Preview: LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Pollution Liability Legal News
LexisNexis® Mealey's™ Pollution Liability Legal News
Headline Pollution Liability Legal News from LexisNexis®
9th Circuit: EPA Did Not Act Capriciously In Approving Building Permit
SAN FRANCISCO - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator did not act arbitrarily or capriciously when approving a permit that allowed Sierra Pacific Industries Inc. to build a biomass-burning power plant at its lumber mill in California, a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled Sept. 2, finding that the agency properly considered the company's design and purpose for burning biowaste material (Helping Hand Tools, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 14-72553, Center of Biological Diversity v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 14-72602, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16262).
Mid Pac Petroleum Agrees To Spend $632,000 To Limit VOC Emissions
HONOLULU - Mid Pac Petroleum LLC on Sept. 7 agreed to spend $432,000 to install required vapor pollution controls and comply with a volatile organic compound (VOC) pollution limit at its gasoline storage facility, as well as pay a $200,000 civil penalty for violating the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced.
Judge Finds Company Liable For Violating CERCLA, HSCA; Costs Unclear
PHILADELPHIA - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Aug. 30 granted in part a motion for summary judgment filed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP), ruling that the purchaser of a contaminated site can be held liable under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and Pennsylvania's Hazardous Site Cleanup Act (HSCA) for response costs incurred after it took ownership of the property (Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Trainer Custom Chemical LLC, et al., No. 15-1232, E.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116139).
Judge Says Defendant Company Can Pursue Cost-Recovery, Contribution Claims
RENO, Nev. - A defendant company can pursue claims for cost recovery and contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) against a plaintiff and third-party defendant, a federal judge in Nevada ruled Aug. 26, holding that the third-party defendant was an operator of the site at issue and that the costs it seeks to recover are different from those sought by the plaintiff company (Diamond X Ranch LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 13-cv-00570, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114799).
3rd Circuit Panel Will Not Rehear Appeal Of Pollution Claims Against Flintkote
PHILADELPHIA - A two-judge panel of the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 declined to reconsider its decision rejecting an appeal by a corporate property owner seeking to hold Chapter 11 debtor The Flintkote Co. liable for pollution at an old New Jersey manufacturing site (8 E. Frederick Place LLC v. The Flintkote Co., et al., No. 15-2886, 3rd Cir.).
Rutgers Organics To Pay $20.2M To Cleanup, Restore Ohio Superfund Site
YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio - Rutgers Organics Corp. on Sept. 9 agreed to pay $18.75 million to clean up contamination at the Nease Superfund site in Salem, Ohio, and spend $500,000 to restore damaged natural resources, according to a lawsuit and consent decree filed in Ohio federal court (United States of America, et al. v. Rutgers Organics Corporation, No. 16-cv-02254, N.D. Ohio).
Magistrate Judge: Photos Show Defendants Polluted Creek, Violated Consent Decree
NEW YORK- A federal magistrate judge in New York on Aug. 16 ordered a defendant company and its owner to pay $50,000 to an environmental group and reimburse it for $79,776.39 in attorney fees and costs, finding that photographs submitted by the plaintiff group showed that the defendants violated the terms of a consent decree that prohibited them from committing any further violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA) (Riverkeeper Inc. v. Brooklyn Ready Mix Concrete LLC, et al., No. 14-cv-1055, E.D. N.Y.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 108357).
Judge: Damages Caused By 'Orphaned Anchors' Not Preempted By Clean Water Act
NEW ORLEANS - A federal judge in Louisiana on Sept. 7 ruled that three workers who were onboard an oyster harvesting boat that got caught on anchors left behind following response actions to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig can pursue claims for negligence under maritime law, finding that their claims are not preempted by the Clean Water Act (CWA) and not covered by the economic and property damages settlement (Brian Winkler, et al. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., No. 16-2715, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120541).
Magistrate Judge Says Man's Bladder Tumor Suit Should Be Transferred
NEW ORLEANS - A federal magistrate judge in Louisiana on Sept. 7 held that a man's lawsuit claiming that he developed a bladder tumor as a result of exposure to oil and dispersants during response actions following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico is better suited for the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana because it is where the plaintiff lives and where his medical professionals are located (James Worley v. BP Production & Exploration Inc., et al., No. 16-3620, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 121786).
Rhode Island Sues 34 Companies Over Water Contamination From MTBE, TBA
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The State of Rhode Island on Sept. 6 filed a lawsuit in federal court against 34 companies that sold gasoline containing the additives methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) and tert butyl alcohol (TBA), seeking to recover the costs for cleaning up groundwater contaminated by the chemical (State of Rhode Island v. Alon Refining Krotz Springs, et al., No. CA16-495, D. R.I.).
Alaska High Court Says Tainted Groundwater Case Not Barred By Statute
JUNEAU, Alaska - The Alaska Supreme Court on Aug. 26 ruled that a refinery owner's claim for indemnification against the refinery's previous owner, which was related to a lawsuit alleging groundwater contamination brought by a local resident, was not barred by the statute of limitations (Flint Hills Resources Alaska LLC v. Williams Alaska Petroleum Inc., et al., No. S-15654, Alaska Sup.).
Navajo Nation Sues EPA, Mining Companies For 2015 Spill Of Toxic Mine Water
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - The Navajo Nation sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several mining companies Aug. 16 in New Mexico federal court, seeking to hold the EPA and companies liable for a massive release of contaminated mine water a year ago that polluted the San Juan River, one of the tribe's "most important sources of water for life and livelihood" (Navajo Nation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 1:16-cv-931, D. N.M.).
2nd Circuit Affirms No Coverage Owed For Claims Arising Out Of Oil Spill
NEW YORK - The Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 8 affirmed that no coverage exists for an underlying lawsuit alleging claims against an insured as a result of an oil spill because the policies at issue clearly exclude coverage for the underlying claims (Petroterminal De Panama S.A. v. Houston Casualty Co., et al., No. 15-2941, 2nd Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16629).
9th Circuit Says Watercraft Exclusion Bars Coverage For Contaminated Fish
SAN FRANCISCO - The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 9 affirmed a judgment entered in favor of an insured on a breach of contract claim in a petroleum contamination coverage suit, agreeing with a district court's determination that a watercraft exclusion bars coverage for the insured's fish oil that was contaminated with oil while stored on a ship (Trident Seafoods Corp., v. ACE American Insurance Co., No. 13-36035, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 16595).
EPA Letter Constitutes Suit, Triggers Carrier's Duty To Defend, New Jersey Judge Says
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey judge on Aug. 30 granted an insured's motion for summary judgment after determining that a general notice letter issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency constitutes a suit under the terms of insurance policies at issue and triggers the insurer's duty to defend (Cooper Industries LLC v. Employers Insurance of Wausau et al., No. L-9284-11, N.J. Super., Essex Co. Law Div.; 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 2003).
New York Panel Says No Coverage Due For Time When No Insurance Was Available
NEW YORK - The First Department of the New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Sept. 1 determined than an excess insurer does not owe coverage to its insured for the time periods when the insured was unable to purchase environmental liability insurance coverage because the excess insurer's policies specifically state that coverage is afforded only for damages occurring during the policy period (Keyspan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., et al., No. 604715/1997, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 1st Dept.; 2016 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 5824).
Georgia Panel Affirms Judgment In Favor Of Insured, Says Coverage Was Triggered
ATLANTA - The Fourth Division Georgia Court of Appeals on Aug. 31 affirmed a trial court's judgment that an excess insurer owes coverage for environmental contamination arising out of a pipeline leak because the excess insurer's policy provides coverage for occurrences that arise during the policy period and does not require that the actual injury or property damage occur during the policy period (Columbia Casualty Co. v. Plantation Pipe Line Co., No. A16A0705, Ga. App., 4th Div.; 2016 Ga. App. LEXIS 496).
1st Circuit: Judge Did Not Err In Dismissing Couple's Suit Over Discharges
BOSTON - A federal judge did not err when entering judgment in favor of defendant landowners accused of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA), a First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 18, finding that a couple's citizen suit was unnecessary because the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) had addressed allegedly illegal discharges of contaminated storm water (Lois Paolino, et al. v. JF Realty LLC, et al., No. 15-1498, 1st Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13117).
4th Circuit: Corps Of Engineers Did Not Err When Issuing Mining Permit
RICHMOND, Va. - A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on July 8 affirmed the decision of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to issue a permit under the Clean Water Act (CWA) to Raven Crest Contracting LLC allowing the company to discharge fill materials, holding that the Corps did not have to consider the effects of surface mining on public health when issuing the permit (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, No. 14-2129, 4th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 12598).
Oregon Supreme Court: Groups' Permit Challenge Should Be Heard
SALEM, Ore. - A panel of the Oregon Supreme Court on July 14 reversed and remanded a Court of Appeals' decision finding that a challenge brought by two mining associations regarding a rule requiring them to obtain permits to conduct suction dredge mining was moot, holding that the appellate court should determine if the challenge is justiciable under Oregon Revised Statute (ORS) 14.175 (Eastern Oregon Mining Association, et al. v. Department of Environmental Quality, et al., No. SC063549, Ore. Sup.; 2016 Ore. LEXIS 463).
Judge Limits Citizens' Intervention In Clean Water Act Lawsuit
CONCORD, N.H. - A group of Portsmouth, N.H., residents can intervene in a lawsuit brought by the federal government against the city over its disposal of wastewater, but limited their involvement to the second modification of a consent decree that requires the city to build a second wastewater disposal facility (United States of America v. City of Portsmouth, No. 09-cv-283, D. N.H.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 90139).
Enbridge Energy To Pay $177M To Resolve Claims Over 2010 Pipeline Spills
DETROIT - Enbridge Energy L.P. and a number of its subsidiaries agreed July 19 to spend $110 million for a series of measures to prevent pipeline spills, pay a $62 million civil penalty for Clean Water Act violations, and reimburse the government for $5 million it spent to cleanup contamination from pipeline spills in Marshall, Mich., and Romeoville, Ill., in 2010, according to a recent docket entry in a Michigan federal court (United States of America v. Enbridge Energy L.P., et al., No. 16-cv-914, W.D. Mich.).
9th Circuit: Emissions From Smelter Do Not Constitute Disposal Of Hazardous Waste
SEATTLE - A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 27 reversed a Washington federal judge's ruling dismissing Indian tribes' claim under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that a Canadian company's emissions from its smelter cannot be considered a disposal of hazardous waste (Joseph Pakootas, et al. v. Teck Cominco Metals Ltd., No. 15-35228, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13662).
Judge Finds Petroleum Exclusion Bars Woman's CERCLA Claims
SAN FRANCISCO - A woman's Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit against Chevron Capital Corp. over petroleum contamination at a site in Oakland she purchased in 2010 that formerly housed a gas station was dismissed by a federal judge in California on July 19, who held that the statute's petroleum exclusion barred the woman's claim (Hong Jacqueline Nguyen Gardner v. Chevron Capital Corporation, No. 15-cv-1514-JD, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 94110).
Judge: Findings Failed To Determine How Painting Contributed To Contamination
PITTSBURGH - A federal judge in Pennsylvania on July 27 granted in part a plaintiff company's motion to clarify findings of fact and conclusions of law regarding contamination at a site in Greenville, Pa., explaining that the parties did not present evidence as to how the defendant company's painting operations contributed to contamination on the property (Trinity Industries Inc., et al. v. Greenlease Holding Company, No. 08-1498, W.D. Pa.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97824).
Chevron Mining To Pay $143M To Remediate Questa Mine Superfund Site
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - Chevron Mining Inc. (CMI), the federal government and State of New Mexico on Aug. 9 entered into a consent decree filed in New Mexico federal court in which the company agreed to pay $143 million to install a groundwater extraction system and remediate contamination from mine tailings at the Questa Mine Superfund site (United States of America, et al. v. Chevron Mining Inc., No. 16-cv-00904, D. N.M.).
Companies Agree To Pay $28.6M To Clean Up Georgia Superfund Site
BRUNSWICK, Ga. - Honeywell International Inc. and Georgia Power Co. on July 29 agreed to pay $28.6 million to remove and isolate contaminated sediment at the LCP Chemicals Superfund site in Brunswick, according to a consent decree filed in Georgia federal court (United States of America v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-112, S.D. Ga.).
5th Circuit Denies EPA's Motion To Dismiss, Transfer Appeal Over Haze Plan
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on July 15 denied a motion filed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to dismiss or transfer to the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals a petition filed by the State of Texas and a number of organizations challenging the agency's implementation of a regional haze plan, finding that it is the proper forum to hear the petitioners' case (State of Texas, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-60118, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 13058).
Volkswagen To Pay Additional $86M To California Over Emissions Defeat Devices
SAN FRANCISCO - Volkswagen AG agreed on July 7 to pay an additional $86 million in civil penalties to the state of California to resolve allegations that the car manufacturer installed "defeat devices" in its 2.0- and 3.0-liter diesel vehicles to evade emissions, according to an unopposed motion to enter a partial consent decree filed in California federal court (In re: Volkswagen "Clean Diesel" Marketing, Sales Practices, and Products Liability Litigation, MDL 2672, Case No. 15-md-2672, People of the State of California v. Volkswagen AG, et al., No. 16-cv-3620, N.D. Calif.).
Tesoro Corp., Subsidiaries To Pay $425M Over Allegedly Illegal Emissions
SAN ANTONIO - Tesoro Corp., Par Hawaii Refining and their subsidiaries on July 18 said in a consent decree filed in Texas federal court that they would pay $425 million to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) at six of their refineries in Alaska, California, Hawaii, North Dakota, Utah and Washington (United States of America v. Tesoro Corp., et al., No. 16-cv-722, W.D. Texas).
Cemex To Pay $11.6M To Resolve Claims Over Nitrogen Oxide Emissions
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. - Cemex Inc. entered into proposed consent decree in Tennessee federal court on July 27 in which it agreed to invest approximately $10 million on technology to cut emissions of nitrogen oxide at five of its cement manufacturing plants to resolve alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) and pay a $1.6 million civil penalty (United States of America, et al. v. Cemex Inc., et al., No. 16-cv-471, E.D. Tenn.).
5th Circuit: District Court Did Not Err When Denying Review Request
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 did not err when refusing to consider a car dealership's request to review whether the claims administrator presiding over the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) abused his discretion when finding that it was not a start-up business, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 11 (Holmes Motors Inc. v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 15-30860, 5th Cir.).
Oil Spill MDL Judge: 2 Plaintiffs Can Pursue Claims Against Responders
NEW ORLEANS - The federal judge in Louisiana overseeing litigation stemming from the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 on Aug. 2 ruled that only two plaintiffs can pursue claims for injuries they allegedly suffered while attempting to clean up and contain the spill as it was occurring, ruling that the remaining nine plaintiffs failed to sufficiently assert claims for relief (In re: Oil Spill by the Oil Rig "Deepwater Horizon" in the Gulf of Mexico, on April 20, 2010, MDL 2179, E.D. La.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 101175).
Union Pacific's 3rd Attempt To Stay Contamination Case Denied By Federal Judge
TACOMA, Wash. - A federal judge in Washington on July 6 denied Union Pacific Railroad Co.'s third motion to stay a lawsuit brought by a local municipality over remediation of contamination at the Lake River Industrial site, finding that the defendant company could simultaneously litigate the Port of Ridgefield's claim for contribution and negotiate a consent decree with the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) (Port of Ridgefield v. Union Pacific Railroad Company, No. 14-CV-6024, W.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 87619).
Judge: Company May Not Recover More Costs In Tainted Groundwater Lawsuit
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - A federal judge in California on July 13 ruled that a company that settled with a group of defendants for costs associated with cleaning up groundwater contamination from dense nonaqueous phase liquid tetrachloroethene (DNAPL PCE) is not entitled to relitigate its case to recover more costs from a separate defendant (AmeriPride Services Inc. v. Valley Industrial Service Inc., No. S-00-113, E.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist LEXIS 91119).
City Of Portland, Ore., Sues Monsanto, Alleges PCB Contamination Liability
PORTLAND, Ore. - The City of Portland, Ore., on July 12 sued Monsanto Co. and two of its affiliates in Oregon federal court, contending that the city's water supply and environment are contaminated by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and the company - which was the sole manufacturer of the chemical compound - concealed the truth about its toxicity from the public and government (City of Portland, Ore. v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 16-1418, D. Ore.).
Groups: Penalties Warranted Against Power Company For Tainted Groundwater
MIAMI - Environmental advocacy groups on July 12 filed a complaint in the Florida federal court against a power company that they argue has violated federal law and contaminated groundwater and local waterways with discharge of industrial wastewater (Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, et al. v. Florida Power & Light Company, No. 16-23017, S.D. Fla.).
Questions Of Fact Exist As To Whether Measures Are Remediation Costs, Panel Says
NEW ORLEANS - The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Aug. 4 vacated a Louisiana federal judge's ruling in favor of an insured seeking coverage for mitigation projects undertaken to address alleged violations of the Clean Air Act (CAA) because questions of fact exist as to whether the measures undertaken by the insured are "remediation costs" as defined by the policy at issue (Louisiana Generating LLC, et al. v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., et al., No. 15-30914, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 14344).
Pollution Exclusion Is Ambiguous, Does Not Bar Coverage, Federal Judge Says
HAMMOND, Ind. - Because a pollution exclusion does not define what constitutes pollution or contamination, the exclusion is ambiguous and cannot be construed as a bar to coverage, an Indiana federal judge determined July 25 in denying the insurer's motion for summary judgment (Old Republic Insurance Co. v. Gary/Chicago International Airport Authority, No. 15-281, N.D. Ind.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 96361).
New Jersey Panel Allows Claims Related To Contamination That Predate Sale Of Company
TRENTON, N.J. - A company successor is entitled to allege claims for breach of contract and breach of the duty of good faith and fair dealing as long as those claims pertain to coverage for environmental contamination that predated the successor's acquisition of the insured's company, the Appellate Division of the New Jersey Superior Court said Aug. 4 (Haskell Properties LLC v. The American Insurance Co., et al., No. A-1452-14T2, N.J. Super., App. Div.; 2016 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 1836).
Washington Appeals Panel Says Judgment In Insured's Favor Is Supported By Evidence
TACOMA, Wash. - A Washington judge did not err in finding that an insured is entitled to coverage for groundwater contamination at two of its sites because the evidence clearly supports the trial judge's rulings, the Division II Washington Court of Appeals said Aug. 2 (The Port of Longview v. Arrowood Indemnity Co., et al., No. No. 46654-6-II, Wash. App., Div. 2; 2016 Wash. App. LEXIS 1821).
Interlocutory Review Allowed; Delaware Judge Says Choice- Of-Law Issue Warrants Review
WILMINGTON, Del. - A Delaware state judge on July 20 granted a motion for interlocutory appeal filed by insurers in an environmental contamination coverage suit after determining that the choice-of-law issue is a substantial issue of material importance that warrants review by an appellate court (Chemtura Corp. v. Certain Underwriters at CCLC Lloyd's, et al., No. N14C-12-210, Del. Super., New Castle Co.; 2016 Del. Super. LEXIS 351).
5th Circuit Orders Judge To Assess Penalties For ExxonMobil's Emissions
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 27 vacated a federal judge in Texas' ruling that although ExxonMobil Corp. committed 94 actionable offenses for emissions that violated the Clean Air Act (CAA), it should not be penalized and ordered the judge to assess penalties against the company, finding that the judge erred in his analysis of the defendant company's liability (Environment Texas Citizen Lobby Inc., et al. v. ExxonMobil Corporation, et al., No. 15-20030, 5th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9751).
8th Circuit Affirms Dismissal Of Steel Mill's Suit Over Construction Permits
ST. LOUIS - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 8 ruled that a federal judge in Arkansas did not err when dismissing for lack of jurisdiction a lawsuit brought by two steel companies claiming that a competitor violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when it obtained permits to build a steel recycling plant, holding that the plaintiff companies' suit constituted a collateral attack on the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality's (ADEQ) decision to issue the permit (Nucor Steel-Arkansas, et al. v. Big River Steel LLC, No. 15-1615, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 10342).
Judge Stays Kentucky AG's Suit Against Volkswagen Pending Panel's Decision
FRANKFORT, Ky. - A federal judge in Kentucky on May 25 granted Volkswagen Group of America's motion to stay a lawsuit brought by the Attorney General of Kentucky over the car maker's alleged installation of a device designed to defeat emissions tests, ruling that the case should not proceed until the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) decides on whether it should be transferred to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California (Andy Beshear, Attorney General, ex rel. Commonwealth of Kentucky v. Volkswagen Group of America, et al., No. 16-cv-27-GFVT, E.D. Ky.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68543).
Federal Judge Remands Volkswagen Emissions Suits, Finds No Federal Question
ROANOKE, Va. - A federal judge in Virginia on May 31 remanded two lawsuits against Volkswagen Group of America Inc. over its alleged implementation of software designed to cheat emissions tests, ruling that the plaintiffs' claims do not raise a federal question (Willard Claytor, et al. v. Volkswagen Group of America Inc., Nos. 16CV00197, 16CV00198, W.D. Va.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 71037).
5th Circuit Upholds Oil Spill MDL Judge's Ruling Sanctioning Attorneys, Firm
NEW ORLEANS - A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 2 overruled arguments from two attorneys seeking reversal of an order barring them from participating in the Court-Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, after finding that the judge presiding over the litigation did not impose a "professional death sentence" when finding that the attorneys violated the Louisiana Rules of Professional Conduct (In re Deepwater Horizon: Glen J. Lerner, et al. v. Louis J. Freeh, No. 15-30265, 5th Cir.).
Supreme Court Denies Exxon's Challenge To MTBE Ruling In New Hampshire Cost Feud
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Supreme Court on May 16 denied certiorari to Exxon Mobil Corp. (EMC) in its dispute with the State of New Hampshire regarding cleanup costs for groundwater contamination from methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE), refusing to hear the company's argument that it had been deprived of due process (Exxon Mobil Corporation, et al. v. State of New Hampshire, No. 15-933, U.S. Sup.).
Massachusetts High Court Finds Leaded Gasoline Not Subject To Oil Exemption
BOSTON - The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on June 6 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to the state's Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in a declaratory judgment action, after finding that the agency did not err in finding that leaded gasoline is not subject to the "oil exemption" in the Massachusetts Oil and Hazardous Material Release Prevention and Response Act, which establishes regulations for the cleanup of spills of hazardous materials near public water supplies (Peterborough Oil Company LLC v. Department of Environmental Protection, No. 2015-P-0199, Mass. Sup.; 2016 Mass. LEXIS 360).
Magistrate Judge: Portions Of Brief Can Be Redacted; No Need To Seal
RENO, Nev. - A federal magistrate judge in Nevada on June 3 denied a plaintiff company's motion to seal briefing on Atlantic Richfield Co.'s (ARCO) request for the production of an appraisal document, finding that only portions of a response brief that reference potentially privileged information should be redacted (Diamond X Ranch LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Company, No. 13-cv-00570, D. Nev.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72661).
Group Says EPA Erred In Approving Replacement Standards For Montana Water
GREAT FALLS, Mont. - Upper Missouri Waterkeeper sued the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and its administrator in a Montana federal court on May 31, contending that the agency violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) and Administrative Procedure Act when approving replacement standards for water quality in the state (Upper Missouri Waterkeeper v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-cv-, D. Mont.).
8th Circuit Panel: General Mills Contamination Class Lacks Commonality
ST. PAUL, Minn. - An Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 20 reversed certification of a class of homeowners in a Minneapolis neighborhood who have sued General Mills Inc. for environmental contamination, finding that the class lacks requisite commonality and cohesiveness (Karl Ebert, et al. v. General Mills, Inc., No. 15-1735, 8th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9233).
Genuine Dispute As To Duty To Defend Exists, 9th Circuit Panel Says
SAN FRANCISCO - Because there is a genuine dispute of fact as to whether an insurer has a duty to defend its insureds against underlying environmental contamination claims arising out of their operation of a dry cleaning business, an insurer was not entitled to summary judgment in its favor, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 17 (Hollyway Cleaners & Laundry Co., et al. v. Central National Insurance Company of Omaha Inc., No. 15-55973, 9th Cir.; 2016 U.S. App. LEXIS 9022).
Washington Federal Judge Says Excess Insurer's Policy Will Likely Be Triggered
SEATTLE - Because it is likely that an excess insurer's policy will be triggered in an environmental contamination coverage dispute, a Washington federal judge on May 27 denied the excess insurer's motion for summary judgment as it pertained to the insured's claim for declaratory judgment (Seattle Times Co. v. National Surety Corp. et al., No. 13-1463, W.D. Wash.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69981).
Illinois Federal Judge Denies Motion To Reconsider Contamination Coverage Suit
CHICAGO - An Illinois federal judge on June 2 denied an insured's motion for reconsideration and reiterated that there is no causal connection alleged in an underlying contamination complaint between the allegations of wrongful entry of pollutants onto a site and the damages sought by the underlying plaintiff (John Sexton Sand & Gravel Corp. v. National Union Fire Insurance Company of Pittsburgh, Pa., et al., No. 14-9827, N.D. Ill.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72015).
Pollution Exclusion Bars Coverage For Contamination Claims, Federal Judge Says
SAN FRANCISCO - A California federal judge on June 3 determined that a commercial general liability policy's pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage for underlying environmental contamination claims filed against an insured; however, the judge said a potential for coverage exists under the applicable business auto policies (American Guarantee and Liability Insurance Co., et al. v. Technichem Inc., et al., No. 15-03611, N.D. Calif.; 2016 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 72793).