PORTLAND, Ore. — A 2-1 panel of the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 17 overturned a federal judge in Oregon’s ruling denying dismissal of a lawsuit brought by a number of youths and an environmental group claiming that the federal government knew about the association between climate change and the burning of fossil fuels, finding that they lacked standing under Article III of the U.S. Constitution because a court cannot redress their injuries (Kelsey Cascadia Rose Juliana, et al. v. United States, et al., No. 18-36082, 9th Cir.).
PHILADELPHIA — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Jan. 15 ruled that perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS) and pefluorooctanic acid (PFOA), which are two types of perfluorinated compounds (PFCs), are not hazardous substances under Pennsylvania’s Hazardous Sites Cleanup Act (HSCA); therefore, the U.S. Department of the Navy is not liable for remediation of local residents’ groundwater contamination (Kristen Giovanni, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Navy, No. 16-4873, Dorothy Palmer, et al. v. U.S. Department of the Navy, No. 17-765, E.D. Pa.).
DENVER — Four amicus curiae briefs filed in the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 14 say that a federal judge in Colorado’s ruling remanding a lawsuit brought by two Colorado counties and one city over climate change should be affirmed because the lawsuit does not raise federal issues (Board of County Commissioners of Boulder County, et al. v. Suncor Energy [U.S.A.] Inc., et al., No. 19-1330, 10th Cir.).
NEW ORLEANS — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Jan. 14 upheld five awards totaling $15 million that were issued to Wal Mart Stores East L.P. (Walmart) for business and economic losses (BEL) sustained as a result of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico that followed the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig, holding that changes in the retailer’s accounting system were sufficiently addressed when calculating profits and losses were properly addressed by the Court Supervised Settlement Program (CSSP) and the CSSP appeals panels that reviewed the awards (BP Exploration & Production Inc., et al. v. Claimant ID 100354107, No. 18-31115, 5th Cir.).
NEWARK, N.J. — Addressing one of the existing discovery disputes in a class action over alleged environmental impact misrepresentation by Mercedes-Benz USA LLC, a New Jersey federal special master on Jan. 9 declined to require the automaker to use technology assisted review (TAR) in searching electronically stored information (ESI) for documents responsive to the plaintiffs’ discovery requests (In Re Mercedes-Benz Emissions Litigation, No. 2-16-cv-00881, D. N.J., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3781).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. House of Representatives on Jan. 10 voted 247-159 in favor of a measure that would require perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) substances to be listed as hazardous substances under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA).
BOISE, Idaho — A federal judge in Idaho on Jan. 8 denied a motion to stay the Nez Perce Tribe’s lawsuit against Midas Gold Corp. and its subsidiaries over allegedly illegal discharges of mining waste, finding that there is no sign that an agreement between the company and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency over remediation at the site will be finalized in the next six months (Nez Perce Tribe v. Midas Gold Corp., et al., No. 19-cv-307, D. Idaho, 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 4707).
PITTSBURGH — A Pennsylvania federal magistrate judge on Dec. 31 recommended granting an insurer’s motion for summary judgment and denying an insured’s motion for summary judgment because it is clear that a pollution exclusion bars coverage for a black powder that contaminated the insured’s property (Vale Vista Associates L.P. v. The Cincinnati Casualty Co., No. 18-1064, W.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 223366).
CHICAGO —The Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 8 heard oral arguments in an environmental contamination coverage suit and will decide if a district court properly found that an insurer owes no coverage for environmental contamination claims asserted by neighbors based on the insured’s alleged late notice (Carmine Greene, et al. v. Kenneth Will, et al., No. 19-2260, 7th Cir.).
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — A federal judge in Alabama on Jan. 7 dismissed a landowner’s lawsuit against a pipeline owner over alleged property damage stemming from the cleanup of a 300,000-gallon gas spill, finding that the claims were premature because remediation efforts have not been completed (Valley Creek Land & Timber LLC v. Colonial Pipeline Co., No. 19-CV-970, N.D. Ala., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 2102).
FORT MYERS, Fla.— A federal judge in Florida on Jan. 6 granted a city’s motion for partial summary judgment on a Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) claim brought by residents who lived near a site where lime sludge from the city’s wastewater treatment plant was dumped, holding that there is no evidence that the site presents an imminent or substantial risk to human health or the environment since the sludge has been removed (Deretha Miller, et al. v. City of Fort Myers, No. 18-cv-195, M.D. Fla., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 1356).
BOSTON — Massachusetts’ lawsuit against Exxon Mobil Corp. over the company’s marketing of its Synergy gasoline and “green” motor oil should be remanded because the action does not raise federal issues, the state says in a Dec. 26 motion to remand (Massachusetts v. Exxon Mobil Corp., No. 19-12430, D. Mass.).
BOSTON — Rhode Island told the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Jan. 2 that its review of a ruling remanding its climate change lawsuit should be limited to whether the judge properly found that its claims are not subject to federal jurisdiction under the federal officer statute (Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co. LLC, et al., No. 19-1818, 1st Cir.).
BOSTON — Seven amicus curiae briefs, including one by 13 states, were filed in the First Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2 in support of the remand of Rhode Island’s lawsuit against oil companies over climate change, arguing that there is no basis for federal jurisdiction for the state’s allegations that the companies knew that the burning of fossil fuels contributes to global warming and climate change (Rhode Island v. Shell Oil Products Co. LLC, et al., No. 19-1818, 1st Cir.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Dec. 16 dismissed counterclaims seeking attorney fees from plaintiff companies in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) lawsuit, holding that the fees are not available in cases seeking cost recovery under the statute (Garrison Southfield Park LLC v. Closed Loop Refining & Recovery Inc., et al., No. 17-cv-783, S.D. Ohio, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 217764).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Dec. 26 entered judgment against 18 defaulting third-party defendants in a Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act contribution action and ordered them to each pay $13,346.60 after finding that it is allowable to require them to pay a per capita allocation of cleanup costs for a former landfill site (New York v. Town of North Hempstead, et al., No. 13-cv-6355, E.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel on Dec. 27 affirmed dismissal of a lawsuit brought by residents of a neighborhood who were seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for money spent remediating contamination from a burst sewer main, finding that they failed to show that their actions complied with the National Contingency Plan (NCP) (Marquette R. Miller, et al. v. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, et al., No. 18-7169, D.C. Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 38633).
RIVERSIDE, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Dec. 20 denied a motion for judgment on the pleadings brought by two estates seeking cost recovery under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) for remediation costs associated with the cleanup of perchloroethylene (PCE) contamination caused by dry cleaning operations, finding that insurers can represent two defendant estates and a suspended corporation (Estate of Betty Goldberg, et al. v. Goss-Jewett Co., et al., No. 14-1872, C.D. Calif.).
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — A federal magistrate judge in New York on Dec. 16 refused to consolidate two lawsuits brought under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) and Clean Air Act (CAA) against the operator of a landfill over noxious emissions, holding that it would be prejudicial to the plaintiffs (Fresh Air for the Eastside Inc. v. Waste Management of New York LLC, et al., No. 18-cv-6588, W.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216168).
FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Residents of a housing complex that was built on property that was later designated a Superfund site cannot seek to recover costs for the investigation of lead and arsenic contamination and relocation to temporary housing under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, a federal judge in Indiana ruled Dec. 16 in granting a motion for partial summary judgment filed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. and The Chemours Co., finding that the plaintiffs were required to pay their attorney for the investigative costs pursuant to a retainer agreement and that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency agreed to pay for temporary housing (Lerithea Rolan, et al. v. Atlantic Richfield Co., et al., No. 16-cv-357, N.D. Ind., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 216744).