Environmental Law Portal

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Beveridge & Diamond’s 100 lawyers in seven U.S. offices focus on environmental and natural resource law, litigation and dispute resolution. We help clients around the world resolve critical environmental and sustainability issues relating to their products, facilities, and operations. 

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Property Ownership and Water Supply Sources Matter in PFOA Contamination Lawsuits

Illustrating some limitations on common law claims for groundwater contamination, a federal court in New York partially granted and partially denied a motion to dismiss in a cluster of sixteen lawsuits alleging perfluoroocatanoic acid (PFOA) contamination in a village’s groundwater.  Benoit v. Saint-Gobain Performance Plastics Corp., No. 16-cv-930, 2017 WL 3316132 (N.D.N.Y. Aug. 2, 2017).  The opinion showed how certain intricate issues such as property ownership and source of water supply can alter the outcome of a tort claim even at the pleading stage.  The order was certified for interlocutory appeal to the Second Circuit. Read More ›

Washington State’s Suit Against Monsanto Remanded to State Court

Clarifying the application of a doctrine called “federal officer jurisdiction,” a federal judge in Washington held that the federal government’s actions involving procurement of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) from Monsanto were not enough to show that Monsanto was supervised or influenced by the government. See Washington v. Monsanto Co., No C17-53RSL (W.D. Wash. July 28, 2018). Washington originally brought suit against Monsanto in December 2016 alleging statewide PCB contamination under state product liability theories. Monsanto removed the suit to federal court asserting federal question jurisdiction and federal officer jurisdiction, which can be invoked by a private party if it is “sued for acts performed while acting under a federal agency or officer.” Read More ›

PCB Nuisance Suits from Three California Cities Stayed Pending Administrative Decision

Showing how administrative claims can derail coexistent judicial actions, a federal court in California asked three California cities to first exhaust their administrative claims seeking state compensation for the cities’ treatment of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in stormwater discharge before they can sue Monsanto Co. in court for tort damages.  San Jose v. Monsanto Co., No. 5:15-cv-03178 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 4, 2017).  The court will freeze the cities’ tort actions against Monsanto until February 8, 2018, when the state agency will have a chance to hear the cities’ administrative claims. These claims seek state reimbursement for complying with PCB discharge standards that the state made more stringent in 2015 without providing funding assistance. Read More ›

District Court Permits Landowner to Pursue Hazardous Material Dumping Case Against the U.S. Navy

Illustrating what constitutes sufficient notice to the government of the value of a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA), a Maryland federal court rejected the Navy’s claim that it had insufficient notice of the value of a claim stemming from environmental contamination. Baker v. United States, No. MJG-17-546 (D.Md Aug. 9, 2017). Instead, the court held that the Navy had sufficient notice of the total value of the landowner’s administrative claims. Read More ›

Insured Survives Summary Judgment Motion on Three Pollution Exclusion Exceptions

Illustrating how an insured can counter the insurer’s pollution exclusion arguments in coverage disputes, a federal court in Illinois held that an insured chemical company succeeded in raising genuine issues of material fact on three alleged exceptions to a pollution exclusion provision in an insurance policy.  The court denied the insurer’s summary judgment motion in the insurance defense and indemnity case arising from numerous underlying environmental and personal injury claims against the insured party.  Velsicol Chemical, LLC. v. Westchester Fire Ins. Co., No. 15-CV-2534 (N.D. Ill. Sept. 7, 2017). Read More ›

Federal Court in California Greenlights Discovery After Sufficient Lone Pine Submissions

In a case demonstrating the limits of a Lone Pine strategy, a California federal court allowed a toxic tort class action to proceed after plaintiffs’ experts showed that “Plaintiffs’ case is not meritless or frivolous.” The court therefore declined to dismiss the case and instructed the parties to proceed into discovery.  See Trujillo v. Ametek, Inc., Case No. 3:15-cv-01394 (S.D. Cal. July 17, 2017).    Read More ›

Ohio Natural Resources Damages Claim Dismissed with Prejudice for Failure to Properly Serve Defendant

Demonstrating the importance of timely service of process in complex environmental cases, a federal court in Ohio dismissed CERCLA natural resource damages claims and related state statutory actions for the state’s failure to serve a complaint on an individual defendant for nearly two years. Ohio, ex rel. DeWine v. Superior Fibers, Inc., No: 2:14-cv-1843 (S.D. OH June 29, 2017). Read More ›

Sixth Circuit Holds Safe Drinking Water Act Does Not Preempt Constitutional Claims

The Sixth Circuit revived previously dismissed claims in the Flint water cases, clarifying where the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) does not preempt § 1983 claims. Boler v. Earley, No. 16-1684 (6th Cir. July 28, 2017). Previously dismissed as preempted under the SDWA, the plaintiffs’ constitutional claims were found to be distinct from statutory rights, which might have been preempted by the SDWA. Read More ›

Mississippi Federal Court Denies Preliminary Injunction for Failure to Show Threat of Irreparable Harm

In a case demonstrating limits to injunctive relief, in the environmental context a Mississippi federal court denied a request for a temporary restraining order because the plaintiff did not show he would suffer irreparable harm when he relied on conclusory statements about the harm he faced, nor did he show that monetary damages could not make him sufficiently whole.  Miller v. Mississippi Resources, LLC, No. 5:17-cv-41-DCB-MTP (S.D. Miss. June 26, 2017).  Read More ›

Massachusetts Permitting Goes Online

Finally catching up with many states that have made it possible to apply for and review permits online, Massachusetts’ Energy and Environmental Information Public Access System (EIPAS) went online last month, promising to usher in a new era of improved accessibility to the permitting process, while still exhibiting growing pains and limitations.  Read More ›