SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Supreme Court on Feb. 14 denied a petition for review filed by the former makers of lead-based paint who contended that the high court should hear their appeal because an appellate court “misstated and omitted material facts” when it found that there was “substantial evidence” that the companies promoted paints containing white lead pigments for interior residential use (The People v. ConAgra Grocery Products Company, et al., No. S246102, Calif. Sup.).
BOSTON — The city of Westfield, Mass., on Feb. 14 filed a lawsuit in Massachusetts federal court against 3M Co. and other chemical companies, seeking to recover costs associated with soil and groundwater cleanup due to contamination from the defendants’ manufacture and use of aqueous film forming foam (AFFF) (City of Westfield, Massachusetts v. 3M, et al., No. 18-30027, D. Mass.).
LANCASTER, Pa. — Armstrong World Industries Inc. and a German chemical company on Feb. 8 filed a joint brief in Pennsylvania state court contending that the third amended complaint filed by a former employee who says he was injured from exposure to trichloroethylene (TCE) and methylene chloride (MC) should be dismissed because the claims are barred by the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act (WCA) (Jose Rivera v. Armstrong World Industries Inc., et al., No. CI-15-06542, Pa. Comm. Pls., Lancaster Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PGE) filed a brief in California federal court on Jan. 25 arguing that the plaintiffs, who allege that the company’s manufactured gas plant (MGP) has contaminated local groundwater, made an “improper” motion for an order confirming the lack of any stay of discovery in the action or, alternatively, an order lifting the stay (San Francisco Herring Association, et al. v. Pacific Gas & Electric Company, No. 14-04393, N.D. Calif.).
SANTA ANA, Calif. — A federal judge in California on Feb. 8 granted a motion for reconsideration filed by the Orange County Water District (OCWD) in its methyl tertiary butyl ether (MTBE) groundwater contamination lawsuit against various gasoline companies, ruling that the multidistrict litigation court wrongly dismissed the OCWD’s negligence causes of action by relying on “an incorrect legal standard” (Orange County Water District v. Unocal Corporation, et al., No. 03-1742, C.D. Calif.).
MILWAUKEE — Three residents filed a brief in a Wisconsin federal court on Feb. 8 asking it to consider sanctions against the attorney of a company they sued for allegedly causing their injuries from exposure to lead-based paint, on grounds that the attorney withheld evidence concerning the successor-in-interest status of his client (Glenn Burton v. American Cyanamid, et al., No. 07-0303, E.D. Wis.).
CINCINNATI — A woman who was formerly the administrator for the city of Flint, Mich., and then became a whistleblower after the lead-contaminated water crisis in that city on Feb. 14 filed a brief in the Sixth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that a district court erred when it granted the city’s motion for summary judgment because there are genuine disputes of material facts regarding her claims under state law, as well as the First Amendment (Natasha Henderson v. City of Flint, Mich., No. 17-2031, 6th Cir.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on Feb. 13 announced its proposed changes to the 2016 Waste Prevention Rule, calling for the rescission of the majority of regulations on oil and gas operators who had been required to control the venting and flaring of methane produced by drilling activities.
LOS ANGELES — A California federal judge on Feb. 9 certified one of two proposed subclasses, comprising oil platform and processing facility workers, in a lawsuit against the operators of a Santa Barbara, Calif., pipeline that leaked into the Pacific Ocean in May 2015, finding that common questions predominate (Keith Andrews, et al. v. Plains All American Pipeline, L.P., et al., No. 15-4113, C.D. Calif.).
NEW ORLEANS — The Center for Biological Diversity (CBD) and two other environmental advocacy groups on Feb. 13 filed a petition in the Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that the Circuit Court should review an Environmental Protection Agency permit that allows oil companies to discharge toxins into the Gulf of Mexico, which the CBD argues puts coastal communities at risk (Center for Biological Diversity, et al. v. Environmental Protection Agency, et al., No. N/A, 5th Cir.).
DETROIT — Engineering consultants named as defendants in the lead-contaminated water crisis in Flint, Mich., and the class of plaintiffs alleging that they have been injured by that water on Feb. 9 filed briefs debating whether the federal district court has jurisdiction to order certain discovery at the current stage of the litigation (In re Flint Water Cases [Luke Waid, et al. v. Richard D. Snyder, et al.], No. 16-10444, E.D. Mich.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — A federal judge in Ohio on Feb. 9 granted a motion by plaintiffs in the multidistrict litigation brought against E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. for alleged injuries connected to exposure to perfluorooctanoic acid (known as C8), approving the interim disbursement of $1,787,500 to the claims administrator for services rendered (In re: E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Co. C8 Personal Injury Litigation, MDL No. 2433, No. 13-2433, S.D. Ohio).
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).
AMHERST, Mass. — Researchers at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and the University of Missouri-Columbia on Feb. 7 released a hydraulic fracturing study that suggests that the mammary gland in female mice is sensitive to mixtures of chemicals used in fracking at exposure levels that are “environmentally relevant.” The researchers conclude that “the impact of these findings on the long-term health of the mammary gland, including its lactational capacity and its risk of cancer, should be evaluated in future studies.”
By Laura A. Frase
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.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of Michigan residents on Feb. 5 filed a consolidated brief in the U.S. Supreme Court arguing that three separate petitions for writ of certiorari filed by various Michigan entities should be denied because a federal appellate panel “faithfully applied this Court’s precedents” when it ruled that the residents’ claims related to the lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in Flint, Mich., are not preempted by the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (Daniel Wyant, et al. v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-901, Jeff Wright, et al. v. Melissa Mays, et al., No. 17-666, and City of Flint, et al. v. Beatrice Boler, et al., No. 17-989, U.S. Sup.).
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).
PITTSBURGH — A federal judge in Pennsylvania on Feb. 1 denied a well services company’s motion to dismiss a breach of contract lawsuit against it related to groundwater contamination that the company allegedly caused by failing to perform services properly on a hydraulic fracturing well site (EQT Production Company v. Terra Services LLC, No. 14-01053, W.D. Pa.).