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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Last Product Liability Claims Dismissed in Massachusetts PCB Suit

In a win for manufacturers of products containing PCBs, a Massachusetts federal court dismissed the last few PCB-related product liability claims in a sprawling case brought by a local school because injuries related to caulking made with PCB-containing plasticizers were not reasonably foreseeable when the caulk was first used.  See Town of Westport v. Monsanto Co., No. 14-12041 (D. Mass. Apr. 7, 2017). Read More ›

Pennsylvania Federal Court Applies Expanded “Take-Home” Toxic Tort Liability

A Pennsylvania federal court applied a New Jersey Supreme Court opinion expanding the scope of potential workplace-exposure liability and allowed a beryllium exposure case to move forward. Schwartz v. Accuratus Corp., No. 12-cv-06189 (E.D. Pa. March 30, 2017).  As previously reported, the New Jersey Supreme Court held that an employer may be liable for toxic exposures not just to the spouse of an employee, but potentially to people with more attenuated relationships as well.  Under some circumstances, the so-called “take-home” liability of an employer may extend to people with whom an employee may live with or interact with regularly. Read More ›

Fifth Circuit: Louisiana’s Subsequent Purchaser Doctrine Bars Claims for Damage to Real Property

In a case that may have implications at contaminated former oil and gas production sites across Louisiana, the Fifth Circuit applied Louisiana’s “subsequent purchaser doctrine” and affirmed the dismissal of a landowner’s property damage claims stemming from a decades-old oil and gas operation.  See Guilbeau v. Hess Corp., No. 16-30971 (5th Cir. Apr. 18, 2017).  Although the Fifth Circuit acknowledged the Louisiana Supreme Court had not directly addressed the issue, the court held that a Louisiana property owner without assignment or subrogation of rights held by previous landowners cannot sue a third-party lessee of mineral rights for damages inflicted on the property before the current property owner purchased the property.  Read More ›

Pennsylvania Federal Court Vacates Jury Award, Orders New Trial in Tort Lawsuit Against Natural Gas Producer

Illustrating the importance of expert testimony in establishing a factual basis for private nuisance claims and damages in tort actions, a Pennsylvania federal judge vacated a $4.24 million jury verdict and granted a new trial in a case about alleged contamination from natural gas production operations. See Ely v. Cabot Oil & Gas Corp., Civil No. 3:09-CV-2284 (M.D. Pa. Mar. 31, 2017) Read More ›

Kentucky Appeals Court Outlines Limitations on Stigma Damages

Illustrating the limitations on so-called “stigma” damages under Kentucky law, Kentucky appellate court ruled that a claim for stigma damages is not an independent cause of action, and that such damages are not available in addition to the cost to remediate a contaminated property. See Muncie v. Weiseman, 2015-CA-001788-MR (Ky. Ct. App. April 21, 2017).   Read More ›

North Carolina Legislature Limits Nuisance Lawsuits, Reducing Potential Liability for Hog Farming Industry

Overriding a gubernatorial veto, on May 11 the North Carolina legislature significantly limited the liability of hog farms in any future nuisance lawsuits. See 2017 N.C. Sess. Laws 11. The new law caps the compensatory damages that may be awarded to a plaintiff bringing a private nuisance action to either the reduction in fair market value of a property, if the nuisance is permanent, or to the diminution of the property’s fair rental value, if the nuisance is temporary. Read More ›

Texas Supreme Court Upholds $22.7M Award in Gas Production Contamination Case

Holding that the Texas Railroad Commission’s statutory authority to regulate contamination from oil and gas operations does not preclude private suits for damages, the Texas Supreme Court upheld a $22.7 million award in a suit alleging contamination from natural gas production.  Forest Oil Corp. v. El Rucio Land & Cattle Co., 518 S.W.3d 422 (Tex. 2017).  Read More ›

New York Municipality Not Immune in Negligent Lead Abatement Suit

Illustrating the limits on the governmental immunity defense, a New York appeals court denied summary judgment to the City of Buffalo and City of Buffalo Urban Renewal Agency in a lead paint abatement negligence suit.  See Moore v. Del-Rich Properties, Inc., No. 16-02130, 2017 WL 2604503 (N.Y. App. Div. June 16, 2017). Read More ›

Iowa Supreme Court Upholds Class Certification in Corn Mill Nuisance Suit

Endorsing a degree of flexibility in devising classes in nuisance suits, the Iowa Supreme Court permitted the certification of a two-tier class action in a nuisance suit filed against the owner of a corn milling plant by nearby residents.  See Freeman v. Grain Processing Corp., 895 N.W.2d 105 (Iowa 2017).  Read More ›

Washington Supreme Court Holds that Prior Negligence May Trigger Insurance Coverage Notwithstanding Pollution Exclusion

In a ruling highlighting the limits of ubiquitous pollution exclusion clauses in property insurance policies, the Washington Supreme Court held that an insurer had a duty to defend a claim where the insured’s prior negligence led to pollution, notwithstanding a pollution exclusion clause.  See Xia v. ProBuilders Specialty Ins. Co, 393 P.3d 748 (Wash. 2017).  Read More ›