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Reversing nearly all of the $1.6 billion in jury verdicts that had been entered against Defendant Exxon Mobil Corporation by lower courts, the Maryland Court of Appeals on February 26, 2013, issued a pair of opinions that may make recovery of damages more difficult for Maryland plaintiffs in toxic exposure cases.
Approximately six weeks after getting the Maryland Supreme Court to agree that nearly all of the $1.6 billion in damages awarded by lower courts should be overturned, Exxon Mobil Corporation found itself facing a new toxic tort jury award, this one in favor of the State of New Hampshire in the amount of $236 million.
In a significant victory for Defendant D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (“D.C. Water”), which is represented in the action by Beveridge & Diamond, the Superior Court of the District of Columbia denied Plaintiffs’ motion for class certification in a putative class action relating to claims of injuries due to lead allegedly found in drinking water in the city.
In a setback to plaintiffs seeking to get a tactical advantage by litigating in state court, the Supreme Court held that potential class action plaintiffs cannot cap their damages in an effort to avoid the reach of the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”).
In a limited but significant victory for class action plaintiffs, a federal court in Indiana granted class certification to 1,700 Indiana residents with respect to only the liability portion of their claims against the owners of a wood recycling facility based on alleged exposure to smoke, dust and “extreme noxious odors.”
Establishing important precedent that right to farm laws, which have been adopted in most states, have broad application to many farm activities and shield farmers and their suppliers from tort suits, a Pennsylvania court found that defendants’ land application of biosolids did not constitute a nuisance or negligence under state law.
Adding to the growing chorus of courts that have rejected the “every exposure” theory (sometimes referred to as the “any exposure” theory), under which plaintiffs argue that each and every exposure to a toxic substance is sufficient to establish liability for certain injuries, a federal court in Utah dismissed a plaintiff’s claims for failing to establish causation.
Distinguishing the recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s decision in Betz v. Pneumo Abex LLC , 44 A.3d 27 (Pa. May 31, 2012), which rejected the “every exposure” theory to prove causation, a Pennsylvania appellate court upheld a nearly $1 million judgment in an asbestos injury case against a welding products company.
Striking a blow to plaintiffs seeking damages for cleanups down to “background” levels, the United States District Court for the Southern District of California dismissed an action by the State of California and the City of San Diego seeking damages due to soil and groundwater contamination on city-owned land around and under the San Diego Qualcomm Stadium.
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