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Showing 4 posts in Sixth Circuit.

Yesterday in two parallel class action interlocutory appeals, the Sixth Circuit joined the Third Circuit in holding that the Clean Air Act does not preempt state common law tort claims related to air pollution.  The first case, Merrick v. Diageo Americas Supply, Inc., involved excess ethanol emissions from Johnny Walker and J&B brand whiskey distilleries located in Louisville, Kentucky that allegedly caused the growth of a specific type of mold on neighboring properties.  The proposed class of local property owners asserted claims for negligence, nuisance, trespass, and injunctive relief, relying on violations of a local ordinance that prohibited air pollution which caused “injury, detriment, nuisance, or annoyance to any considerable number of persons or to the public.”  The second case, Little v. Louisville Gas & Electric Co., involved dust and coal ash emissions from a coal-fired power plant which effected local residents, and which were the subject of multiple notices of violation issued to the power company.  The class action claims in Little included claims for violations of the federal Clean Air Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, as well as state common law claims for nuisance, trespass, negligence, negligence per se, and gross negligence.  In both cases, United States District Court for the Western District of Kentucky allowed the common law claims to survive defendants’ motions to dismiss, ruling that the common law claims were not preempted by the federal Clean Air Act.   Read More »

Back in July of last year, in the case of Hobart Corp. v. Waste Management of Ohio, 758 F.3d 757 (6th Cir. 2014), held that the statute of limitations for a contribution action following the execution of an Administrative Settlement Agreement and Order on Consent (“AOC”) that settles an entity’s liability to the government begins to run as of the effective date of the AOC.  To the extent that anyone might have thought that the Sixth Circuit would reconsider this holding, those hopes have been dashed.  On January 24, 2015, in LWD PRP Group v. Alcan Corp., ___ F.3d ___ (6th Cir. 2015), the Sixth Circuit stood fast, finding that it lacked “power to reverse [Hobart,] reversing the district court’s denial of a motion to dismiss certain counterclaims. Read More »

Last Friday, the Sixth Circuit upheld a $250,000 sanction award levied against the attorneys representing a large group of plaintiffs in an Ohio federal environmental contamination suit, on the basis that plaintiffs’ medical monitoring claims were objectively unreasonable.   The case – Baker et al. v. Chevron U.S.A., Inc. et al., Nos. 11-4369, 12-3995 (6th Cir., Aug. 2, 2013) – was on appeal from the Southern District of Ohio, which had granted Chevron’s motion for sanctions after plaintiffs had failed to meet the legal and factual burdens for establishing a medical monitoring claim under Ohio law.  Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 11 (“Rule 11”) provides litigants with a mechanism to attack claims that are “not well grounded in fact . . . [and/or] not warranted by existing law or a good faith argument for extension, modification, or reversal of existing law.”  Generally, Rule 11 sanctions are limited to those circumstances where an attorney’s conduct was unreasonable under the circumstances.  Read More »

On May 25, 2012, the Sixth Circuit rendered its decision in Sierra Club v. Korleski, No. 10-3269 (6th Cir. May 25, 2012), holding that there is no private right of action under Section 7604 of the  Clean Air Act (“CAA”), 42 U.S.C. § 7604, to compel a state to enforce its own State Implementation Plan (“SIP”) of the national air quality standards.  In doing so, it effectively overruled its own precedent, relying on an intervening Supreme Court decision which found no similar private right of action under the Endangered Species Act (“ESA”). Read More »