PORTLAND, Ore. — An insurer contends in a Feb. 18 complaint filed in Oregon federal court that another insurer must pay additional defense and indemnity costs on behalf of a mutual insured for environmental contamination costs incurred by the insured because the other insurer failed to properly allocate its responsibility for the insured’s costs based on additional policies issued by the other insurer and discovered after the insurers entered into a cost-sharing agreement.
HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on March 5 denied a motion by energy companies seeking to stay the remand of two lawsuits brought by municipalities in the state over infrastructure damages stemming from climate change, finding that the companies should be given only 10 days to ask the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals if it will stay the issuance of its mandate in a similar case that found the case better suited for state court.
POCATELLO, Idaho — An Idaho federal court on March 5 consolidated lawsuits filed by Indian tribes and the United States seeking approval of a more than $330,000 settlement with a subsidiary of Monsanto Co. for cleanup of an open-pit phosphate mine and response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).
MOBILE, Ala. — A federal judge in Alabama on Feb. 25 awarded summary judgment to the federal government on a towing vessel owner’s claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), finding that the plaintiffs’ lawsuit over an oil spill from a barge is subject to admiralty jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs’ claim under the Suits in Admiralty Act (SAA) does not allow it to seek contribution toward the recovery nearly $3 million it spent to clean up the spill under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA).
WASHINGTON, D.C. —The government of Guam told the U.S. Supreme Court in a merits brief filed Feb. 22 that a District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that its claim for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for the cleanup of a landfill used by the U.S. Navy was untimely should be reversed because a 2004 consent decree did not address a finding or the future of the territory’s liability under the statute.
NEW YORK — A Pennsylvania man, individually and on behalf of a class of residents who seek to recover damages from bankrupt Tronox Inc., on Feb. 26 filed a brief in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that a district court erred when it affirmed a bankruptcy court’s ruling that dismissed their professional malpractice case related to chemical exposure injuries. The petitioners also contend that the ruling is void because of a lack of jurisdiction.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on March 1 denied the majority of a motion for summary judgment filed by former operators of a site contaminated by volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and trichloroethylene (TCE), finding that while the landowner’s claim for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act was untimely, agreements it entered into with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) constituted settlements that allow it to pursue a claim for contribution under the statute.
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 25 allowed the mortgage holder of a property involved in a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lawsuit over radioactive slag contamination to intervene in the lawsuit, finding that the lender’s interests are different from those of the couple who currently own the home because of a state court foreclosure proceeding that is stayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Atlantic Richfield Co. asked the U.S. Supreme Court in a Feb. 11 petition for a writ of certiorari to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a 2012 suit brought by ASARCO LLC for contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act was timely, arguing that the claim should have been time-barred because ASARCO resolved its liability with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a 1998 settlement.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The city of Annapolis says in a lawsuit filed Feb. 22 in Maryland state court that it, its residents and its infrastructure “suffer the consequences” of an alleged “campaign of deception” employed by a number of energy companies that misrepresented their knowledge of the association between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change and that the companies continue to use “greenwashing” campaigns to promote products containing petroleum as more environmentally friendly even though they are not.
SAN FRANCISCO — A current landowner’s lawsuit brought against a couple and their company over contamination at a site where they used to operate a business during the 1970s and 1980s is barred by the doctrine of res judicata, a federal judge in California ruled Feb. 19 after finding that even though the current lawsuit is seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, an earlier suit brought by the previous owner seeking contribution stemmed from the same nucleus of facts.
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 19 denied Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s motion to enforce an injunction in a $5.1 billion bankruptcy settlement to bar a Louisiana man’s federal lawsuit against the company over creosote contamination, finding that the causes of action in the man’s action are not derivative claims or duplicative of derivative claims (In re: Tronox Inc., No. 14-5495, S.D. N.Y., 2021 U.S. Dist. 31208).
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on Feb. 19 remanded a breach of contract and indemnification lawsuit brought by the owner of a Superfund site against a tenant, finding that the owner’s state law claims do not raise a federal question and that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act does not provide a basis for removal.
BOSTON — A beach club and an environmental group on Cape Cod, Mass., on Feb. 18 officially entered into a consent decree for $234,000 to settle claims of groundwater pollution related to the club’s practice of open dumping in violation of federal law.
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 18 denied without prejudice a renewed motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement for municipalities claiming that Monsanto Co. and other makers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are liable for groundwater contamination and allowed the parties to file another renewed motion by March 19.
BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 overruled challenges by third-party defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit to a settlement resolving claims between the owners of two companies that conducted operations at a Superfund site in Rhode Island, the federal government and a number of federal agencies, finding that the judge sufficiently considered the cleanup work that needed to be done as part of the settlement and that the $550,000 the government and its agencies agreed to pay was not “nepotistically brokered.”
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge on Feb. 12 determined that an insurer must pay its insured approximately $24.2 million in prejudgment interest on a $25 million judgment entered for the insured for past environmental contamination costs incurred at one of the insured’s sites.
HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on Feb. 12 remanded two lawsuits brought by local municipalities over climate change, finding that the defendant energy companies misconstrued the plaintiffs’ claims when removing the actions to federal court because the causes of action stem from the companies’ alleged concealment of the risk between burning fossil fuels and climate change, not the physical extraction and production of fossil fuels.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 10 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by youths and an environmental group seeking reversal of a divided January 2020 decision that found that they lacked standing to pursue claims that the government knew about the association between burning fossil fuels and climate change but failed to take the proper actions.
SCRANTON, Pa. — A company that has a zinc reclaiming facility in Palmerton, Pa., reached an agreement with the federal government and a state environmental agency in federal court in Pennsylvania on Jan. 19 in which it agreed to pay a $3.3 million civil penalty and spend $4.3 million on measures to comply with laws regulating its emissions of lead dust, discharges of wastewater containing excessive levels of cadmium pH and zinc and its management of hazardous materials.