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Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Pollution Liability Legal News

LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Pollution Liability Legal News



Headline Pollution Liability Legal News from LexisNexis®



 



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.).



9th Circuit: Storage Of Hazardous Waste Is A Crime Of General Intent
SEATTLE - A federal judge in Idaho did not err when excluding a man's evidence pertaining to his diminished capacity, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 13, holding that the storage of hazardous waste in violation of the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act is a crime of general intent (United States of America v. Max Spatig, No. 15-30322, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17800).



Judge Denies Injunction In Groundwater Contamination Case Against GE
CHICAGO - A federal judge in Illinois on Sept. 7 denied a motion for a mandatory permanent injunction sought by a company suing General Electric Co. for contaminating its groundwater (LAJIM LLC, et al. v. General Electric Co., No. 13-50348, N.D. Ill.; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144704).



9th Circuit Reverses Ruling Finding Government Owes Nothing For Cleanup Costs
PASADENA, Calif. - A federal judge in California erred when finding that the federal government does not have to contribute toward the cleanup of a 44-acre site used by a military contractor hired to manufacture aircraft and aircraft parts, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Oct. 4, holding that the judge misapplied two earlier rulings that addressed how cleanup costs between military contractors and the government (TDY Holdings, LLC v. United States of America, No. 15-56483, 9th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 19371).



Judge Approves $10.32M Deal Between EPA, Smelter Operators To Pay Cleanup Costs
TULSA, Okla. - A federal judge in Oklahoma on Sept. 26 approved a consent decree in which two companies will pay a combined $10,323,727 to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Oklahoma for remediation costs associated with lead and zinc contamination of soil and groundwater (United States of America, et al. v. Doe Run Resources Corporation, et al., No. 15-CV-0663-CVE-TLW, N.D. Okla.; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 157505).



Judge Awards Property Owner $391,719 To Clean Up Contamination, Limits Fees
LOS ANGELES - A federal judge in California on Sept. 28 granted a property owner's motion for default judgment and awarded it $391,719.74 to remediate contamination caused by a company that leased the land to operate a chemical etching business and found that the plaintiff was entitled to only $11,434.39 in attorney fees (Limo Company v. Chemical Milling International Corporation, No. 17-cv-02345-SVW-RAO, C.D. Calif., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 161310).



Expert Qualified To Testify On Cleanup Costs' Reasonableness, Judge Says
SALT LAKE CITY - An engineer can proffer testimony that Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) spent approximately $4.4 million to $5.6 million in unnecessary costs when responding to two oil spills in 2010, a federal judge in Utah ruled Sept. 7, finding that he is qualified and that the methodology underlying his opinion is reliable (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah).



Judge Refuses To Conduct 'Autopsy' Of Settlement Over Pipeline Spill
SALT LAKE CITY - A federal judge in Utah on Sept. 6 granted a motion for partial summary judgment filed by Pacificorp, doing business as Rocky Mountain Power, that precludes Chevron Pipeline Co. (CPL) from obtaining a portion of a settlement it paid to homeowners affected by a 2010 oil spill, finding that such relief would require the judge to perform an "autopsy" of the settlement (Chevron Pipeline Company v. Pacificorp, No. 12-CV-287, D. Utah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144260).



Judge Refuses To Challenge Validity Of State Agency's Radon Emissions Findings
SALT LAKE CITY - A federal judge in Utah on Sept. 15 awarded summary judgment to a uranium mining company after refusing to challenge the validity of a state agency's findings that the company's radon emissions were excessive and in violation of the Clean Air Act (CAA) (Grand Canyon Trust v. Energy Fuel Resources [U.S.A.] Inc., et al., No. 14-cv-243, D. Utah, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150279).



EPA Files Proposed Rule To Repeal Clean Power Plan
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Oct. 10 announced that Administrator Scott Pruitt has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking that would repeal the Clean Power Plan (CPP), which was unveiled by President Barack Obama in 2015 to reduce carbon emissions and greenhouse gas emissions.



5th Circuit Finds Tax Credit Company Ineligible To Receive BP Settlement Money
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 22 found that a film tax credit company is ineligible to receive funds from the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Class Action Settlement because it qualifies as a financial services business that is not included in the settlement agreement (Claimant ID 100153748 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 16-31079, 5th Cir.).



Lack Of Expert Evidence Dooms Man's Injury Suit Over Oil Dispersant Exposure
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. - A federal judge in Alabama on Sept. 25 awarded summary judgment to BP Exploration & Production Inc. after finding that a man's failure to produce expert evidence linking his exposure to chemical dispersants used during cleanup activities following the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that occurred after the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon was fatal to his suit (Robert James Townsend v. BP Exploration & Production, Inc., et al., No. 16-CV-301, N.D. Ala., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156252).



Judge Finds Mining Company In Contempt Over Arsenic, Iron Discharges
BOISE, Idaho - A federal judge in Idaho on Sept. 15 ordered Atlanta Gold Corp. to pay $251,000 as a civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act and pay $251,000 in sanctions for failing to comply with prior court orders requiring the company to limit the amount of arsenic and iron in discharges from its mining operations, finding that the company can find reasonable solutions to comply with its National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit (Idaho Conservation League, et al. v. Atlanta Gold Corporation, No. 11-cv-00161, D. Idaho, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 150437).



Magistrate Judge Says Groups' Clean Water Act Suit Should Survive Dismissal
MIAMI - A lawsuit filed by three environmental groups over discharges from a nuclear power plant's facility should not be dismissed, a federal magistrate judge in Florida ruled Sept. 20, finding that the groups' allegations over violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) can be redressed if they prevail (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 154361).



Judge Adopts Ruling Allowing Portland's Public Nuisance Claim Against Monsanto
PORTLAND, Ore. - A federal judge in Oregon on Sept. 22 adopted a magistrate judge's April 18 ruling allowing the city of Portland to pursue a public nuisance claim against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination, holding that the city is not required to own property to allege that it has suffered a special injury (City of Portland v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 16-cv-01418-PK, D. Ore., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 156370).



Judge Allows Monsanto To Add Counterclaims In PCB Contamination Suit
SEATTLE - Monsanto Co.'s counterclaim for unjust enrichment against the city of Seattle over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination in the Lower Duwamish River is not futile, a federal judge in Washington ruled Sept. 6 in granting the defendant company's motion to amend its answer and counterclaims (City of Seattle v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. C16-107RSL, W.D. Wash., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 144382).



New York Federal Jury Finds Amtrak Is Owed $14.3M For Contamination Cleanup Claims
BROOKLYN, N.Y. - A New York federal jury on Sept. 27 entered a $14.3 million verdict in favor of Amtrak and against its insurers after finding that the insurers owe coverage for environmental contamination cleanup costs incurred by Amtrak (Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's, et al. v. National Railroad Passenger Corp., et al., No. 14-4717, E.D. N.Y.).



Expert Testimony Excluded; Insurer Granted Summary Judgment On Pollution Exclusion
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on Sept. 25 granted an insurer's motion on the applicability of the pollution exclusion after determining that testimony offered by the insured's expert on the contamination at two of the insured's sites must be excluded because the expert's testimony does not support the insured's argument that the contamination was sudden and accidental as required for coverage to exist under the policies at issue (Varlen Corp. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 13-5463, N.D. Ill., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162110).



Rhode Island Federal Judge: Effluent Is Not Excluded By Pollution Exclusion
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A Rhode Island federal judge on Sept. 26 rejected an insurer's argument that coverage for an underlying lawsuit alleging property damage as a result of the insured's impermissible drainage of water and effluent from an apartment complex is barred by a policy's pollution exclusion because the definition of pollution in the policy does not include effluent as an excluded pollutant (GeoVera Specialty Insurance Co. v. Kurt Poulton, No. 16-432, D. R.I., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 165539).



Carrier Did Not Prove Omission Of Pollution Exclusion Was Mutual Mistake, Judge Says
ATLANTA - A Georgia federal judge on Sept. 19 rejected an insurer's argument that the omission of a pollution exclusion from its policy was a mutual mistake and found that the insurer owes coverage for contamination claims arising out of the operation of a battery plant because the insured met the policy's deductible (ACE American Insurance Co. v. Exide Technologies Inc., et al., No. 16-1600, N.D. Ga.).



Ohio Federal Judge Denies Motion To Dismiss, Says Release Was Pollution Incident
COLUMBUS, Ohio - An Ohio federal judge on Sept. 19 denied an insurer's motion to dismiss after determining that the insured sufficiently alleged facts to support its claim that the release of hazardous waste was a pollution incident under the terms of the policy at issue (Olymbec USA LLC v. Aspen Specialty Insurance Co., et al., No. 16-948, S.D. Ohio, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 152083).