BALTIMORE — The mayor and city council of Baltimore on July 20 sued 14 producers of fossil fuels in Maryland state court, contending that the companies knew since the 1960s that the use of the products causes climate change, which causes sea levels to rise and increases the risk of damage to the city’s infrastructure (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. BP Plc, et al., No. n/a, Md. Cir., Baltimore City).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on July 19 dismissed New York City’s lawsuit accusing five producers of fossil fuels of promoting their products despite knowing they caused climate change, finding that its claims for public nuisance, private nuisance and trespass are displaced by the federal Clean Air Act (City of New York v. BP PLC, et al., No. 18 Civ. 182, S.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 120934).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A Federal Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel on July 18 upheld a 2017 ruling requiring the government to pay $99 million to companies it contracted with to manufacture aviation fuel (avgas) during World War II and a 2015 order denying the government’s request for discovery into any insurance coverage settlements the companies obtained, finding that the judge did not abuse her discretion when making the decisions (Shell Oil Company, et al. v. United States, No. 2017-1695, Fed. Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 19858).
DETROIT — The owner of a steel mini mill on July 17 agreed to pay a $325,000 penalty and upgrade emissions controls at its facility to resolve allegations asserted by the federal government in a lawsuit simultaneously filed in Michigan federal court accusing the company of violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) (United States v. Gerdau Specialty Steel N.A. Michigan, No. 18-cv-12228, E.D. Mich.).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A federal magistrate judge in Illinois on July 13 ordered a power company found liable for violating the Clean Air Act (CAA) to produce communications between two of its testifying experts and their staff, finding that the information is not subject to blanket protection under the work product doctrine (Natural Resources Defense Council, et al. v. Illinois Power Resources LLC, No. 13-cv-1181, C.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116873).
GREEN BAY, Wis. — A federal judge in Wisconsin on July 12 refused to reconsider a Feb. 5 ruling denying in part a motion for partial summary judgment filed by the federal government and state of Wisconsin in a suit to recover more than $33 million in cleanup costs from the Lower Fox River Superfund site, maintaining that disputes exist as to whether the last nonsettling defendant company is entitled to a reduction in liability as well as the amount it must pay the plaintiffs (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10-C-910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 116686).
TRENTON, N.J. — Two environmental groups on July 16 filed a brief in New Jersey federal court contending that their motion for a preliminary injunction should be granted against NL Industries Inc. related to claims that the company and others violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when they discharged pollutants in levels that exceeded federal permits and contaminated local groundwater. Moreover, the groups insist that the defendants’ argument that the motion is not ripe because of plans to build a marina on the river should be rejected (Raritan Baykeeper, et al. v. NL Industries Inc., et al., No. 09-4117, D. N.J.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I.— The state of Rhode Island on July 2 sued 13 companies in state court alleging that they knew about the relationship between global warming and the burning of fossil fuels but continued to promote the products and “engaged in a concerted effort to evade regulation” (Rhode Island v. Chevron Corp., et al., No. PC-2018-4716, R.I. Super., Providence/Bristol Co.).
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Two Stanley Black & Decker Inc. subsidiaries on July 9 agreed to spend approximately $100 million to clean up dioxin contamination in sediment and soil at a Rhode Island Superfund site and along the Woonasquatucket River, according to a consent decree filed in Rhode Island federal court (Emhart Industries Inc. v. U.S. Department of the Air Force, et al., No. 11-cv-23, D. R.I.).
BAY CITY, Mich. — A federal judge in Michigan on July 10 ruled that an amended complaint filed by the owners of 12 refineries that were in operation during World War II that are seeking to recover response costs under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) sufficiently describes what actions the plaintiff companies took to remediate contamination at the sites (MRP Properties LLC, et al. v. United States, No. 17-cv-11174, E.D. Mich., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114099).
PARK CITY, Utah — A federal judge in Utah on July 9 granted the federal government’s motion for partial summary judgment in a suit brought under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), finding that the statute allows the government to seek financial information from a mining company and its affiliates in order to determine a proper cleanup plan (United States v. United Park City Mines, et al., No. 17-cv-482-DB, D. Utah, 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 114039).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Insurers of decedents who owned a dry cleaning business and the property on which the business was located owe no coverage for environmental contamination discovered on the property’s site because the environmental contamination was not sudden and accidental as required by the policies’ pollution exclusions, a California federal judge said July 2 (Miller Marital Deduction Trust, et al. v. Estate of Mark B. DuBois, et al., No. 16-1883, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 111348).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana did not err when dismissing a lawsuit brought by two service stations that claimed they suffered economic losses following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and ensuing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled July 3, holding that the owners’ claims were barred by maritime law (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30233, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 18180).
NEW YORK — The federal government on July 2 sued two companies under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) in New York federal court, seeking to recover the costs it incurred in remediating groundwater contaminated with volatile organic compounds (VOCs), tetrachloroethylene (PCE) and trichloroethylene (TCE) from a 6-1/2-square-mile area in Nassau County, N.Y. (United States v. IMC Eastern Corp., No. CV18-3818, E.D. N.Y.).
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri federal judge on June 25 granted an insured’s motion for partial summary judgment after determining that a premises pollution liability policy provides coverage for remediation costs and that letters from the Kansas Department of Health and Environment notifying the insured of its liability for the remediation constitute a claim under the policy (Sunflower Redevelopment LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. 15-577, W.D. Mo., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105300).
SAN FRANCISCO — A federal judge in California on June 25 dismissed a public nuisance lawsuit brought by the cities of Oakland and San Francisco against five producers of fossil fuels over climate change, finding that the issue is better suited for the executive and legislative branches of government (People of the State of California v. BP Plc, et al., Nos. 17-6011, 6012, N.D. Calif.,2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 106895).
SAN DIEGO — A federal judge in California on June 22 struck portions of an amended complaint filed by property owners claiming that contamination from an adjoining property is migrating onto theirs, finding that they could not have their claims tried before a jury and seek a declaration stating that the defendants are responsible for reimbursing them for all past, present and future costs that the plaintiffs will incur in remediating the contamination (Greenfield MHP Associates LP, et al. v. Ametek Inc., et al., No. 15-cv-01525-GPC-AGS, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 105091).
SAN FRANCISCO — Taylor Farms Retail Inc. on June 20 agreed to pay a $64,670 civil penalty to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for failure to obtain a permit to discharge stormwater from its Salinas, Calif., facility to resolve an administrative proceeding accusing the company of violating the Clean Water Act (In the Matter of: Taylor Farms Retail Inc., No. CWA-09-2018-0010, EPA Admin.).
RICHMOND, Va. — A Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on June 20 vacated a federal judge in West Virginia’s ruling awarding summary judgment to four environmental groups that complained that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had failed to perform a nondiscretionary duty to impose total maximum daily load (TMDL) limits for biologically impaired waters in the state, holding that West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is working on a methodology to create the limits (Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, et al. v. Scott Pruitt, et al., No. 17-1430, 4th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 16622).
SEATTLE — A Washington federal judge on June 11 granted a motion for summary judgment filed by two insurers in an environmental contamination allocation proceeding after determining that a 1997 settlement agreement and release clearly included the policies issued to the insured and released the insurers from liability (King County v. Travelers Indemnity Co., et al., No. 14-1957, W.D. Wash., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 97868).