ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A federal judge on Feb. 12 mostly declined to dismiss claims leveled by the Navajo Nation and state of New Mexico against a company that worked on the Gold King Mine, where a 3-million-gallon spill in 2015 turned rivers yellow with acid mine drainage and 800,000 pounds of heavy metals (State of New Mexico v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-cv-465, Navajo Nation v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 16-cv-931, D. N.M., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 22548).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 14 overruled arguments by the federal government and CITGO Petroleum Corp. to a federal judge in Louisiana’s ruling that the company should pay an $81 million civil penalty for violating the Clean Water Act following a 2006 oil spill at its Lake Charles facility, finding that they lacked merit (United States of America v. CITGO Petroleum Corp., No. 16-30515, 5th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 3392).
NEW ORLEANS — Shell Chemical LP on Feb. 12 entered into a consent decree in Louisiana federal court with the government and Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) in which the company agreed to spend $10 million to reduce emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from the use of four industrial flares at its Norco, La., facility (United States of America, et al. v. Shell Chemical LP, No. 18-cv-104, E.D. La.).
HAMMOND, Ind. — A federal judge in Indiana on Feb. 9 upheld a magistrate judge’s ruling denying a motion to intervene filed by nearby residents of a Superfund site, holding that the request, which came two years after a settlement was reached between companies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, was untimely (United States of America v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., No. 14-cv-312, N.D. Ind., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 21524).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The city of Davis, Calif., was cleared of liability from a couple’s request for contribution and cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) by a federal judge in California on Feb. 6 after the couple failed to respond to the city’s motion for summary judgment (Charles H. Lewis, et al. v. Robert D. Russell, et al., No. 03-2646, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 19532).
GREEN BAY, Wis. — The federal government and state of Wisconsin can pursue claims for future response costs from a company that has not settled a lawsuit stemming from the remediation of the Lower Fox River Superfund site, a federal judge in Wisconsin ruled Feb. 5 in granting in part the plaintiffs’ motion for partial summary judgment (United States of America, et al. v. NCR Corp., et al., No. 10cv910, E.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 18408).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — A federal judge in New York on Jan. 18 adopted a magistrate judge’s recommendation to dismiss a third-party lawsuit filed by a company accused of violating the Clean Water Act (CWA) by illegally discharging fill materials into navigable waterways of the United States, finding that the landowner cannot seek contribution under state law because the government is not asserting claims for property damage (United States of America v. David A. Whitehall, et al., No. 14-CV-188, W.D. N.Y., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 8224).
FRESNO, Calif. — Gibson Wine Co. on Jan. 29 entered into an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in which it said it would pay a $330,000 civil penalty and spend $300,000 to make improvements to its facility following a deadly leak of anhydrous ammonia at its Sanger, Calif., site (United States of America v. Gibson Wine Co., No. 15-cv-1900, E.D. Calif.).
ALBANY, N.Y. — After hearing oral arguments on Feb. 6, the New York Court of Appeals is set to decide whether an excess insurer owes coverage to its insured for the time periods when the insured was unable to purchase environmental liability insurance coverage even if the excess insurer’s policies specifically stated that coverage is afforded only for damages occurring during the policy period (KeySpan Gas East Corp. v. Munich Reinsurance America Inc., et al., No. APL-2016-00236, N.Y. App.).
FRESNO, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Feb. 2 denied a landowner’s motion to enforce a settlement agreement with a city accused of contributing to perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination, finding that the city must first resolve a dispute with its insurance carriers to obtain coverage (Gary Coppola, et al. v. Gregory Smith, et al., No. 11-CV-1257 AWI BAM, E.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 17769).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Fourth Department New York Supreme Court Appellate Division on Feb. 2 determined that a trial court properly found that no coverage is owed under professional liability and environmental professional liability policies for a criminal action filed against an insured and arising out of alleged violation of the Clean Air Act because the criminal action does not constitute a suit for which coverage is provided (Certified Environmental Services Inc. v. Endurance America Insurance Co., et al., No. 1510 CA 17-01125, N.Y. Sup., App. Div., 4th Dept., 2018 N.Y. App. Div. LEXIS 704).
HONOLULU — A Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Feb. 1 upheld a ruling awarding summary judgment to five environmental groups, holding that a federal judge did not err when finding that the county of Maui violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) when discharging pollutants from its wells into the Pacific Ocean (Hawaii Wildlife Fund, et al. v. County of Maui, No. 15-1744, 9th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 2582).
SAN DIEGO — Monsanto Co. and its subsidiaries lack standing to assert counterclaims for response costs, defense costs and contingent liability, a federal judge in California ruled Jan. 30, finding that costs incurred in defending a lawsuit over polychlorinated biphenyl (PCB) contamination do not constitute an injury-in-fact (San Diego Unified Port District v. Monsanto Company, et al., No. 15cv578, S.D. Calif., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14996).
CHICAGO — A federal judge in Illinois on Jan. 29 banned a private equity firm from filing any future motions for summary judgment absent good cause and leave from the court after denying a motion seeking dismissal of Honeywell International Inc.’s counterclaim for indemnification for the cleanup of benzene and vinyl chloride contamination at a site in Muncie, Ind. (Hammond Kennedy Whitney & Co. Inc. v. Honeywell International Inc., No. 16-cv-9808, N.D. Ill., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 13917).
NEWARK, N.J. — A New Jersey federal bankruptcy judge on Jan. 26 abstained from deciding a request by former Chapter 11 debtor G-I Holdings Inc. to enforce its reorganization plan injunction to bar indemnification claims for cleanup of a polluted industrial site, saying a state court is “fully capable of adjudicating” the claims and G-I’s injunction bid (In re: G-I Holdings, Inc., et al., Nos. 01-30135 and 01-38790, D. N.J. Bkcy., 2018 Bankr. LEXIS 214).
BIRMINGHAM, Ala.— A federal judge in Georgia on Jan. 23 denied motions for summary judgment filed by two companies arguing that 14 lawsuits for personal injuries and property damage caused by the operation of a pipe-making facility are time-barred, holding that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) commencement date could be applied to the plaintiffs’ claims (William Abner v. United States Pipe & Foundry Co., No. 15-cv-02040-KOB, N.D. Ala., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10146).
BOSTON — A First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 24 affirmed the dismissal of two lawsuits brought by environmental groups against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, holding that the agency’s approval of total maximum discharge limits (TMDLs) of stormwater for bodies of water in Rhode Island and Massachusetts did not trigger a duty to provide notice to potential dischargers (Conservation Law Foundation v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Nos. 17-1166, 17-1354, 1st Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 1734).
HAMMOND, Ind. — The city of Chicago on Jan. 24 sued U.S. Steel Corp. in an Indiana federal court, contending that it is liable for “multiple excessive discharges of toxic chemicals” into Lake Michigan, which is the source of drinking water for more than 5 million people and arguing that U.S. Steel has committed “repeated and significant” violations of its permits under the Clean Water Act (CWA), 33 U.S.C. §§ 1251-1387 (City of Chicago v. United States Steel Corporation, No. 18-33, N.D. Ind.).
BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts dismissed without prejudice an auto salvage yard’s counterclaim stating that an environmental group’s Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit is an abuse of process, finding that any attorney fees awarded to the group could not be considered an ulterior motive for filing the action (Clean Water Action v. Searles Auto Recycling Corp., No. 16-12067-NMG, D. Mass., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 7436).
ST. LOUIS — The Eastern District Missouri Court of Appeals on Dec. 19 affirmed that no coverage exists for the release of methane gas caused by an insured’s remediation of a landfill site because the release did not occur during the effective policy coverage period (Hazelwood Logistics Center LLC v. Illinois Union Insurance Co., No. ED105571, Mo. App., Eastern Div., Div. 1, 2017 Mo. App. LEXIS 1328).