WASHINGTON, D.C. — Environmental groups on Sept. 15 moved in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for an emergency stay of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to rescind the 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule, arguing that the EPA administrator engaged in a "transparent effort to manufacture reasons to rescind protections" designed to reduce pollution caused by the flaring of methane during oil and gas operations (Environmental Defense Fund, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-1359, D.C. Cir.).
CHICAGO — A trial court correctly determined that an insurer has no duty to defend or indemnify its insured for allegedly concealing information about its knowledge of toxic chemicals in a well used to supply a village's drinking water because the underlying lawsuits filed against the insured allege intentional acts for which no coverage is afforded, the majority of the First District Illinois Appellate Court said Sept. 14 (General Casualty Company of Wisconsin v. Burke Engineering Corp., et al., No. 1-19-1648, Ill. App., 1st Dist., 2020 Ill. App. LEXIS 614).
NEW YORK — One of the attorneys on the defense team for Steven R. Donziger, the attorney who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. in a court in Ecuador for injuries only to have it reversed, on Sept. 14 sent a letter to the New York federal judge presiding over Donziger's criminal contempt trial calling on her to recuse herself for "flagrant bias" and violations of judicial ethics (United States v. Donziger, Nos. 19-561 and 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).
SAN FRANCISCO — An attorney for some of the plaintiffs who are part of the Roundup Products Liability multidistrict litigation against Monsanto Co. in California federal court sent a letter to the MDL judge on Sept. 14 to address issues pending related to the proposed settlement with Monsanto's parent company Bayer Corp., indicating that he intends to file numerous motions to advance the litigation because "the only thing that motivates Monsanto to settle is trial" (In re: Roundup Production Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, N.D. Calif.).
GEORGETOWN, Del. — A chicken processing plant in a Sept. 15 motion asked a Delaware state court to order plaintiffs who are suing the company for groundwater contamination to show cause why a "prejudicial" video published to the internet platform YouTube does not violate a gag order issued by the judge in 2018 (Gary and Anna-Marie Cuppels, et al. v. Mountaire Corporation, et al., No. S18C-06-009, Del. Super., Sussex Co.).
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — A federal judge in Virginia on Sept. 11 denied an environmental group's motion to stay implementation of an update to the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) that deletes the central provisions of the law and accelerates the approval process for various construction projects. The judge held that the groups did not make a clear showing that they were likely to succeed on the merits as a prerequisite to a preliminary injunction (Wild Virginia, et al. v. Council of Environmental Quality, et al., No. 20-45, W.D. Va., 2020 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166622).
SAN FRANCISCO — A cancer victim on Aug. 21 filed a brief in the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals contending that Monsanto Co. "buried evidence" and "deceived" the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regarding the true risks associated with the herbicide Roundup, which contains glyphosate (Edwin Hardeman v. Monsanto Company, Nos. 19-16636 and 19-16708, 9th Cir.).
GEORGETOWN, Del. — A couple who sued a chicken processing plant for groundwater contamination on Sept. 9 filed a reply brief in Delaware state court contending that cross-designation in the Superior Court and the Court of Chancery is appropriate because even though issues of equity exist in the lawsuit, there is no precedent where the Chancery Court has presided over a class action environmental tort case such as the one at hand (Gary and Anna-Marie Cuppels, et al. v. Mountaire Corporation, et al., No. S18C-06-009, Del. Super., Sussex Co.).
CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The states of Wyoming and Montana on Sept. 4 filed a joint reply brief in Wyoming federal court contending that the 2016 the Methane Waste Prevention Rule, which requires oil and gas producers to use currently available technologies and processes to cut flaring in half at oil wells on public and tribal lands in an effort to reduce methane pollution, is "unlawful" and should be vacated (Wyoming, et al. v. United States Department of the Interior, et al., No. 16-285, D. Wyo.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Two hydraulic fracturing industry trade groups on Sept. 4 moved in California federal court to intervene in a drinking water lawsuit brought pursuant to the Clean Water Act (CWA), contending that some states have "improperly used procedural gimmicks" to prolong certification decisions the companies need to conduct fracking operations (American Rivers, et al. v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. 20-4636, N.D. Calif.).
LOS ANGELES — The city of Seattle filed an objection in federal court in California on Aug. 27 to a proposed $820 million settlement between municipalities and the makers of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) over contamination to waterways, arguing that the approval of the settlement agreement's definition of released claims and a contribution protection provision would impair the city's rights, as well as "the rights of untold numbers of other persons," because it releases claims "related to the manufacture, sale, testing, disposal, release, marketing or management" of the chemical (Long Beach v. Monsanto Co., et al., No. 16-3493, C.D. Calif.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Residents filed a putative class action lawsuit in Ohio federal court on Sept. 3, contending that numerous energy companies are liable for poisoning workers at their companies and residents in the community as a result of the past operation and the present decommissioning of a nuclear industrial site that has tainted the water, air and land (Jeffery Walburn, et al. v. Centrus Energy Corp., No. 20-4621, S.D. Ohio).
DETROIT — A group of Flint, Mich., residents, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and local clergy on Sept. 4 moved in Michigan federal court for expedited consideration to ensure that the city complies with its obligations under an $87 million settlement agreement the parties reached related to the lead-contaminated water crisis in the city (Concerned Pastors for Social Action, et al. v. Nick A. Khouri, et al., No. 16-10277, E.D. Mich.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Sept. 4 postponed until Nov. 3 the criminal contempt trial of Steven R. Donziger, the attorney who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. in a court in Ecuador for injuries only to have it reversed, and ruled that Donziger's former attorney would not be forced to return to his defense team (United States v. Donziger, Nos. 19-561 and 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Monsanto Co. on Sept. 8 filed a notice in the Judicial Panel for Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) to transfer two glyphosate cancer lawsuits to the multidistrict litigation in California federal court (In re: Roundup Production Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2741, JPMDL).
ANCHORAGE, Alaska — The United States is mostly shielded by the discretionary function exception in the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) from an Alaska Native's attempts to hold it liable for contamination of her property from toxic waste left at an abandoned Air Force radar station, though the government must face her claim that its inaction after discovering the contamination makes it liable for damages, the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals decided Sept. 4 (Emily Nanouk v. United States, No. 19-35116, 9th Cir., 2020 U.S. App. LEXIS 28216).
GEORGETOWN, Del. — A chicken processing plant on Sept. 3 filed a brief in a Delaware state court contending that the couple who sued it for groundwater contamination filed the case in the wrong court and that a request to have the case cross-designated in two state courts should be denied because it asks a vice chancellor to exercise authority that he lacks (Gary and Anna-Marie Cuppels, et al. v. Mountaire Corporation, et al., No. S18C-06-009, Del. Super., Sussex Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) filed a petition for review in the District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals on Sept. 3, arguing that pursuant to federal law, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency should set aside its final action in which it decided not to regulate perchlorate in drinking water (Natural Resources Defense Council v. Andrew Wheeler, et al., No. N/A, D.C. Cir.).
NEW YORK — A New York federal judge erred in granting an insured's motion to confirm an arbitration award in favor of the insured for underlying groundwater contamination liabilities because the arbitration panel's interpretation of a portion of the pollution exclusion constitutes a manifest disregard of the law, an insurer contends in a Sept. 2 appellant brief filed in the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (HDI Global SE, f/k/a HDI Gerling Industrie Versicherung AG v. Phillips 66 Co., No. 20-1743, 2nd Cir.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge in New York on Sept. 4 ordered an attorney to continue representing Steven R. Donziger, the attorney who won an $18.5 billion judgment against Chevron Corp. in a court in Ecuador for injuries only to have it reversed, despite his attempt to withdraw, and the judge ordered the attorney to file any further communications about the case in the electronic docket rather than in the form of personal emails to the judge's chambers (United States v. Donziger, Nos. 19-561 and 11-691, S.D. N.Y.).