WASHINGTON, D.C. — Atlantic Richfield Co. asked the U.S. Supreme Court in a Feb. 11 petition for a writ of certiorari to review a Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals ruling that a 2012 suit brought by ASARCO LLC for contribution under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act was timely, arguing that the claim should have been time-barred because ASARCO resolved its liability with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in a 1998 settlement.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The city of Annapolis says in a lawsuit filed Feb. 22 in Maryland state court that it, its residents and its infrastructure “suffer the consequences” of an alleged “campaign of deception” employed by a number of energy companies that misrepresented their knowledge of the association between the burning of fossil fuels and climate change and that the companies continue to use “greenwashing” campaigns to promote products containing petroleum as more environmentally friendly even though they are not.
SAN FRANCISCO — A current landowner’s lawsuit brought against a couple and their company over contamination at a site where they used to operate a business during the 1970s and 1980s is barred by the doctrine of res judicata, a federal judge in California ruled Feb. 19 after finding that even though the current lawsuit is seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, an earlier suit brought by the previous owner seeking contribution stemmed from the same nucleus of facts.
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Feb. 19 denied Anadarko Petroleum Corp.’s motion to enforce an injunction in a $5.1 billion bankruptcy settlement to bar a Louisiana man’s federal lawsuit against the company over creosote contamination, finding that the causes of action in the man’s action are not derivative claims or duplicative of derivative claims (In re: Tronox Inc., No. 14-5495, S.D. N.Y., 2021 U.S. Dist. 31208).
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on Feb. 19 remanded a breach of contract and indemnification lawsuit brought by the owner of a Superfund site against a tenant, finding that the owner’s state law claims do not raise a federal question and that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act does not provide a basis for removal.
BOSTON — A beach club and an environmental group on Cape Cod, Mass., on Feb. 18 officially entered into a consent decree for $234,000 to settle claims of groundwater pollution related to the club’s practice of open dumping in violation of federal law.
LOS ANGELES — A federal judge in California on Feb. 18 denied without prejudice a renewed motion for preliminary approval of a class action settlement for municipalities claiming that Monsanto Co. and other makers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) are liable for groundwater contamination and allowed the parties to file another renewed motion by March 19.
BOSTON — The First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 17 overruled challenges by third-party defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act lawsuit to a settlement resolving claims between the owners of two companies that conducted operations at a Superfund site in Rhode Island, the federal government and a number of federal agencies, finding that the judge sufficiently considered the cleanup work that needed to be done as part of the settlement and that the $550,000 the government and its agencies agreed to pay was not “nepotistically brokered.”
HONOLULU — A federal judge in Hawaii on Feb. 12 remanded two lawsuits brought by local municipalities over climate change, finding that the defendant energy companies misconstrued the plaintiffs’ claims when removing the actions to federal court because the causes of action stem from the companies’ alleged concealment of the risk between burning fossil fuels and climate change, not the physical extraction and production of fossil fuels.
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Feb. 10 denied a petition for rehearing en banc filed by youths and an environmental group seeking reversal of a divided January 2020 decision that found that they lacked standing to pursue claims that the government knew about the association between burning fossil fuels and climate change but failed to take the proper actions.
SCRANTON, Pa. — A company that has a zinc reclaiming facility in Palmerton, Pa., reached an agreement with the federal government and a state environmental agency in federal court in Pennsylvania on Jan. 19 in which it agreed to pay a $3.3 million civil penalty and spend $4.3 million on measures to comply with laws regulating its emissions of lead dust, discharges of wastewater containing excessive levels of cadmium pH and zinc and its management of hazardous materials.
DES MOINES, Iowa — A federal judge in Iowa on Feb. 1 approved the entry of a consent decree between the federal government and companies found liable for trichloroethylene (TCE) and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination a site in Des Moines that requires the companies to jointly and severally pay $11.5 million, finding that the agreement is fair and reasonable.
NEW YORK — In an environmental contamination coverage dispute that has been pending for more than 30 years, a New York federal judge on Feb. 4 determined that an insurer must pay an insured approximately $25 million for past environmental contamination costs incurred at one of the insured’s sites because there is no genuine dispute of material fact that the costs incurred by the insured’s successor arose as a result of the insured’s operations at the site.
HELENA, Mont. — A federal judge in Montana on Feb. 2 denied two motions in limine filed by ASARCO LLC seeking to limit testimony from two witnesses from the Montana Environmental Trust Group (METG), which is handling cleanup activities at the East Helena Superfund site, and another witness who would provide testimony on cost allocation, finding that the company’s request to have the court decide on issues of relevance and prejudice prior to a mini-bench trial is superfluous.
TRENTON, N.J. — A New Jersey federal judge on Jan. 28 dismissed all but a breach of contract claim against an environmental liability insurer and the former owner of a battery manufacturing facility after determining that only one of the plaintiffs raised a question of fact as to whether it is a third-party beneficiary under the environmental policy at issue.
SALT LAKE CITY — A company that incinerates medical waste reached an agreement Jan. 29 with the federal government in federal court in Utah in which the company will pay a $600,000 civil penalty and spend $2 million to purchase lower emission school buses for a nearby school district to resolve allegations that it violated the Clean Air Act (CAA) when discharging emissions that contained excessive levels of nitrogen oxides.
LOS ANGELES — A business insurer did not breach its contract or act in bad faith in denying an insured’s claim for a gas leak at its insured gas station because the insured failed to prove that the gas leak was caused by an accident for which coverage would be afforded under the policy, a California federal judge said in an amended Jan. 29 opinion.
ALBANY, N.Y. — A counterclaimant’s requests for contribution and declaratory relief under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act in a suit brought by BASF Corp. over the costs of remediating contaminated sediment from the Hudson River were dismissed as superfluous by a federal judge in New York on Jan. 25; he ruled that the defendant company cannot bring the claims because it has not reached a settlement with the government over the cleanup of the contamination and because BASF is not seeking cost recovery under the statute.
JACKSON, Ohio — An Ohio appeals panel on Jan. 11 ruled that a company was not entitled to recover the costs of remediating groundwater contaminated with various toxins because the insurance policy covering the property contained an exclusion that barred the claim.
ST. LOUIS — A federal judge in Missouri on Jan. 25 dismissed a landfill owner’s claim for cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act against a tenant operating an asphalt plant on the site, but allowed the company to amend its complaint to pursue only claims for contribution under the statute.