LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on May 22 entered judgment in favor of two insurers in an environmental contamination coverage suit after finding that no duty to defend or indemnify an insured exists because an administrative proceeding filed against the insured by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM) was not a suit per the terms of the policies at issue (Arrow Electronics Inc. v. Aetna Casualty & Surety Co., et al., No. 17-5247, C.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 88014).
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas high court on June 1 granted an insured’s petition for review to determine if an exception to a policy’s joint venture provision applies to provide coverage to an insured seeking coverage for damages incurred as a result of the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico (Anadarko Petroleum Corp., et al. v. Houston Casualty Co., et al., No. 16-1013, Texas Sup.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C.— A public interest group lacks standing to sue an energy company over its plan to close ash basins that store coal combustion residuals (CCR) at a power plant, a federal judge in North Carolina ruled May 30, finding that the group failed to allege that the proposed plan has resulted in illegal discharges into nearby waterways (Roanoke River Basin Association v. Duke Energy Progress LLC, No. 17-cv-707, M.D. N.C., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 91293).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on May 30 held that buyers of land that is in the process of being remediated cannot pursue a counterclaim for detrimental reliance against the seller, finding that the claim sounds in tort rather than contract and that it is prescribed by a one-year statute of limitations (KFC Corp. v. Iron Horse of Metairie Road LLC, et al., No. 16-16791, E.D. La., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 89540).
RICHMOND, Va. — A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on May 30 denied a petition for rehearing en banc of its divided ruling which concluded that conservation groups have a valid claim against a company whose pipeline leaked 369,000 gallons of gasoline into local groundwater and other water sources (Upstate Forever, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, et al., No. 17-1640, 4th Cir.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York did not err when dismissing a lawsuit brought by residents who live near a Superfund site after finding that their state law claims were preempted by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled May 25, holding that the plaintiffs’ claims conflicted with the terms of a remediation plan entered into between Honeywell International Inc. and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (Robert Bartlett, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 17-1907-cv, 2nd Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 13860).
INDIANAPOLIS — A federal judge in Indiana on May 22 overruled a defendant company’s argument that its preceding entities should be able to escape liability for cleanup costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for remediation of a former steel manufacturing facility, ruling that the “untimely and unjustified” arguments were raised at the 11th hour and after summary judgment had been awarded to the plaintiff (Valbruna Slater Steel Corporation, et al. v. Joslyn Manufacturing Co. LLC, et al., No. 10-cv-44-JD, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 86174).
TRENTON, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey on May 22 bifurcated a trial to determine the amount of restoration costs companies who sold gasoline containing methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) should pay to remediate groundwater, finding that a jury should determine the amount of future costs the companies should pay followed by a bench trial to determine past costs (New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, et al. v. Amerada Hess Corp., et al., No. 15-6468, D. N.J., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 85514).
SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah appeals court panel on May 17 overturned two rulings by a lower court judge that excluded evidence and testimony about what materials are subject to cleanup as part of a city’s sale of a parcel of land to a developer, holding that the trial court judge misapplied an earlier appeals court ruling in the case, as well as the Utah Rules of Evidence (Northgate Village Development LLC v. Orem City, No. 20160408-CA, Utah App., 2019 Utah App. LEXIS 98).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal appeals court panel in the District of Columbia on May 18 vacated a ruling by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that placed an Indianapolis site on the National Priorities List (NPL) after finding that the agency ignored evidence and erroneously determined that two aquifers were connected (Genuine Parts Co. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. 16-1416, 16-1418, D.C. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 12901).
NEW ORLEANS— A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on May 21 upheld a federal judge in Louisiana’s ruling finding that the failure to submit claim forms along with the required documentation to obtain compensation from the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) rendered the claims untimely (In re Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30544, 5th Cir.).
BOSTON — The city of Westfield, Mass., on May 18 filed a brief in Massachusetts federal court contending that a motion to dismiss filed by 3M Co. and other companies related to groundwater contamination from the manufacture and use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) should be rejected because the claim is not barred by the statute of limitations (City of Westfield, Massachusetts v. 3M, et al., No. 18-30027, D. Mass.).
OLYMPIA, Wash. — A 7-2 Washington Supreme Court on May 17 found that emails between a county and the Washington Department of Ecology were protected from disclosure under the Public Records Act (PRA) because they were work product and because the sharing of the information between the parties did not constitute a waiver of that privilege (Kittitas County v. Sky Allphin, et al., No. 93562-9, Wash. Sup., 2018 Wash. Sup., 2018 Wash. LEXIS 336).
BROOKLYN, N.Y. — The Second Department New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on May 16 reinstated claims of gross negligence and punitive damages against an insurer and a remediation company after determining that the insureds sufficiently stated facts to support the claims (Richard Bennett, et al. v. State Farm Fire and Casualty Co., et al., Nos. 10385/13, 385/14, 602582/14, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 2nd Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 3482).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Natural Resource Defense Council and six other groups on May 15 filed a petition in the District of Columbia U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals challenging a recent U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule that would eliminate greenhouse gas emissions standards for cars, sport utility vehicle and pickup trucks made from 2022 through 2025 (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, No. n/a, D.C. Cir.).
GULFPORT, Miss. — A coastal services professor designated as an expert for an environmental group claiming that a contractor’s road construction project is violating the Clean Water Act by disposing of excessive amounts of sediment in the Biloxi Back Bay can offer limited testimony regarding how the sediment flows from the project to the waterway, a federal judge in Mississippi ruled May 9, finding that the some of his opinions were based on inadequate data (Gulf Restoration Network v. Oscar Renda Contracting Inc., No. 17CV130-LG-RHW, S.D. Miss., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 77907).
SEATTLE — A Washington county on May 8 sued five oil companies in state court, contending that they “borrowed the Big Tobacco playbook” when failing to disclose that the burning of fossil fuels is linked to global warming and climate change that has adversely affected public and private property (King County v BP Plc., et al., No. n/a, Wash. Super., King Co.).
TRENTON, N.J. — NL Industries Inc. on May 7 filed a supplemental brief in New Jersey federal court arguing that the court should deny environmental groups’ motion for reconsideration of its prior ruling that they failed to produce sufficient evidence to show that NL and other companies violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when they discharged pollutants in levels that exceeded federal permits and contaminated local groundwater (Raritan Baykeeper, et al. v. NL Industries Ind., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on April 26 denied a motion for summary judgment filed by defendant Lenz Oil Peoria Inc. in which it argued that it is not the corporate successor to Lenz Oil Service Co., finding that the evidence shows that two brothers owned Lenz Oil Services at the time it began storing chemicals that contaminated the ground and soil at a site in Chicago (LCCS Group v. Lenz Oil Peoria Inc., et al., No. 16 C 5827, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 69900).
SAN DIEGO — After finding that a property owner failed to allege specific facts as to which entities allegedly disposed of solid waste from a project site onto his property, a California federal judge on May 4 dismissed claims for violation of Resource Conservation & Recovery Act (RCRA), California’s unfair competition law (UCL) and other claims with leave to amend (Todd Ingalls v. AMG Demolition & Environmental Services, et al., No. 17-cv-2013, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 75997).