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Mealey's Pollution Liability

  • July 23, 2018

    Baltimore Mayor, City Council Sue Fossil Fuel Producers Over Climate Change

    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).

  • July 20, 2018

    New York City’s Climate Change Claims Displaced By Federal Law, Judge Says

    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).

  • July 20, 2018

    Federal Appeals Panel Upholds Ruling Awarding Companies $99M For Avgas Cleanup

    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).

  • July 18, 2018

    Steel Mini Mill Agrees To Pay $325,000, Upgrade Facility Over Emissions

    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.).

  • July 18, 2018

    Magistrate Orders Production Of Communications Between Company Experts, Staff

    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).

  • July 17, 2018

    Judge Refuses To Vacate Ruling That Cleanup Agreements Can Offset Each Other

    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).

  • July 17, 2018

    Groups: Injunction Proper In Groundwater Case Involving Marina On Raritan River

    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.).

  • July 12, 2018

    Rhode Island Sues Fossil Fuel Companies Over Climate Change

    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.).

  • July 11, 2018

    2 Companies Agree To Spend $100M To Clean Up Dioxin Contamination

    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.).

  • July 11, 2018

    Refineries’ Owners’ Amended Suit Sufficiently Alleges They Incurred Cleanup Costs

    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).

  • July 11, 2018

    CERCLA Allows Government’s Request For Mining Company’s Financial Information

    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).

  • July 10, 2018

    No Coverage Afforded For Contamination Caused By Dry Cleaning Business

    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).

  • July 6, 2018

    5th Circuit Finds Service Station’s Business Loss Claims Barred By Maritime Law

    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).

  • July 3, 2018

    Government Sues 2 Companies To Recover Groundwater Contamination Cleanup Costs

    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.).

  • June 28, 2018

    Missouri Federal Judge Says Pollution Liability Policy Covers Remediation Costs

    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).

  • June 27, 2018

    Judge Dismisses Climate Change Suit, Says Issue Better Suited For Politicians

    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).

  • June 26, 2018

    Judge Strikes Property Owners’ Request For Jury Trial Over Contamination Cleanup

    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).

  • June 25, 2018

    Fruit, Vegetable Producer To Pay Fine For Stormwater Discharges

    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.).

  • June 21, 2018

    4th Circuit Vacates Groups’ Summary Judgment Award In Clean Water Act Suit

    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).

  • June 19, 2018

    Settlement Agreement Included 2 Insurers’ Policies, Federal Judge Says

    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).