SAN FRANCISCO — While a couple did not comply with rules governing discovery in a dispute over a company’s failure to disclose a corporate representative, their failure did not alter the outcome or prejudice a defunct shipbuilder’s defense of an asbestos case, a federal judge in California held April 20 (John Newton Jones v. General Electric Co., et al., No. 17-5446, N.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Louisiana federal magistrate judge on April 23 determined that a disability insurer must supplement its answers to a disability claimant’s interrogatories regarding compensation paid to attorneys and physicians who advised the disability insurer during the administration of the plan participant’s claim, but said the disability insurer is not required to produce information regarding previously investigated and adjusted claims (Anne Wittmann v. Unum Life Insurance Company of America, No. 17-9501, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 68145).
HOUSTON — The discovery rule does not apply to a former judge’s asbestos torts claims act action against the county in which he worked, rendering his action untimely, the county told a Texas appeals court on April 18 (Jefferson County, Texas v. Ellarene Farris, et al., No. 01-17-00493-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
CLEVELAND — A judge should exclude from a jury trial a YouTube video of ballast cleaners taken well after a man’s alleged exposure to asbestos and at a completely different work site, the railway tells an Ohio trial judge in an April 10 filing (Kevin E. Howell v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. CV-15-846529, Ohio Comm. Pls., Cuyahoga Co.).
CHICAGO — Even though an Illinois federal magistrate judge found that Motorola Solutions Inc. did not waive attorney-client privilege by filing a trade secret misappropriation suit against a competitor, he held in an April 17 ruling that the privilege did not apply to an email sought in discovery because the message did not involve attorneys or legal counsel (Motorola Solutions Inc. v. Hytera Communications Corp., et al., No. 1:17-cv-01973, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 64095).
CLEVELAND — Failure to disclose that an insurer would not seek subrogation for medical expenses associated with treatment for a man’s asbestos-related lung cancer constitutes an “extraordinary violation” of the rules that cannot be exaggerated and warrants dismissal as a sanction, a railroad tells an Ohio court in an April 11 filing (Kevin E. Howell v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. CV-15-846529, Ohio Comm. Pls., Cuyahoga Co.).
BALTIMORE — In a dispute over an alleged life insurance fraud scheme that shifted debt to reinsurers, the parties on April 17 sought an extension from a Maryland federal court of deadlines for supplementation of expert disclosures and current discovery (Richard Dickman, et al. v. Banner Life Insurance Co., No. 16-192, D. Md.).
SAN FRANCISCO — A couple lacks sufficient evidence tracing a man’s mesothelioma to an aviation contractor’s products, and their conclusory statements regarding the potential existence of evidence do not warrant a continuance or additional discovery, a federal judge in California held April 16 (Joseph Thrash, et al. v. The Boeing Co., et al., No. 17-1501, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 63925).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 17 declared an already-argued case between the U.S. government and Microsoft Corp. over law enforcement’s ability to compel production of foreign-stored emails to be mooted by the newly passed Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act), which amended the warrant provision of the Stored Communications Act (SCA) at issue in the suit, leaving no live dispute between the parties (United States v. Microsoft Corp., No. 17-2, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 2495).
MIAMI — A drug treatment and urinalysis facility on April 12 asked a federal judge in Florida for sanctions and an order compelling production of documents from a second addiction treatment facility’s former medical director, saying failure to comply with a subpoena warranted the relief. The judge dismissed the center’s ERISA and state law claims just days before, saying the allegations lacked sufficient specificity to determine contract details (Living Tree Laboratories LLC v. United Healthcare Services Inc., et al. v. A New Start Inc., et al., No. 16-24680, S.D. Fla.).
BOSTON — A panel of the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts on April 13 affirmed a lower court judge’s ruling denying Exxon Mobil Corp.’s request to quash the state’s attorney general’s civil investigative demand (CID) for documents related to the company’s knowledge about fossil fuels and climate change, finding that she has personal jurisdiction over the case because the company has rights to control more than 300 retail franchisees in the state (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Attorney General, No. SJC-12376, Mass. Sup.).
SAN DIEGO — A California trial court did not err in granting terminating sanctions against a defendant in a defamation and misappropriation of trade secrets lawsuit because any lesser remedy would not have properly protected a credit union’s interests after the defendant deleted thousands of digital files that he was required to keep, a California appellate panel ruled in an April 6 unpublished opinion affirming the trial court’s determination (San Diego County Credit Union v. Carlton Roark, No. D071960, Calif. App., 4th Dist., Div. 1, 2018 Calif. App. Unpub. LEXIS 2332).
DES MOINES, Iowa — A magistrate judge improperly limited discovery in a case challenging a health insurer’s cost-sharing arrangement for lactation consultant services, plaintiffs told a federal judge in Iowa March 12. But the insurer fired back March 26, saying the ruling properly limits discovery to the lone remaining issue: whether the in-network coverage complies with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (Jillian York, et al. v. Wellmark Inc., et al., No. 16-627, S.D. Iowa).
NEW YORK — In a dispute over reinsurance proceeds allegedly owed to an insolvent insurer, a liquidator wrote to the New York federal court on April 4, proposing an amended phase one civil case discovery plan and scheduling order (Roger A. Sevigny v. Trygvesta Forsikring A/S, Trygvesta Forsikring A/S v. Cerberus Holding Company LLC, No. 16-04874, S.D. N.Y.).
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — A trial court judge in West Virginia erred when dismissing a couple’s construction defects lawsuit against their homebuilder as a sanction for improperly serving him with a subpoena, the state’s high court ruled April 6, holding that the sanction was too harsh (Terri Smith, et al. v. Robert Todd Gebhardt, et al., No. 17-0206, W.Va. Sup., 2018 W.Va. LEXIS 242).
SAN DIEGO — A California federal magistrate judge on April 6 granted a motion to compel a loan servicing company to respond to discovery requests, finding that discovery should continue in the case and that the servicer’s request to stay discovery should be denied (Zarah Kimble, et al. v. Specialized Loan Servicing LLC, No. 16cv2519, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 59231).
By Louis A. Russo and Oliver E. Twaddell
NEW YORK — New York’s top court on April 3 denied an asbestos-pipe defendant’s motion asking the court to reconsider its decision not to review an award of sanctions for the company’s destruction and loss of documents that the trial judge said demonstrated “gross negligence at a minimum” (Richard Warren v. Amchem Products Inc., et al., No. 2018-226, N.Y. App., 2018 N.Y. LEXIS 765).
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — In an asbestos coverage dispute, a New York federal magistrate judge on March 28 granted in part a reinsurer’s motion for reconsideration of a discovery ruling and ordered an insurer to disclose nonprivileged documents on coverage issues relating to primary and umbrella policies (Utica Mutual Insurance Co. v. R&Q Reinsurance Co., No. 15-cv-270, N.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Responding to the U.S. government’s motion to vacate an appeals court ruling over law enforcement’s ability to compel production of foreign-stored emails, Microsoft Corp. tells the U.S. Supreme Court in an April 3 brief that it doesn’t oppose the motion, agreeing that the newly passed Clarifying Lawful Overseas Use of Data Act (CLOUD Act) moots the already-argued case (United States v. Microsoft Corp., No. 17-2, U.S. Sup.).