WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Supreme Court Justice John G. Roberts Jr. on Oct. 19 stayed a lawsuit brought by 21 youths accusing the government of knowing about the relationship between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels so the plaintiffs could respond to the government’s petition for a writ of mandamus that would require a federal judge in Oregon to dismiss the suit (In re: United States, et al., No. 18A410, U.S. Sup., 2018 U.S. LEXIS 6257).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar say in amicus curiae briefs filed in the U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 11 that the high court should review a ruling by the Massachusetts Judicial Supreme Court that is allowing the state’s attorney general to investigate Exxon Mobil Corp.’s knowledge about the relationship between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change because there are insufficient contacts between the energy company and the state (Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Maura Healey, No. 18-311, U.S. Sup.).
LAFAYETTE, Ind. — An Indiana federal magistrate judge on Oct. 5 denied an insured’s motion for summary judgment on the duty to defend and indemnify in an environmental liability coverage suit after determining that an issue of fact exists as to whether the insured’s notice of the underlying environmental liability claims was timely pursuant to the policies at issue (Landis+Gyr, et al. v. Zurich American Insurance Co., No. 16-82, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173197).
SEATTLE — A federal judge in Washington on Oct. 11 gave BNSF Railway Co. six months to secure a functioning prototype for a cover for open-top coal cars that would prevent the discharge of coal and petcoke dust after finding that the company’s inability to meet deadlines contained in a May 2017 consent decree was not justified (Sierra Club, et al. v. BNSF Railway Co., No. C13-0967-JCC, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 175455).
SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 2 ordered the state of Washington and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation to respond to Teck Cominco Metals Ltd.’s Sept. 28 motion for a panel rehearing and request for en banc hearing of a Sept. 14 decision that affirmed a federal court’s finding that the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are entitled to recover more than $8.25 million in response costs from a polluter of the Columbia River for enforcement actions taken under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) (Joseph A. Pakootas, et al. v. Teck Cominco Metals, Ltd., No. 16-35742, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27942).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal judge in the District of Columbia on Oct. 5 denied the government’s motion to dismiss a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit brought by the government of Guam, finding that a 2004 consent decree between the country and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency does not prevent the country from pursuing a cost recovery claim under the statute (Government of Guam v. United States of America, No. 17-cv-2487, D. D.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172364).
OAKLAND, Calif. — A federal magistrate judge in California on Oct. 5 trimmed claims from a man’s Clean Water Act (CWA) citizen suit accusing the city of Oakland of illegally discharging stormwater containing untreated sewage into the San Francisco Bay but found that the plaintiff had standing to bring his suit (Derron Thibodeaux v. Port of Oakland, No. 18-cv-03353-KAW, N.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 172780).
PHILADELPHIA — A Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 5 reversed a federal judge in Pennsylvania’s ruling that a landowner is responsible only for response costs incurred by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) after it purchased a piece of contaminated land, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) states that the landowner is also responsible for response costs that were incurred before its purchase of the site (Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection v. Trainer Custom Chemical LLC, et al., No. 17-2607, 3rd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 28259).
TRENTON, N.J. — In a redacted ruling issued Oct. 3, a federal judge in New Jersey granted the federal government’s motion for summary judgment in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) action filed by the owner of a site that was used to assemble munitions during World War II and the Korean War, finding that the landowner could not seek cost recovery under the statute and that its claim for contribution was time-barred (Cranbury Brick Yard LLC v. United States, No. 15-2789, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 171458).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 2 affirmed the dismissal of three people who submitted claims to the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) for economic and property damages sustained as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, finding that the evidence showed that the plaintiffs’ revoked their opt-out status or did not properly opt-out of the settlement agreement (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30912, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27902).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Oct. 1 agreed with a federal judge in Texas that the government’s request for civil penalties under the Clean Air Act for unpermitted modifications at two power plants was barred by the five-year statute of limitations, holding that the limitations period begins to run on the date the construction begins and does not continue to be tolled as the facility continues operations (United States v. Luminant Generation Co. LLC, et al., No. 17-10235, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27811).
BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on Sept. 25 granted a company’s motion to dismiss a lawsuit brought by the government under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act for the cleanup of the Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plant (NWIRP) in Bedford, Mass., finding that the claims were barred by a 1989 lawsuit brought by the town over a leak of solvents at the facility (United States v. Raytheon Co., No. 17-11816-NMG, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 164929).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Sept. 21 upheld a federal judge in Mississippi’s ruling awarding partial summary judgment to the government on its claim that a tugboat company was the operator of two oil-carrying barges that collided with a bridge resulting in an oil spill under the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 (OPA), holding that the defendant company was engaged in the activity that caused the pollution (United States of America v. Nature’s Way Marine LLC, No. 17-60698, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27152).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on Sept. 25 dismissed as untimely a plaintiff company’s claim for contribution under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that the cause of action accrued when it entered into a settlement agreement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) in 1998 (Refined Metals Corp. v. NL Industries Inc., No. 17-cv-02565-SEB-TAB, S.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163988).
TRENTON, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey on Sept. 21 denied a motion for preliminary injunction filed by two environmental groups that have brought claims against a manufacturer for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act (CWA), concluding that the groups’ evidence that a proposed marina would cause “irreparable injury” was “merely speculative” (Raritan Baykeeper, et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
CINCINNATI — A split panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 24 affirmed the dismissal of a groundwater contamination lawsuit pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA), ruling that the CWA does not impose liability on surface water pollution that comes via groundwater. The panel, however, reversed and remanded the case with regard to the claim asserted by environmental groups under the Resource Recovery and Conservation Act (RCRA) (Kentucky Waterways Alliance, et al. v. Kentucky Utilities Co., No. 17-cv-292-DCR, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 27238).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on Sept. 21 refused to sever the San Diego Unified Port District’s public nuisance claims against Monsanto Co. over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination from those brought by the city of San Diego, finding that “fundamental fairness and judicial economy weigh against severance” (San Diego Unified Port District, et al. v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 15cv598-WQH-AGS, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 162122).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Sept. 19 denied motions for summary judgment filed by a legal entity in charge of remediating the Lake Calumet Cluster Superfund Site and two potentially responsible parties, finding that questions exist as to whether they should contribute to remediation costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) because genuine disputes exist on whether waste resin in tanks delivered by one company is hazardous and who arranged for the disposal of jet fuel waste associated with the other company (LCCS Group v. A.N. Webber Logistics Inc., et al., No. 16 C 5827, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 159803).
SEATTLE — A trial court did not abuse its discretion in awarding insureds attorney fees and costs at a rate lower than requested because the insureds failed to prove that the requested fees, incurred as a result of environmental contamination costs, were appropriate, the Division I Washington Court of Appeals said Sept. 17 (Ronald A. Baker, et al. v. Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co., No. 76218-4-I, Wash. App., Div. 1, 2018 Wash. App. LEXIS 2116).
NEW YORK — A federal magistrate judge in New York on Sept. 10 recommended dismissing with prejudice a land owner’s claim for contribution under Section 113(f) of the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that it was untimely because the three-year statute of limitations began to run when the plaintiff company entered into an Administrative Order of Consent (AOC) with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) in 2007 (Brooklyn Union Gas Co. v. Exxon Mobil Corp., et al., Non. 17-CV-0045, E.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145903).