Toxic Torts Updates

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Missouri Federal Court Cuts Claims in Pipeline Property Damage Action

Underscoring the need for plaintiffs to show concrete proof of harm in suits alleging property damage, a federal district court dismissed a suit alleging that an oil pipeline contaminated farmland in Missouri. See Henke v....more

Federal Court Holds That “Each and Every Exposure” Theory is Inadmissible

The “single fiber” theory, well known to asbestos litigants and practitioners, is an attempt to circumvent “substantial factor” causation requirements, positing that any exposure to asbestos constitutes an underlying cause of...more

U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania Dismisses Majority of Water Well Contamination Claims Against Oil Drilling Company

Earlier this month, U.S. District Judge John E. Jones III in the Middle District of Pennsylvania completely adopted the “extremely thorough, well-reasoned” recommendations of a U.S. Magistrate Judge and dismissed almost all...more

Eleventh Circuit Reinstates Groundwater Contamination Case Dismissed on Lone Pine Order

In a case that may provide some plaintiffs with protection from early Lone Pine orders, the Eleventh Circuit reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a groundwater contamination case for failure to sufficiently state claims...more

North Carolina’s Amended Repose Law Fails to Save Barred Toxic Tort Claim

Notwithstanding the intent of the North Carolina legislature, a federal court ruled that the state’s recently amended law exempting groundwater contamination suits from a 10-year statute of repose did not save a latent toxic...more

New York Federal Court Finds that CERCLA’s Petroleum Exclusion Covers Benzene Derived from Gasoline Degradation

In White Plains Housing Authority v. Getty Properties Corp., No. 13-cv-6282, 2014 WL 7183991 (S.D.N.Y. Dec. 16, 2014), the district court applied the petroleum exclusion of the Comprehensive Environmental Response,...more

Arkansas Federal Court Denies Class Certification in Property Damage Suit

Exemplifying the reluctance of many courts to allow toxic tort cases to proceed as class actions, a federal judge in Arkansas denied certification of a putative class of neighboring landowners who claimed the Defendant’s...more

Federal Judge Strikes Class Allegations Pre-Certification and Discovery

Too many times a defendant is forced to foot the bill for costly discovery and motion practice before being able to successfully challenge class allegations. The recent decision in Bell v. Cheswick Generating Station, et al.,...more

Fifth Circuit Relieves Company of "Arranger" Liability under CERCLA

In Vine Street LLC v. Borg Warner Corp., No. 07-40440, the Fifth Circuit held that, in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Burlington Northern & Santa Fe Railway Co. v. United States, 556 U.S. 599 (2009), BorgWarner...more

Virginia Court Nixes Claim Chinese Drywall Damage to HVAC Systems is Covered as Equipment Breakdown

In Travco Ins. Co. v. Ward, 284 Va. 547, 736 S.E.2d 321 (2012), the Virginia Supreme Court held that loss occasioned by the sulfuric gas released by defective Chinese drywall was excluded under the primary coverage grant of a...more

New Jersey Supreme Court Rules No Time Bar for Spill Act Contribution Claims

In a unanimous decision on January 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of New Jersey, in Morristown Associates v. Grant Oil Co., overturned two lower-court decisions and held that the six-year statute of limitations for damage to...more

No Diagnosis, No "Damages": Wisconsin's Construction Statute of Repose in Asbestos Cases

How to apply Wisconsin’s construction statute of repose, Wis. Stat. § 893.89, in asbestos cases has recently been a hot topic dividing trial courts. The statute bars a broad category of claims if they are brought more than 10...more

DRM client wins important case precluding termination of insurer insolvency before contingent or unliquidated claims can be...

The Vermont Supreme Court has ruled in In Re Ambassador Ins. Co., 2015 VT 4 (Vt. Jan. 23, 2015) that the liquidator of Ambassador Insurance acted unreasonably in setting a December 31, 2013 bar date for policyholder claims...more

Case Settled! New Jersey Supreme Court Says No Time Limits to Spill Act Contribution Claims

Action Item: Defendants can no longer assert a statute of limitations defense to claims of contribution under the New Jersey Spill Compensation and Control Act, N.J.S.A. 58:10-23.11, et seq. (“Spill Act”). ...more

Recent Cases on Clean Air Act Preemption of Common Law Torts Upend Conventional Wisdom

Two recent appellate-level decisions allowing state common law tort claims against an intrastate emitting source to avoid Clean Air Act (CAA) preemption have surprised many CAA litigators. The outcome in both Bell v....more

Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation: District Court Finds Expert Proof Insufficient to Prove Causation (1/15)

Causation is often the biggest hurdle a plaintiff must clear in proving a toxic tort case. For that reason, it would be expedient if a plaintiff could get to trial on the issue of causation merely by showing that...more

The Need For Expert Evidence To Make Out An Innocent Landowner Defense Under CERCLA

As every litigator knows, evidence almost always tells a story that is untidy and riddled with loose ends. This was illustrated by a recent innocent landowner case in California — Coppola v. Smith. There, a company had...more

The Ohio Supreme Court Misses a Supreme Opportunity to Comment on “All Sums”

The long-awaited decision from the Supreme Court of Ohio in Lincoln Electric Co. v. Travelers Casualty & Surety Co., et al., No. 2013-1088, will not be forthcoming. The Court would have addressed the issue of whether a...more

Energy & Environment Update - January 2015 #2

In This Issue: - Energy and Climate Debate - Congress - Administration - Department of Commerce - Department of Energy - Department of Treasury - Environmental Protection...more

RCRA Definition of Solid Waste Final Rule Published in Federal Register, and Other Recent RCRA Developments

RCRA Definition Of Solid Waste Final Rule Published In Federal Register: On January 13, 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published its final rule revising the Definition of Solid Waste (DSW) under the...more

EPA Seeks Additional Comment on NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule, and Other Recent CWA Developments

EPA Seeks Additional Comment On NPDES Electronic Reporting Rule: On December 1, 2014, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested additional comment on the proposed National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System...more

The Strategy of Lone Pine Orders: Timing Matters

Federal and state courts are using Lone Pine orders to effectively manage and control mass tort cases and other complex litigation. A Lone Pine order is a case management order that requires all plaintiffs to furnish...more

Federal District Court Ruling in Fukushima Daiichi Case Has Implications for Global Nuclear Liability Management

A recent ruling in Cooper v. Tokyo Electric Power Company, No. 12-CV-3032, S.D. Cal., Oct. 28, 2014, one of three lawsuits filed in the United States related to the 2011 incident at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant,...more

Falling Oil Prices Ignite Concern Over Bakken Crude

Happy Days Are Here Again? Gasoline prices have been falling steadily for months. Now a gallon may be purchased for substantially less than three dollars in many regions of the country. ...more

Media Reports on 2014 "Fracking" Verdicts Miss the Real Story: Scientific Study Continues to Demonstrate the Safety of...

In April 2014, press reports widely suggested that a Dallas, Texas case was the first large verdict awarded on the basis of environmental damages sustained due to fracking. One advocacy journalism website's description of the...more

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