CLEVELAND — An insured city’s umbrella insurers are not necessary and indispensable parties in a suit filed by primary insurers seeking a declaration that their policies’ pollution exclusions bar coverage for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act because not all of the umbrella policies include pollution exclusions that are identical to the exclusions the primary policies, an Ohio federal judge said March 1 in denying the city’s motion to dismiss an intervenor’s complaint filed by one of the city’s umbrella insurers (National Fire Insurance of Hartford, et al. v. Willoughby, No. 17-1392, N.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 33045).
DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan on Feb. 28 denied as untimely a motion to intervene in a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) action related to groundwater contamination, the remediation of which is already the subject of a consent decree between a state environmental agency and the company responsible for the contamination (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality v. Ford Motor Co., No. 17-12372, E.D. Mich., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 31703).
SEATTLE — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 19 upheld a man’s conviction for one count of violating the Clean Water Act, holding that the government presented sufficient evidence showing that he was “fully aware” that a vessel he owned was discharging illegal amounts of oil (United States v. Bingham Fox, No. 17-30147, 9th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4786)
ATLANTA — An insured claims in a Feb. 13 complaint filed in Georgia federal court that its insurer breached its contract in denying coverage under a pollution liability policy for clean-up costs and damages incurred as a result of the release of gasoline from one of the insured’s pipelines (Colonial Pipeline Co. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 19-762, N.D. Ga.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 18 found that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when dismissing a lawsuit brought by two claimants seeking economic losses caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010, holding that the plaintiffs released their claims after obtaining payouts from the Gulf Coast Claims Facility (GCCF) (In re: Deepwater Horizon, No. 17-30921, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4734).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina federal bankruptcy court erred in finding that Chapter 11 debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. are not protected by the automatic stay from environmental cleanup cost state court settlement judgments, the debtors argue Feb. 4 in their opening appeal brief in federal court (Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al. v. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, No. 3:18-cv-507, W.D. N.C.).
BALTIMORE — The mayor and City Council of Baltimore on Feb. 19 sued Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries in Maryland federal court, claiming that the companies are liable for contaminating stormwater and bodies of water in the state with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) (Mayor and City Council of Baltimore v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 19-cv-00483, D. Md.).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 19 dismissed a lawsuit brought by two minor plaintiffs and an environmental group accusing President Donald Trump and other government officials of contributing to climate change by rolling back environmental regulations, holding that the plaintiffs cannot trace their alleged injuries to the defendants’ actions and that they failed to state claims upon which relief can be granted (Clean Air Council v. United States, et al., No. 17-4977, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 25801).
PRESCOTT, Ariz. — A federal judge in Arizona on Feb. 19 ruled that an expert for a gas company seeking contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act from the federal government, U.S. Department of the Interior, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Geological Survey, the Department of Energy and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission for the cleanup of 19 uranium mines on the Navajo Reservation can proffer testimony based on aerial photographs of the site, ruling that his methodology was reliable and that any challenges to the weight of his testimony can be challenged at trial (El Paso Natural Gas Co. LLC v. United States, No. CV-14-08165-PCT-DGC, D. Ariz., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 26054).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 19 granted in part a petition for a writ of certiorari seeking review of a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ ruling that upheld a summary judgment award to five environmental groups that accused the county of Maui of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean, but limited its review to whether the act requires a permit when pollutants originate from a point source but are conveyed to navigable waters by a nonpoint source, such as groundwater (County of Maui v. Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al., No. 18-260, U.S. Sup.).
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Feb. 6 refused to dismiss an insured’s declaratory judgment claim in an environmental contamination coverage dispute after determining that the insured has presented an actual controversy warranting the court’s jurisdiction over the claim (Whittaker Corp. v. AIG Specialty Insurance Co., No. 18-8453, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 23744).
TACOMA, Wash. — A federal judge in Washington on Feb. 7 found that Union Pacific Railroad Co. was not liable under the Washington Model Toxics Control Act (MTCA) for contamination at a former wood treatment site, holding that it was not an operator under the act and that the current owner of the property accepted responsibility for cleanup of the site through agreed orders with the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) (Port of Ridgefield v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. CV14-6024RBL, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 20229).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A federal claims court judge on Feb. 8 ruled that the court lacked jurisdiction over a suit brought by the current owner of a Superfund site in Pennsylvania against the federal government under the takings clause of the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution because the action was barred by the six-year statute of limitations (Whiteland Holdings L.P., et al. v. United States, No. 18-1081L, Fed. Clms., 2019 U.S. Claims LEXIS 56).
NEW ORLEANS — A furniture company’s request for damages under the Business and Economic Loss framework of the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement was upheld Feb. 8 by a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel that found that a federal judge in Louisiana did not err when denying review of the company’s claim because it was given ample opportunities to submit customer information (Claimant ID 100261758 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 18-30173, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3999).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 8 ordered the federal judge in Louisiana presiding over the multidistrict litigation court for suits over damages caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the April 20, 2010, explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig to review an appeal brought by BP Exploration & Production Inc. over a finding that management fees paid by a claimant to its parent company are a fixed fee that should not be deducted from its variable income (BP Exploration & Production Inc. v. Claimant Id 100185315, No. 18-30331, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 4007).
NEWARK, N.J. — A federal judge in New Jersey on Feb. 7 ordered a biodiesel fuel maker to pay $100,000 for one count of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) and sentenced it to five years of probation after it pleaded guilty to discharging 45,000 gallons of wastewater into a waterway separating New Jersey from Staten Island, N.Y. (United States v. Fuel Bio One LLC, No. 18cr335, D. N.J.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 6 affirmed the denial of an Alabama vein clinic’s claim for business and economic loss under the Deepwater Horizon Economic and Property Damages Settlement Agreement, finding that the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) claims administrator did not err when finding that the clinic’s customer mix data did not support a showing that it lost revenue as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in April 2010 (Claimant ID 100187576 v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., No. 18-30491, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 3721)
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 4 entered final judgment in favor of defendants in a lawsuit over the remediation of contamination at the Omega Chemical Superfund site in California, finding that the plaintiffs’ requests for contribution and declaratory judgment under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) are barred by the statute of limitations (Arconic Inc., et al. v. APC Investment Co., et al., No. 14-6456, C.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17664).
NEW ORLEANS — A federal judge in Louisiana on Feb. 4 awarded summary judgment to BP Exploration & Production Inc. in a suit brought by a man who claimed exposure to dispersants during cleanup of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig caused him to develop chronic conjunctivitis, sinusitis and other injuries, finding that the plaintiff failed to present any evidence on medical causation (Melvin Banegas v. BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al., No. 17-7429, E.D. La., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17353).
TACOMA, Wash. — A federal judge in Washington on Jan. 31 stayed a lawsuit brought by an environmental group against the owners of a landfill over discharges of storm water that allegedly violate the Clean Water Act so the defendant companies could work with the Washington Department of Ecology to resolve uncertainties about the companies’ National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits (Puget Soundkeeper Alliance v. Pierce County Recycling, Composting & Disposal LLC, et al., No. C17-5731 BHS, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15736).