NEW YORK — A judge in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York on April 23 issued a default judgment against a group of Ecuadorian residents who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. for injuries, only to have it reversed, and imposed a constructive trust against those residents for the benefit of Chevron (Chevron Corporation v. Donziger, et al., No. 11 Civ. 691, S.D. N.Y.).
PITTSBURGH — MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC and Ohio Gathering Co. LLC (collectively MarkWest) on April 23 agreed to pay a $691,000 civil penalty and complete three environmental projects to resolve allegations from the federal government, state of Pennsylvania and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection for excessive emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from two of its facilities, according to a complaint and consent decree filed in Pennsylvania federal court (United States, et al. v. MarkWest Liberty Midstream & Resources LLC, et al., No. 18-cv-520, W.D. Pa.).
TOLEDO, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on April 11 denied environmental groups’ request to compel the Environmental Protection Agency to comply with a deadline for conducting an evaluation of the water quality in Lake Erie related to its potability and gave the agency 30 days to approve or disapprove the state’s list of impaired waters (Environmental Law and Policy Center, et al. v. United States Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. 17-1514, N.D. Ohio; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 61569).
DETROIT — A resident of the city of Flint, Mich., on April 12 joined the consolidated lawsuit against the city, Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, state agencies and consulting firms, alleging that they are liable for injuries from the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city (Allen Bryant Jr. v Gov. Rick Snyder, et al., No. 18-11173, E.D. Mich.).
BOSTON — Massachusetts residents on April 18 filed a putative class action against The 3M Co. and others in federal court, seeking more than $5 million for personal injuries they allege were caused by aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) the defendants manufactured and used at a training facility for firefighters, which has leaked into the local drinking water (Christine Civitarese, et al. v. The 3M Co., et al., No. 18-10747, D. Mass.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Supreme Court on April 16 denied a petition for certiorari filed by an employee of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), who contended that the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals erred when it held that a lawsuit brought by residents of Flint, Mich., relating to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in the city belongs in state court (Patrick Cook v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-1144, U.S. Sup.).
CINCINNATI — A panel of the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 16 ruled that a lawsuit brought by residents of Flint, Mich., against the state water quality agency and other officials belongs in state court because federal officer removal is not proper (Tamara Nappier v. Richard Snyder, et al., No. 17-1401, 6th Cir.; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 9421).
SAN DIEGO — The owners of three mobile home parks cannot seek to recover future remediation costs to clean up contamination at their properties caused by the migration of hazardous substances from an adjoining property, a federal judge in California ruled April 12, finding that California law bars the recovery of the damages (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 62407).
MILWAUKEE — One of the attorneys representing residents who sued paint companies alleging injuries from exposure to lead-based paint on April 3 sent a letter to Wisconsin federal judge presiding over the case, contending that defendant Atlantic Richfield Co.’s (ARCO) motion to exclude the testimony of the plaintiffs’ experts is “in error” (Glenn Burton v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0303, E.D. Wis.).
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on April 13 dismissed charges against a third-party plaintiff in a lawsuit brought by an environmental group that contends that glass-polishing activities contributed to local groundwater contamination. The glass manufacturer sued the third party, contending that it shared liability, but the judge said the third party produced evidence that it possessed the proper permits to conduct its operations (PennEnvironment, et al. v. PPG Industries Inc., et al. v. AS America Inc., et al., No. 12-342, W.D. Pa.).
DETROIT — The co-liaison counsel that represents some of the individual plaintiffs in the lead-contaminated water crisis lawsuit brought against the city of Flint, Mich., on April 9 filed a brief in Michigan federal court contending that a motion filed by interim co-lead class counsel, which represents the entire class of plaintiffs, seeking replacement of the co-liaison counsel is “nothing but a retaliatory smear campaign” against the co-liaison counsel (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
LANCASTER, Pa. — A Pennsylvania woman who is also the executrix for the estate of a man who died following chemical exposure in his workplace filed a brief in state court on April 3, contending that the defendants’ attempt to exclude discovery that is reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence “impermissibly infringes on” her due process right to discovery (Kimberly Williams, as Executrix of the Estate of Robert Whetts Jr., et al. v. Armstrong World Industries Inc., et al., No. CI-16-10715, Pa. Comm. Pls., Lancaster Co.).
ALBANY, N.Y. — The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on April 12 announced that it has entered into a consent decree with the Town of Ticonderoga, N.Y., under which the town will switch the source of some of the drinking water it provides to bring the town into compliance with federal law pertaining to safe drinking water, as well as state code (United States of America, et al. v. Town of Ticonderoga, N.Y., No. 18-442, N.D. N.Y.).
DENVER — The 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 10 agreed with a trial court that opinions of two experts that long-ago exposure to benzene caused a woman’s leukemia failed due in part to a lack of reliability in their methods and that without the expert’s testimony, summary judgment on causation to defendant oil companies is appropriate (Samantha Hall v. Conoco Inc., et al., No. 17-6086, 10th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8944).
ST. LOUIS — A panel of the Eighth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 5 reversed a $13 million punitive damages ruling in a chemical exposure case and held that a new damages trial was appropriate because a lower court erroneously concluded that judicial estoppel applied based on an inconsistent position taken by the defendants in a separate case related to successor-in-interest liability (Jodelle L. Kirk v. Schaeffler Group USA Inc., et al., No. 16-3417, 8th Cir.; 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 9012).
ANNISTON, Ala. — A federal judge in Alabama on April 5 denied Monsanto Co.’s motion to dismiss a chemical exposure case against it brought by a man who contends that he developed leukemia as a result of drinking water contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that were manufactured by Monsanto (Carl R. Arrington v. Monsanto Chemical, No. 17-1585, N.D. Ala.; 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 58092).
RICHMOND, Va. — A divided panel of the Fourth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on April 12 vacated and remanded a ruling by a district court, concluding that conservation groups have a valid claim against a company whose pipeline leaked 369,000 gallons of gasoline into local groundwater and other water sources (Upstate Forever, et al. v. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP, et al., No. 17-1640, 4th Cir.).
MADISON, Wis. — A federal judge in Wisconsin on March 30 awarded summary judgment to defendants in a lawsuit brought by a couple alleging that demolition of an industrial facility on a nearby property caused their land to be contaminated with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), finding that the plaintiffs failed to produce any evidence to show that the contamination occurred as a result of the demolition (William Liebhart, et al. v. SPX Corp., et al, No. 16-cv-700-jdp, W.D. Wis., 2018 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 54994).
CINCINNATI — The corporate successor to two companies that operated a manufactured gas facility in Florida is not indirectly liable to contribute to a plaintiff company’s response costs to clean up groundwater contamination under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), a Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel ruled April 10 in affirming the defendant’s award of summary judgment (Duke Energy Florida LLC v. FirstEnergy Corp., No. 17-3024, 6th Cir., 2018 U.S. App. LEXIS 8932).
DETROIT — A federal judge in Michigan on April 5 ruled that personal jurisdiction exists over an engineering consulting company named as a defendant in the lead-contaminated water lawsuit brought by the residents of Flint, Mich., because evidence indicates that the company has performed other work in Michigan, which means it has a presence in the state (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).