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Showing 63 posts by Graham C. Zorn.

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 ›

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 ›

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 ›

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 ›

Illinois Appellate Court Allows Rare “Prospective Nuisance” Claim to Proceed Against Mining Facility

Addressing the relatively uncommon “prospective nuisance” claim, an Illinois appeals court found a group of landowners pleaded sufficient facts to show that a new sand mining operation would result in a nuisance if constructed. See Whipple v. Vill. of N. Utica, 3-15-0547 (Ill. App. Ct., Mar. 9, 2017). The court reversed the trial court’s decision and found that the landowners could proceed with a claim to enjoin construction of the facility Read More ›

Federal Court Dismisses Some of Seattle’s PCB Tort Claims

In a blow to the efforts of municipal plaintiffs to pursue environmental damages through product liability theories, a Washington federal court granted Monsanto’s motion to dismiss Seattle’s design defect and failure to warn claims for damages to the city’s waterways and lands caused by polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). See City of Seattle v. Monsanto Co., 16-cv-00107 (W.D. Wash. Feb. 22, 2017). The court, however, allowed the city’s negligence and public nuisance claims to proceed. Read More ›

New Developments and Uncertainties for Conflict Minerals Disclosure

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC or Commission) Division of Corporate Finance issued a new statement adding some uncertainty to company obligations and enforcement exposure under the SEC conflict minerals rule ahead of the May 31, 2017 filing deadline.  The statement is one of several moving pieces in an unprecedented wave of activity on conflict minerals in recent weeks.  Companies should review these developments and their approach to meeting legal obligations imposed by the SEC’s implementation of Section 1502 of Dodd Frank, alongside the broader expectations of customers, activists and investors. Read More ›

SEC Conflict Minerals Rule Faces New Scrutiny Ahead of May Filing Deadline

A flurry of activity on conflict minerals in recent weeks has added new uncertainty to the long-simmering debate over the future of U.S. conflict minerals reporting requirements. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) announced plans to reconsider its 2012 rule implementing Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act and requested public comments on all aspects of the rule.  President Donald Trump is reportedly considering a Presidential memorandum that could waive the SEC conflict minerals rule for up to two years based on national security interests. In what may be a step toward considering new approaches to addressing the responsible sourcing of minerals in the region, the State Department issued a broad request for stakeholder input to inform “recommendations.”  Read More ›

California Court Blocks Local Measure Banning Ground Application of Biosolids

In a victory for municipalities that recycle biosolids to farmland, Los Angeles’ sanitation district prevailed in its suit against a Kern County initiative banning land application of biosolids. See County Sanitation Dist. No. 2 of Los Angeles County, et al. v. Kern County, 2016 WL 7175653 (Tulare Co. Super. Ct. Nov. 28, 2016).  Defendant Kern County approved Measure E on June 6, 2006, prohibiting the land application of biosolids (treated municipal wastewater sludge) in unincorporated Kern County.  After a two-week bench trial, the Superior Court for Tulare County invalidated Kern County's ban on the grounds that the county had exceeded its police power and the ban was preempted by state law. Read More ›