NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 7 ruled that an appeals panel for the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) did not err when finding that equipment rental expenses were fixed costs under the terms of the agreement and that the company was not a developer that would be precluded from submitting a claim to the settlement program (BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Claimant ID 100212052, No. 18-30588, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13946).
SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on May 20 granted the federal government’s motion for summary judgment in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit and held that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can have access to a man’s property to conduct remedial actions, finding that the man has refused to cooperate with the agency and that there is a threat of a release of hazardous substances at the property (United States v. Charles Pillon, No. C18-1845-JC, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 84681).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A U.S. Court of Federal Claims judge on May 17 denied a motion to reconsider a Feb. 8 ruling that found that a Superfund site in Pennsylvania’s current owner’s claim against the federal government under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was barred by the six-year statute of limitations, holding that no manifest injustice occurred when the date of accrual was determined (Whiteland Holdings LP, et al. v. United States, No. 18-1081L, Fed. Clms., 2019 U.S. Claims 526).
SAN FRANCISCO — An umbrella liability insurer has no duty to defend its insured against an underlying suit seeking environmental contamination cleanup costs because the policy’s pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage for cleanup costs, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said May 16 in affirming a district court’s ruling (RLI Insurance Co. v. Visalia, No. 18-15668, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 14556).
CHICAGO — The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 16 affirmed a district court’s ruling in favor of an insurer on the applicability of the sudden and accidental exception to a policy’s pollution exclusion, agreeing with the lower court’s finding that the insured could not prove that the contamination was sudden and accidental because the insured’s expert testimony was inadmissible (Varlen Corp. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., et al., No. 17-3212, 7th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 14529).
HATO REY, Puerto Rico — A federal judge in Puerto Rico on May 13 denied a manufacturer’s motion to reconsider a liability ruling in the first phase of a groundwater contamination lawsuit brought by the U.S. government, ruling that the company “misconstrues” CERCLA (United States v. Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company, No. 15-2328, D. Puerto Rico, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80889).
ST. LOUIS — The owners and operators of a Missouri landfill who are accused in a putative class complaint of failing to stop radioactive contamination of neighboring properties failed to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction and to rebut the plaintiffs’ showing that the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) local controversy exception applies, a Missouri federal judge ruled May 8, granting a motion to remand (John C. Kitchin, Jr., et al. v. Bridgeton Landfill, LLC, et al., No. 18-672, E.D. Mo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77640).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The County of Maui, Hawaii, on May 9 filed a brief in the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to reverse a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that upheld a summary judgment award to five environmental groups that accused the county of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean because point source permitting is required only where pollutants are being delivered to navigable waters by point sources (County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al., No. 18-260, U.S. Sup.).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — A federal judge in Alabama on May 7 found that Drummond Co. Inc. violated Section 402 of the Clean Water Act (CWA) by failing to have a permit for acid mine drainage (AMD) that migrated from ditches, channels, gullies, basins and a refuse pile at a former mining site into Locust Fork, holding that the discharges came from a point source into a navigable water of the United States (Black Warrior Riverkeeper Inc. v. Drummond Company Inc., No. 16-cv-01443-AKK, N.D. Ala., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76858).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. solicitor general told the U.S. Supreme Court in an amicus curiae brief filed April 30 that it need not decide whether the Montana Supreme Court erred when finding that a lawsuit brought by owners of land at a site contaminated by former copper smelting activities can seek additional remedial activities from Atlantic Richfield Co., explaining that review is premature because of jurisdictional issues (Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Gregory A. Christian, et al., No. 17-1498, U.S. Sup.).
BILLINGS, Mont. — ExxonMobil Pipeline Co. on April 26 entered into an agreement with the federal government in which it promised to pay $14.6 million to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) as a result of a 2011 oil spill that released approximately 1,500 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River, according to documents filed in Montana federal court (United States v. ExxonMobil Pipeline Co., No. 19-cv-48, D. Mont.).
CHARLESTON, S.C. — ExxonMobil Oil Corp., the federal government and two South Carolina agencies on May 1 entered into an agreement in South Carolina federal court in which the company agreed to spend $6.6 million on environmental restoration projects to resolve allegations that it violated the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and South Carolina environmental laws when releasing hazardous waste into soil and groundwater at a number of phosphate fertilizer plants in the state (United States v. ExxonMobil Oil Corp., No. 19-cv-1273, D. S.C.).
OAKLAND, Calif. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was ordered by a federal judge in California on May 6 to implement a federal landfill emissions plan by Nov. 6 and approve or disapprove state implementation plans within four months after the judge found that the agency violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) by failing to meeting the deadlines established in the 2016 landfill emissions guidelines (California, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 18-cv-3237, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 76304).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on May 3 denied in part a former land owner’s motion seeking dismissal of a plaintiff company’s motion to dismiss claims for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERLCA) and Indiana Environmental Law Statute, finding that the plaintiff’s allegations satisfied the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) (Haber Land Co. Ltd. v. American Steel City Industrial Leasing Inc., et al., No. 18-cv-04091-JMS-MJD, S.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74962).
BATON ROUGE, La. — No coverage is owed to an insured seeking coverage for an oil spill because the policy’s pollution exclusion clearly bars coverage and the insured failed to provide timely notice of the spill pursuant to the policy’s buyback exception to the pollution exclusion, a Louisiana federal judge said May 1 in granting the insurer’s motion to dismiss (Apollo Energy LLC v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd’s, London, No. 17-1741, M.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 74187).
NEW YORK — An insured seeking coverage for costs associated with investigating and remediating environmental contamination at former manufactured gas plant (MGP) sites is not entitled to indemnity from two insurers because the insured failed to provide timely notice of the contamination at the sites as required by the policies at issue, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said April 25 in affirming a district court’s dismissal of the insured’s suit (New York State Electric and Gas Corp. v. Century Indemnity Co., et al., No. 18-1012, 2nd Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 13085).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on April 29 affirmed the dismissal with prejudice of 800 people who worked for a company that performed cleanup services during the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010, but vacated the dismissal of 17 people who allegedly sustained injuries as a result of exposure to dispersants, finding that 800 people failed to timely file independent complaints pursuant to a court-ordered deadline (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 18-30008, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 12904).
MISSOULA, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on April 11 denied Atlantic Richfield Co.’s (Arco’s) motion for judgment on the pleadings in a suit brought by a company seeking $7 million in cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) and the Montana Comprehensive Environmental Cleanup and Responsibility Act, finding that the indemnification provision in a 1985 asset agreement did not clearly explain each company’s environmental liabilities (Columbia Falls Aluminum Company LLC v. Atlantic Richfield Co., No. CV 18-131-M-DWM, D. Mont., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 62702).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The operators of a solid waste transfer station on April 17 notified a federal court in New York that they are going to ask the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to review an April 10 ruling that awarded $71,725.54 in attorney fees and costs to a grassroots group after its Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) lawsuit was remanded (Cleanup North Brooklyn, et al. v. Brooklyn Transfer LLC, et al., No. 17-cv-05621, E.D. N.Y.).
ALLENTOWN, Pa. — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 25 approved a $10.9 million settlement that resolved a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERLCA) lawsuit brought by a power company against the federal government, U.S. Department of the Army and U.S. Department of the Navy over contamination at a former steel site that was used to manufacture supplies during World War II and the Korean War (Birdsboro Power LLC v. United States, et al., No. 17-cv-05245, E.D. Pa.).