Environmental Civil Procedure Civil Remedies

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California Federal Court Dismisses CERCLA Claims and Strikes Request for Attorneys’ Fees

In N. Cal. River Watch v. Fluor Corp., __F.Supp.3d__, 2014 WL 4954638 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2014), a Northern California district court dismissed Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (“CERCLA”)...more

California Trial Court Orders New Trial On Claim that Recology Violated CFCA

A California trial court recently overturned a jury verdict finding Recology San Francisco liable for violating the California False Claims Act (CFCA) and granted Recology’s motion for a new trial. The court’s ruling comes...more

Minnesota Federal Court Clarifies Pleading Standard in Vapor Contamination Case

In an opinion that may help clarify the jurisdictional and pleading requirements for plaintiffs seeking damages and injunctive relief for alleged injuries from vapor intrusion, the federal district court in Minnesota denied a...more

New Jersey Landowner Forfeits Damages by Allowing Defendant to Remediate

In what may be a cautionary tale for owners of contaminated property, a New Jersey appellate court has ruled that a landowner forfeited any claim to property damages when he allowed the responsible party to perform...more

Texas High Court Finds Expert Opinion on Stigma Damages Too Speculative

Clarifying when expert testimony on alleged diminution in property value becomes legally sufficient to support a so-called “stigma” claim, the Texas Supreme Court struck down a $350,000 jury verdict based on environmental...more

Federal Court Orders DOT to Respond to Sierra Club’s Unsafe Tank Car Lawsuit

A Federal Court has ordered the Department of Transportation (DOT) to respond to a lawsuit filed by three environmental organizations—Earthjustice, Sierra Club and ForestEthics—in which the parties asked the court to order...more

Kansas Appellate Court Disallows Strict Liability Claims for Refinery’s Alleged Discharge of Pollutants

In City of Neodesha v. BP Corporation North America, Inc., 2014 WL 4116576, which involved BP’s successful defense of claims relating discharges from its refinery, the Court of Appeals of Kansas affirmed the denial of the...more

Seventh Circuit Uses Fed. R. Civ. P. 60(b)(5) to Reopen 23-Year Old Judgment

Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b)(5) allows a party to move for relief from a final judgment on the ground that “it prospectively is no longer equitable.” Motions under Rule 60(b)(5) must be made “within a reasonable...more

District of Arizona Rethinks NEPA’s Zone of Interests in Light of Recent Supreme Court Opinion on “Prudential” Standing

On September 30, 2014, the United States District Court for the District of Arizona (Campbell, D.J.) issued an order in Yount v. Salazar, Nos. 11-8171 et al., 2014 WL 4904423 (D. Ariz. Sept. 30, 2014). As part of this order,...more

Public Agency May Recover the Cost of Supplementing Administrative Record

In CEQA litigation, the party challenging the project can either request that the agency prepare the record of proceedings (“Record”), or prepare the Record itself, subject to certification by the lead agency. In either case,...more

Attorney Labor For Preparing CEQA Administrative Record Is Recoverable Cost Where Specialized Knowledge Required, Holds Fourth...

In a partially-published opinion filed September 29, 2014, the Fourth District Court of Appeal affirmed an order and judgment permitting the County of San Diego to recover actual labor costs incurred for an attorney and...more

The Expanding Availability of Apportionment To Limit Liability in Superfund Cases

In Burlington Northern in 2008, the US Supreme Court ruled that Superfund liability could be apportioned whenever there was a reasonable basis for showing that the harm was divisible, such as by considering the length of time...more

CEQA Reform in the Courts – Public Agency Can Recover Costs Despite Petitioner's Election

After Governor Brown took office for the second time, CEQA reform through the Legislature seemed like a distinct possibility. While that possibility has all but evaporated, recent rulings suggest that courts are taking a...more

CEQA Administrative Record Preparation Costs – Who Pays and When? First District Provides Guidance In Coalition For Adequate...

In a published decision filed September 15, 2014, the First District Court of Appeal reversed and remanded a trial court’s post-judgment order granting an unsuccessful CEQA petitioner’s motion to tax the entire $64,144 cost...more

Yes, Virginia, It Is Possible To Win A Fee Award Against An Environmental NGO

Last week, Judge Walter Smith, Jr., ordered the Sierra Club to pay more than six million dollars – yes, you read that correctly – to Energy Future Holdings and Luminant Generation, after finding that the Sierra Club’s Clean...more

CEQA: Are time extensions for nonconforming uses exempt from review?

Is an extension of time for an existing nonconforming use exempt from CEQA review? A new writ action just filed proposes to resolve that issue....more

Federal Court Determines Low Levels of Carcinogens PCE and TCE Insufficient to Establish Private RCRA Cause of Action Absent...

Further underscoring the importance of expert testimony to support environmental claims, the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey in Leese v. Lockheed Martin Corp., et al., No. 11-5091 (JBS/AMD), 2014...more

Fifth Circuit Reins In Trend of Expanding ESA Liability for Remote Harm

The Fifth Circuit's recent decision in The Aransas Project v. Shaw, No. 13-40317 (5th Cir. June 30, 2014), clarified two points relating to the element of causation in claims under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). ...more

BP Oil Spill Litigation – Current Status of the Litigation

As many are aware, BP entered into a Settlement Agreement to compensate citizens of areas surrounding the Gulf of Mexico for losses arising from the epic oil spill in 2010. There has been substantial litigation and appellate...more

Seventh Circuit Holds Federal Agencies Can Be Sued for Public Nuisance, But Affirms Dismissal of Claim

On July 14, 2014, the Seventh Circuit decided Michigan et al. v. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers et al. (Wood, C.J., writing for a unanimous panel). While the court ultimately affirmed dismissal of the underlying action, the...more

CERCLA Contribution and Trust Funds: A Matter for State Law

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals in New York recently held that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as Superfund, does not require contribution from...more

District Court Denies Motion to Enjoin Delta Water Transfers

Last Friday, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California denied a motion brought by environmental groups to enjoin a water transfer project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta (Delta). Plaintiffs...more

Proximate Cause and Foreseeability Are Required Elements of Endangered Species Act Liability: Fifth Circuit Reverses Injunction...

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed an injunction that would have prohibited the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (“TCEQ”) from issuing new water withdrawal permits affecting an estuary where...more

Court of Appeal Upholds State Water Board Regulation Targeting Frost-Prevention Activities of Vineyards in Mendocino and Sonoma...

In Light v. State Water Resources Control Board (Opinion filed 6/16/2014), California’s First Appellate District upheld a State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) regulation that will potentially limit the amount of water...more

One Step Closer… Fifth Circuit Affirms BP Loss on CWA Liability Regarding Gulf Spill

The Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico occurred over four years ago, accompanied by numerous stories trumpeting the fact that BP would likely pay as much as $25 billion to the United States in civil penalties...more

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