third-party claims for cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) against 58 companies that entered into a consent decree with the state of New York over contamination at a landfill, holding that the agreement bars the solvent maker's claims (State of New York, et al. v. Pride Solvents & Chemical Co., et al., No. 15-CV-6569, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 206678).



6th Circuit Says Association's Request To Intervene In Cleanup Suit Untimely
CINCINNATI - A Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 22 denied the Tennessee Valley Public Power Association's (TVPPA) motion to intervene in an appeal of a federal judge in Tennessee's decision to order the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) to cleanup a coal ash waste site, holding that the request was untimely (Tennessee Clean Water Network, et al. v. Tennessee Valley Authority, No. 17-6155, 6th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26330).



Group's Presuit Notification Was Sufficient In Suit Over Discharges, Judge Rules
SAN DIEGO - A federal judge in California on Dec. 8 refused to dismiss an environmental group's Clean Water Act lawsuit against the operator of a salvage yard, finding that the group's presuit notification was sufficient and that it adequately alleged that the defendant is failing to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for storm water discharges (Coastal Environmental Rights Foundation v. American Recycling International Inc., No. 17-cv-00425-BAS-JMA, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 202649).



Groups' Suit Over Discharges Dismissed Over Wrong Date On Presuit Notice
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - An inaccurate date on a notice of intent submitted by two environmental groups to the owner of a decommissioned landfill before filing a lawsuit under the Clean Water Act was fatal to their claims, a federal judge in Alabama ruled Dec. 18, holding that the notice requirements must be strictly adhered to (Black Warrior Riverkeeper Inc., et al. v. Metro Recycling Inc., No. 17-cv-01050-LSC, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 207011).



Judge Dismisses Groups' Suit Over Energy Company's Coal Ash Discharges
LEXINGTON, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on Dec. 28 dismissed with prejudice a claim brought by two environmental groups contending that Kentucky Utilities Co. (KU) is violating the Clean Water Act by allowing storm water containing pollutants from its coal-ash settlement ponds to migrate into a navigable waterway, holding that the discharges are not subject to the act's National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements (Kentucky Waterways Alliance, et al. v. Kentucky Utilities Co., No. 17-cv-292-DCR, E.D. Ky., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 212329).



Magistrate Judge: Recycling Company Does Not Need Stormwater Runoff Permit
CENTRAL ISLIP, N.Y.- A company that recycles demolished concrete, asphalt and masonry materials does not need to apply for a State Pollution Discharge Elimination System (SPDES) permit for storm water runoff, a federal magistrate judge in New York ruled Dec. 29, finding that the company does not engage in industrial activity that warrants the permit (Sierra Club v. Con-Strux LLC, et al., No. 16-4960, E.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 213309).



California Appeals Court Says No Special Causation Standard For Polanco Act Claims
SAN FRANCISCO - A California appeals panel on Jan. 8 reversed a trial court judge's ruling that a special causation standard applies to companies accused of being responsible parties for contamination under the Polanco Redevelopment Act, finding that a plaintiff must show only that the manufacturer's improper instructions on disposal were a factor in the contamination (City of Modesto v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. A134419, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 4th Div., 2018 Calif. App. LEXIS 13).



5th Circuit Affirms Gas Retailer's $58.4M Award From Settlement Agreement
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 14 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's decision to award a gasoline retailer $58.4 million under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, finding that the judge did not err when finding that the company was not excluded from the settlement agreement (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID 100211268, No. 16-31118, 5th Cir.).



5th Circuit Affirms Denial Of Oil Spill Claim For Related Transactions Revenue
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana did not err when refusing to review the denial of a man's claim for compensation under the Deepwater Horizon Economic & Property Damages Settlement Agreement, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Jan. 9, finding that a policy in the agreement excludes transactions that are not arm's length transactions as revenue (Claimant ID 100190818 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al, No. 17-30099, 5th Cir.).



Magistrate Judge Transfers Dispersant Exposure Injury Suit To Mississippi
NEW ORLEANS - A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana on Dec. 6 transferred to Mississippi federal court a lawsuit filed by man who claims that he developed reactive airways dysfunction syndrome as a result of his exposure to dispersants used to clean up the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, finding that moving the suit would be more convenient for his health care providers (Kevin Harriel v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 17-7024, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 200604).



Sierra Club, Company Briefs Dispute Liability For Groundwater Contamination
RICHMOND, Va. - The Sierra Club and a Virginia power company filed competing briefs on Dec. 7 in the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, arguing that a lower court erred in its ruling on the environmental group's groundwater contamination claim. The Sierra Club contends that the company should pay penalties and is liable for violations of federal law, while the company says it is not liable for any pollution (Sierra Club v. Virginia Electric & Power Company f/k/a Dominion Virginia Power, No. 17-1895, 4th Cir.).



New Jersey Appeals Court Affirms Company's $180,000 Penalty For Waste Violations
TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) did not err when imposing a $180,000 penalty against a company for illegally storing hazardous waste in violation of New Jersey's Solid Waste Management Act and Spill Compensation and Control Act, a state appeals panel ruled Dec. 20, finding that there was no evidence disputing that the defendant company was liable for the violations (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection v. Yates Foil USA Inc., et al., No. A-0874-15T1, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 3129).



Appeals Court Allows PDF Versions Of Spreadsheets In Attorney Fees Dispute
LAKE CHARLES, La. - An oil company that was ordered to remediate a property owned by a school board cannot have access to native format Excel spreadsheets the school board submitted in support of its request for attorney fees, a Louisiana appeals panel ruled Dec. 20, holding that while it is burdensome for the company to convert the files for searching, it is not clear how it would use the metadata to defend against the school board's request (State of Louisiana, et al. v. Louisiana Gas & Exploration Co., et al., No. 17-755, La. App., 3rd Cir., 2017 La. App. LEXIS 2381).



New York City Sues 5 Oil Companies Over Climate Change
NEW YORK- The city of New York on Jan. 9 filed a lawsuit in federal court against five oil companies, claiming that the companies are responsible for climate change and seeking to recover damages to the city's infrastructure (City of New York v BP PLC, et al., No. 18-CV-00182, S.D. N.Y.).



Insurer's Failure To Exclude Parties Was A Mistake, 3rd Circuit Says In Affirming
PHILADELPHIA - The Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Dec. 14 affirmed a New Jersey federal judge's ruling in favor of an insurer in an environmental contamination dispute after determining that the insurer's failure to exclude coverage to certain parties involved in the contamination dispute clearly was a mistake or scrivener's error (Indian Harbor Insurance Co. v. NL Environmental Management Services Inc., et al., Nos. 16-3262, 16-3293, 3rd Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 25277).



Insurer Properly Denied Coverage Based On 'Claims In Process' Exclusion
CHICAGO - An insurer properly denied coverage for environmental contamination cleanup costs based on the policies' "claims in process" exclusion because the damages for which the insureds sought coverage occurred before the inception date of the applicable policies, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Dec. 22 (Atlantic Casualty Insurance Co. v. Juan Garcia, et al., No. 17-1224, 7th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 26307).



Panel Says Insured Proved Existence Of Missing Policies In Contamination Dispute
CHICAGO - The First District Illinois Appellate Court on Dec. 29 affirmed a trial court's ruling that an insured seeking coverage for underlying environmental contamination lawsuits proved the existence of missing insurance policies under which it seeks coverage (The Travelers Indemnity Co., et al. v. Rogers Cartage Co., No. 1-16-0780, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Ill. App. LEXIS 829).



Court Properly Dismissed Insurer's Suit In Favor Of Insured's New Jersey Suit
CHICAGO - The First District Illinois Appellate Court on Dec. 27 affirmed a trial court's dismissal of an insurer's suit seeking a declaration regarding its coverage obligations for environmental contamination after determining that the trial court weighed all relevant factors before concluding that the coverage dispute should be litigated in New Jersey where the insured's suit is pending (The Travelers Indemnity Co., et al. v. Tate & Lyle Ingredients Americas LLC, et al., No. 1-17-1195, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 3rd Div., 2017 Ill. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2774).



Company Can Present Evidence On Drainage From Mining Tailings, Judge Rules
ROANOKE, Va. - A plaintiff company seeking contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) from an adjacent property owner can present testimony from an expert about drainage from mining tailings on the defendant's property, a federal judge in Virginia ruled Nov. 22, finding that the information is relevant (Dixon Lumber Co., Inc. v. Austinville Limestone Co., Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193189).



Judge Dismisses 3 Companies From CERCLA Suit, Finds No Evidence Of Arranging
DAYTON, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Nov. 30 awarded summary judgment to three defendant companies in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit after finding that there was no sufficient evidence showing that they arranged for the disposal of hazardous waste at a landfill (Hobart Corporation, et al. v. The Dayton Power & Light Co., et al., No. 13-cv-115, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 197856).



Magistrate Judge: Discovery Needed On Whether Company Is 'Dead And Buried'
DAYTON, Ohio - A federal judge in Ohio on Nov. 15 recommended denying a defendant company's motion to dismiss a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit on the ground that discovery is necessary to determine if the company is "dead and buried" and thus subject to liability under the statute (Garrett Day, LLC v. International Paper Company, Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-00036, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 188568).



Ohio Company Agrees To Pay $7.4M For Cleanup At Superfund Site
AKRON, Ohio- Dover Chemical Corp. on Nov. 7 entered into an agreement with the government in Ohio federal court to conduct $7.4 million in remedial costs to clean up contamination at a Superfund site in the state pursuant to the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (United States of America v. Dover Chemical Corp., No. 17-cv-2335, N.D. Ohio).



City Sufficiently States Public Nuisance Claim For PCB Contamination, Judge Says
SAN DIEGO - The city of San Diego has standing to bring a nonrepresentative public nuisance claim against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, a federal judge in California ruled Nov. 22, holding that the city sufficiently alleged that its municipal storm water system has been adversely affected by the presence of the chemical (City of San Diego, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193570).



MTBE MDL Judge Recommends Remanding Water District's Suit To California Court
NEW YORK - The federal judge in New York presiding over litigation stemming from groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) on Nov. 13 recommended remanding the Orange County Water District's (OCWD) lawsuit to California federal court, finding that all consolidated pretrial proceedings in the suit have been completed (In re: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether [MTBE] Products liability Litigation, MDL 1358, Orange County Water District v. Unocal, et al., No. 04 Civ. 4968, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187458).



Judge Adopts Recommendation To Deny Dismissal Of Groups' Suit Over Discharges
MIAMI - A federal judge in Florida on Nov. 17 adopted a magistrate judge's recommendation to deny dismissal of a lawsuit brought by three environmental groups over discharges from a nuclear power plant's facility, holding that the groups have standing to bring their suit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, et al. v. Florida Power & Light Company, No. 16-23017-CIV-GAYLES/OTAZA-REYES, S.D. Fla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190504).



Judge Orders Pig Farm To Allow Consultant To Continue Remediation Work
NEW BERN, N.C. - A federal judge in North Carolina on Dec. 4 ordered Smithfield Foods Inc. to allow a consultant to have access to 11 farms to continue to investigate how to reduce groundwater contamination, finding that the work is allowed under a consent decree the company entered into with two environmental groups (Waterkeeper Alliance, Inc., et al. v. Smithfield Foods, Inc., et al., No. 01-cv-27-H, E.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 198537).



Chicago Files Notice Of Intent To Sue U.S. Steel Over 2 Spills
CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Rahm Manuel announced Nov. 20 that the city filed a notice of intent to sue U.S. Steel for contamination to drinking water as a result of two spills from the company's Portage, Ind., facility that reached Lake Michigan earlier this year.



EPA Ordered By Judge To Respond To Group's Permit Petition By Jan. 31
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The Environmental Protection Agency must respond to Sierra Club's petition asking the agency to object to a proposed operating permit for a power plant in Tennessee by Jan. 31, a federal judge in the District of Columbia ruled Nov. 17 in granting the group's motion for summary judgment (Sierra Club v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-906, D. D.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190374).



New Jersey Panel Finds Agency Properly Issued Permit For Remediation Project
TRENTON, N.J. - The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) did not err when issuing a permit that allowed Princeton University to remediate a seven-acre site that was contaminated from previous pesticide use, a New Jersey appeals court ruled Dec. 1, finding that the notice provided to nearby residents was sufficient (Mark Smith, et al. v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, No. A-1684-14T2, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2017 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2970).



TransCanada: Keystone Pipeline Shut Down After Leaking 210,000 Gallons Of Oil
AMHERST, S.D. - TransCanada Corp. announced Nov. 16 that it shut down its Keystone pipeline after it experienced a leak in South Dakota that resulted in an oil spill of 210,000 gallons, or 5,000 barrels, of oil.



Georgia Federal Judge Awards Insured More Than $1.1M For Contamination Costs
ATLANTA - A Georgia federal judge on Nov. 3 awarded an insured more than $1.1 million for contamination claims arising out of the operation of a battery plant after rejecting the insurer's argument that the insured failed to meet the policy's deductible (ACE American Insurance Co. v. Exide Technologies Inc., et al., No. 16-1600, N.D. Ga.).



Illinois Federal Judge Says Exception To Pollution Exclusion May Apply
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Nov. 22 denied an insurer's motion for summary judgment as it pertained to the policy's pollution exclusion after determining that an exception to the exclusion for loss caused by a hostile fire may apply to provide coverage (Richard Building Supply I LLC v. The North River Insurance Co., No. 16-9053, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 193033).



Oklahoma Federal Judge Strikes Affirmative Defenses In Contamination Dispute
TULSA, Okla. - An Oklahoma federal judge on Nov. 17 granted an insured's motion to strike five of its insurer's affirmative defenses after finding that the individual counts asserted by the insurer are redundant (Explorer Pipeline Co. v. American Guarantee & Liability Insurance Co., No. 17-330, N.D. Okla., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 190550).



Judge Finds Mining Company Did Not Arrange For Disposal Of Mining Tailings
ROANOKE, Va. - A lumber company's attempt to recover response costs from a mining company that allegedly disposed of limestone mining tailings that contain arsenic and lead was dismissed by a federal judge in Virginia on Oct. 31 after she found that the defendant company was not subject to arranger liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Dixon Lumber Co., Inc. v. Austinville Limestone Co., Inc., No. 16-cv-00130, W.D. Va., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 179852).



Testing For Contamination Not A Response Cost Under CERCLA, Judge Says
NEWARK, N.J. - The purchaser of a site that formerly housed a landfill cannot seek to recover nearly $40,000 under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act and New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act, a federal judge in New Jersey ruled Oct. 16, finding that laboratory costs the plaintiff company spent to investigate the presence of contamination are not recoverable under the statutes (Strategic Environmental Partners, LLC v. New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, et al., No. 12-3252, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171156).



5th Circuit Finds Barge Company Owes Government $20M For Spill Cleanup
NEW ORLEANS- A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Nov. 7 affirmed a federal judge in Louisiana's ruling requiring a commercial barge company to reimburse the government for $20 million in cleanup costs it incurred following a July 2008 oil spill that occurred in the Mississippi River, finding that the defendant company was not entitled to a defense under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA) (United States of America v. American Commercial Lines, LLC, No. 16-31150, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 22260).



9th Circuit: Group Can Pursue RCRA Claim Over Storm Water Discharges
SAN FRANCISCO - The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act's (RCRA) anti-duplication provision does not preclude the statute's application to discharges of storm water from an energy company that also allegedly violate the Clean Water Act (CWA), a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Nov. 2 (Ecological Rights Foundation v. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, No. 15-15424, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 21597).



North Dakota: EPA Documents Call For Change In Cases Pertaining To Waste Disposal
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The state of North Dakota on Oct. 26 filed a notice of supplemental authority in District of Columbia federal court contending that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued documents that "represent a significant change" regarding litigation pertaining to the nondiscretionary duty under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) to review and, if necessary, revise regulations for wastes associated with the exploration, development or production of crude oil, natural gas or geothermal energy (Environmental Integrity Project, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-5010, D.C. Cir.).



Georgia Appeals Court Finds Agreement Does Not Provide Indemnity For Negligence
ATLANTA - A Georgia appeals panel on Oct. 31 reversed a trial judge's ruling that the predecessors of a company that sold a contaminated site to U.S. Steel Corp. in 1968 should be required to provide indemnification for remediation costs that resulted from U.S. Steel's negligence, finding that the terms of the agreement do not hold the seller liable for environmental damages that took place after the sale (Viad Corp. v. United States Steel Corporation, No. A17A0937, Ga. App., 5th Div., 2017 Ga. App. LEXIS 541).



Site's Ex-Operator Sues Ink Producer Over Cleanup Costs
MORRISTOWN, N.J. - The former operator of a contaminated site in New Jersey on Oct. 6 filed a breach of contract lawsuit in state court against the company that purchased its inks and pigment business, arguing that the buyer is required under an asset purchase agreement to indemnify it for $7.5 million in cleanup costs (Sequa Corporation v. Sun Chemical Corporation, No. MRS-L-002166-17, N.J. Super., Morris Co.).



5th Circuit Upholds Denial Of Royal Caribbean's Oil Spill Settlement Claims
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana's refusal to review the denial of 10 claims for economic losses submitted by Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (RCCL) under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement was upheld by a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 17, finding that the cruise line was not a member of the settlement class because its vessels were not home ported in the Gulf of Mexico from April 20, 2010, through April 16, 2012 (Claimant ID 100218776 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., No. 16-30849, 5th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20349).



Oil Spill MDL Judge Dismisses 25 Suits Due To Settlements, Releases
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana presiding over lawsuits stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig on April 20, 2010, on Oct. 20 dismissed with prejudice 25 cases after finding that the suits were settled or that the plaintiff released their claims after receiving payments from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, E.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173692).



Judge Dismisses Group's Clean Water Act Claim Over Permitting For Discharges
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on Nov. 2 granted in part a motion to dismiss filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, ruling that three environmental groups cannot claim that the agency failed to follow a nondiscretionary duty under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to require a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for dischargers of storm water runoff into three watersheds despite recognizing that the discharges negatively affect water quality (Los Angeles Waterkeeper v. Scott Pruitt, No. 17-CV-3454-SVW, C.D. Calif.).



Magistrate Judge: Nonprofit Energy Companies Sufficiently Stated Claims Over Costs
BATON ROUGE, La. - A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana on Nov. 3 denied Louisiana Generating LLC's motion for a more definite statement, finding that two nonprofit energy cooperative corporations sufficiently stated claims that the defendant company may have violated power supply and service agreements by charging them for costs associated with the remediation of environmental conditions at the Big Cajun II generating plant (Washington-St. Tammany Electric Cooperative, Inc., et al. v. Louisiana Generating, LLC, No. 17-405-JJB-RLB, M.D. La., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 182387).



Power Company To Pay $22.2M To Reduce Volatile Organic Compound Emissions
DENVER - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 31 announced that the federal government, state of Colorado and PDC Energy Inc. reached an agreement in Colorado federal court, wherein the company would spend $22.2 million to resolve allegations that its emissions contained excessive levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that violated the Clean Air Act (United States of America, et al. v. PDC Energy, Inc., No. 17-1552, D. Colo.).



Judge OKs $1.09M Deal For Remediation, Future Costs Due To Tainted Groundwater
FRESNO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on Oct. 13 ruled that a $1.09 million settlement in a lawsuit involving the release of perchloroethylene (PCE) into the groundwater supply was "fair and equitable" because it will provide remediation and future oversight costs for an area that was contaminated by a dry-cleaning business (Viola Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-cv-01257, E.D. Calif.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170002).



North Carolina County Sues DowDuPont For Contaminating Groundwater, Seeks Damages
WILMINGTON, N.C. - A county in North Carolina on Oct. 31 sued DowDuPont Inc., seeking an unspecified amount of punitive damages for allegedly contaminating the local groundwater supply by dumping toxic substances into the Cape Fear River while "assuring the EPA and state agencies that they were doing no such thing" (Brunswick County, North Carolina v. DowDuPont Inc., et al., No. 17-209, E.D. N.C.).



Magistrate Judge Grants Monsanto's Discovery Requests In PCB Contamination Suit
NEW HAVEN, Conn. - A federal magistrate judge in Connecticut on Nov. 2 ordered the city of Hartford and the Hartford Board of Education to turn over documents related to presentations that their expert performed regarding polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), finding that the information was not protected from disclosure by the work product doctrine (City of Hartford, et al. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv1544, D. Conn., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 181651).



9th Circuit Affirms Finding Of No Coverage For Environmental Claims
SAN FRANCISCO - No coverage is owed for underlying environmental contamination claims alleged against an insured because the policies at issue clearly preclude coverage for releases of pollutants that occur on the insured's premises and for releases of pollutants that are caused by third parties, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Oct. 19 in affirming a district court's ruling (Southern Nevada TBA Supply Co. d/b/a Ted Wiens Tire and Auto Centers v. Universal Underwriters Insurance Co., No. 15-16828, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 20561).



Oregon Waived Sovereign Immunity In Environmental Coverage Suit, Judge Says
PORTLAND, Ore. - Because the state of Oregon voluntarily filed a motion to intervene in an environmental contamination coverage suit, the state waived its right to assert sovereign immunity, an Oregon federal judge said Oct. 17 in rejecting the state's objections to a federal magistrate judge's recommendation to grant the state's motion to intervene (United Specialty Insurance Co. v. Clay Jonak, et al., No. 17-330, D. Ore., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172150).



Panel: Environmental Claim To Insolvent Insurer Is Barred By Res Judicata
NEW YORK - A New York appeals court affirmed on Oct. 12 that an insured's environmental claim submitted to an insolvent insurer is barred by res judicata and collateral estoppel, based on prior rulings on the same claim and issues (Northern States Power Co. v. Maria T. Vullo, No. 41294/86, N.Y. App. Div., 1st Dept., 2017 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 7195).



At Least 2 Occurrences Contributed To Contamination Of River, N.J. Judge Says
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey judge on Oct. 16 denied a motion for summary judgment filed by a number of insurers involved in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that at least two occurrences contributed to the contamination of a New Jersey river (Cooper Industries LLC v. Employers Insurance of Wausau et al., No. L-9284-11, N.J. Super., Essex Co., Law Div.).