Mealey's Toxic Torts

  • February 16, 2018

    California High Court Denies Review Of $1.15B Award In Lead Paint Lawsuit

    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.).

  • February 16, 2018

    City Sues Chemical Companies For Damages To Groundwater From Fire-Fighting Foam

    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.).

  • February 16, 2018

    Chemical Injury Case Barred By Workers’ Compensation Law, Companies Say

    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.).

  • February 15, 2018

    Plaintiffs’ Attempt To Lift Discovery Stay ‘Improper,’ Company Argues

    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.).

  • February 15, 2018

    Judge: MDL Court Applied ‘Incorrect’ Legal Standard; MTBE Negligence Claim Valid

    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.).

  • February 15, 2018

    Plaintiffs In Lead Case Seek Sanctions, Say Defense Counsel Withheld Evidence

    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.).

  • February 15, 2018

    Whistleblower: Issues Remain About Protected Speech In Flint Water Crisis Case

    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.).

  • February 14, 2018

    Agency Seeks To Rescind Most Of 2016 Methane Waste Prevention Rule

    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.

  • February 14, 2018

    Class Of Oil Platform, Processing Facility Workers Certified In Oil Spill Suit

    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.).

  • February 14, 2018

    Groups: Review Of EPA Permit For Dumping Fracking Waste In Gulf Of Mexico Needed

    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.).

  • February 13, 2018

    Class, Defendants Debate Jurisdiction And Discovery In Flint Lead Water Case

    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.).

  • February 13, 2018

    DuPont C8 Trial Judge Approves Payment Of More Than $1.78M To Claims Administrator

    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).

  • February 13, 2018

    Shell To Pay $10M To Reduce Excessive Emissions From Industrial Flares

    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.).

  • February 12, 2018

    Judge Affirms Denial Of Residents' Intervention Request In Contamination Suit

    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).

  • February 9, 2018

    Study: Fracking Fluids Alter Mice At ‘Environmentally Relevant’ Exposure Levels

    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.”

  • February 8, 2018

    COMMENTARY: When Strategies Go Awry: Part 4 In A Series On Cognitive Biases And Their Impact

    By Laura A. Frase

  • February 7, 2018

    Winemaker Agrees To Pay $330,000 For Deadly Ammonia Leak

    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.).

  • February 5, 2018

    Residents: Supreme Court Should Not Hear Appeal Of Flint Water Crisis Ruling

    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.).

  • February 5, 2018

    Judge: Settlement Cannot Be Enforced Until City Resolves Insurance Dispute

    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).

  • February 5, 2018

    Judge: Tainted Groundwater Case Not Precluded By Fracking Services Contract

    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.).