Toxic Torts Updates

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EPA's Concern Over TCE Vapor Intrusion Is Misguided

On July 9, 2014, the Director of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Superfund Division in Region 9 issued a memo to staff setting an “operational framework” to address “inhalation exposures [to trichloroethylene] in...more

CERCLA’s Three Year Statute of Limitations for Contribution Applies To Non-CERCLA Settlements

Parties which settle environmental liability in a judicially approved settlement have three years from the date of that settlement in which to seek contribution even if the settlement is not a CERCLA settlement. That is the...more

The Wait Is Over: Liable Parties Can Now Seek Early Contribution Claims Without New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection...

The recent Supreme Court of New Jersey ruling in Magic Petroleum v. Exxon Mobil demonstrates a trial court’s ability to allocate liability to “dischargers” while maintaining the role of the state’s Department of...more

Not So Fast: New York’s High Court Relieves Pressure on Liability Carriers to Disclaim Coverage “As Soon As Possible”

Under a New York statute, a liability insurer that denies coverage for a death or bodily injury claim must provide written notice of its decision “as soon as is reasonably possible.” Last year, in Long Island Lighting Co. v....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

Importance of Judicial Approval of CERCLA Settlements

Before a Superfund settlement becomes enforceable, it must be reviewed by a federal court to confirm that it is fair, reasonable, and consistent with CERCLA’s objectives. This judicial review is at the heart of CERCLA’s...more

Grant Recipients Likely to Accept a 50 Percent Share of Cleanup Costs Under New Washington Grant Funding Rule

The new Department of Ecology (Ecology) grant funding rules, which are expected to go into effect in September 2014, will change the way grant recipients resolve contribution claims against other liable parties under the...more

How Much Deference Do States Get in Entering CERCLA Consent Decrees? Probably A Lot, But Perhaps Not As Much as You Thought

In Cannons Engineering, the First Circuit Court of Appeals famously stated that, when CERCLA consent decrees arrive at the courts of appeal for review, they do so “encased in a double layer of swaddling,” because both the EPA...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

Environmental Claims: Twenty Years Later

A Chapter 11 debtor moved to reopen its bankruptcy case more than 15 years after it was closed in order to enforce the plan confirmation order to prevent claims by a state environmental agency and other potentially...more

New Jersey Supreme Court Allows Early Contribution Claims Under the Spill Act

Parties sued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (“DEP”) for remediation now have an immediate right to seek contribution from other potentially responsible parties. Following last week’s unanimous ruling...more

Environmental Due Diligence: A Practical Guide to Environmental Site Assessments Part 2

If after a Phase I ESA, the EP determines further investigation is warranted, that more invasive investigation takes the form of a Phase II ESA. The primary purpose in conducting a Phase II ESA is to evaluate any REC(s)...more

Fourth Circuit Affirms Liability for Selenium Discharges - Rejects Permit Shield Defense

By a published decision released on July 11, 2014, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a district court decision out of the Western District of Virginia finding that A & G Coal Corporation (“A & G”)...more

Texas Supreme Court Holds That Requirement to Provide Evidence of Approximate Dose Applies to Mesothelioma Cases as Well as...

On July 12, 2014, in Bostic v. Georgia Pacific Corp., No. 10-0775, a six-justice majority of the Texas Supreme Court issued a major decision on causation in asbestos cases. The Court held that the requirement to provide...more

Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil

In 2006, Morristown Associates filed a suit against multiple heating companies and the previous owners of a dry cleaning business to seek payment for the costs they incurred redeveloping the property. They cited the source...more

Settling Parties In Government Consent Orders Have CERCLA Claims For Contribution Not Cost Recovery

To the extent there was any remaining uncertainty, the Sixth Circuit has now made crystalline that a party settling some or all of its liability under CERCLA with the United States or a state has a contribution claim under...more

Oregon’s Statute of Repose May Block Common Law Environmental Claims

Oregon’s 10-year statute of repose may now play a bigger role in environmental lawsuits in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA),...more

Environmental Alert: "Texas Supreme Court Clarifies Causation Standard in Multiple Source Toxic Tort Cases"

The Texas Supreme Court took what appears to be a middle ground in toxic tort cases involving exposure to the same substance from multiple sources. The Court rejected the “but for” standard advocated by the defendant, but...more

Court Denies Renewed Attempt To Dismiss Defenses In Reinsurance Dispute Associated With Asbestos-Related Liabilities

In this case, plaintiffs sought leave to renew their motion to dismiss certain retention-related and assignment affirmative defenses based on provisions of certain Loss Portfolio Transfer (LPT) agreements, and to re-argue the...more

The Clean Water Act - Is groundwater included?

There has been much controversy in the courts as to whether groundwater can be defined as “navigable waters” under the Clean Water Act. Courts are split on this decision, with equal numbers of rulings on both sides. One...more

Texas Supreme Court opinions (7/14)

1. No. 10-0775, Bostic v. Georgia-Pacific Corp. -- This is a mesothelioma case. The overarching issue is whether the causation standard announced in Borg-Warner Corp. v. Flores (which was an asbestosis case) also applies to...more

EPA Issues Proposed Rule to Significantly Reduce Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Summer has kicked off with a regulatory push by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This alert briefly addresses two recent EPA rulemakings....more

Chemical Safety Board investigator outlines discoveries from West Fertilizer, Charleston water incidents

A fertilizer plant surrounded by homes, schools, and a hospital. A chemical tank that was externally examined but not drained of liquid for a more thorough inspection. These were some of the factors that contributed to two...more

Cornell Ruling Is Cause for Experts’ Concern

I recently co-authored an article for Law360 entitled “Cornell Ruling Is Cause for Experts’ Concern,” which covered the ruling by the New York Court of Appeals in Cornell v. 360 West 51st St. Realty, LLC (2014 NY Slip Op...more

Pa. Superior Court Confirms Statutory Right of Repose for Improvements to Real Estate in Asbestos Cases

The Pennsylvania Superior Court reversed a jury verdict in favor of plaintiffs in an asbestos mesothelioma case, finding that the 12-year statute of repose bars all claims related to improvements constructed on real estate...more

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