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OCTOBER 2017

By Beth Bauer, HeplerBroom LLC

 

Hi Friends,

 

Autumn has arrived, and I am thrilled!  All things scented or flavored with pumpkin and cinnamon are available everywhere.  And, it’s almost time to Trick-or-Treat!  I love the tradition of dressing up to beg for candy although now I just live out the Halloween fun through my kids.  I have a new fall tradition – attendance at the FDCC Corporate Counsel Symposium.  I recently attended this meeting for the first time.  No tricks:  It was all treats.  This seminar offered outstanding CLE, a client-rich atmosphere for networking, and time with good FDCC friends.  Here are some of my top take aways from the presentations at the seminar: 

 

1.      Natural disasters and man-made disasters, such as cyberattacks, are absolutely crippling for the businesses affected, including law firms. Planning for these events is critical to business continuity, protecting our clients’ information and interests, and providing for our employees.  Find ways to be resilient by understating the risks your firm may face due to your geographic location as well as trends for manmade risks.  One tool to help you is the Lloyds’s City Risk Index, which can be found here:  https://www.lloyds.com/cityriskindex/

 

2.     When making a pitch to get business from in-house counsel, demonstrate that you and your law firm understand the principles of running a business and operate in a business-minded way.  For example, propose alternatives to the hourly rate billing arrangement, understand the client’s business, know their competitors, and appreciate the pressures of the client’s business, such as price erosion year after year.

 

3.     Workplace violence is on the rise and so are lawsuits that allege an employer is liable for failing to prevent it.  How can your law firm protect itself from such liability?  Develop a policy that describes workplace violence and how employees can report it.  Conduct training of employees on workplace violence and how they should respond.  Have local law enforcement do a facility assessment to identify how to make the workplace safer with locks, lighting, exit routes, etc.  If you have clients that are part of the national critical infrastructure, the FBI and other governmental agencies will also help them with safety assessments, advice, and training.  Demonstrating layer upon layer of proactive conduct to educate and train employees regarding workplace violence may help avoid liability for these occurrences.

 

4.     Diversity in the first chair matters.  In-house counsel value diversity in our law firms, but also want to see law firms do more to help women and minorities become equipped to take on first-chair trial responsibility for a variety of reasons.  One of the chief reasons is that clients want trial teams to reflect the diversity of the jury pool where they face a lawsuit.  They suggest that law firms be intentional about training and providing opportunities to women and minorities to acquire the skills necessary to take on the role of lead trial lawyer, and make clients aware of those initiatives. 

 

In other news, here are some notes of interest from the FDCC Project and Objectives Committee Meeting, held last month.  Be alert to new and improved opportunities to network and market through FDCC’s refreshed LinkedIn page, coming soon.  Did you know that FDCC has a YouTube channel?  Watch for an invitation to subscribe to the channel.  You can share content from CLE presentations and other material posted there with your clients, others in your firm, and those interested in membership in FDCC.  Be sure to check out FDCCEvolve.com.  There are developments coming related to FDCCEvolve to ensure that FDCC members can market themselves as the most tech savvy lawyers.  Scott Kreamer, the other officers, and the Board have many more exciting things to come this year that will increase the value you receive from FDCC membership. 

 

Finally, Paul Knobbe with Goldberg Segalla has written our section’s blog for this quarter.  It is a helpful and quick primer on the latest developments on personal jurisdiction jurisprudence and how those principles apply to toxic tort cases.  If you are relying on what you learned in your Civ Pro class, you need to read Paul’s blog post, which is available by clicking here.


 

SEPTEMBER 2017

 

Happy Fall!  The leaves are slowly starting to change color, daytime humidity is gone, and evenings are cool and perfect for roasting marshmallows at the fire pit. I grew up on a farm in central Illinois and love to see the corn and soybean crops turn from deep green to seas of gold ripe for harvest.  Farmers input time, effort, fertilizer, pest and weed repellants, often prayer, and other work to maximize the return on investment.  And generally, they reap far more than they sow.  For example, each corn plant grows from a single seed, yet yields up to three large ears of corn per plant.  That is good return on investment! 

Likewise, if we all put effort into FDCC activities, it can yield big returns, such as new business, professional development and great friends.  Currently, FDCC planning is in full swing, so it is the perfect time to assess what your contribution to FDCC will be for 2017-2018.  Your Toxic Tort and Environmental Section needs your effort.  The below is a list of ways you can plug in that will not require a large amount of your time.  Please contact me at bab@heplerbroom.com to volunteer for a specific item on the list:

  • Monthly newsletter update—content for one month only (Very flexible format and not time intensive.)
  • Blog post (Re-publish some timely and informative posts from your firm’s blog.)
  • Insights article (Not due until July 2018 – plenty of time to plan and execute!)
  • New member outreach (You just need to be friendly.)
  • Candidates for membership (You will not be working on this alone).
  • Spearhead Annual Meeting Programming (Topic has been chosen, which is like 90% of the work needed.)

I am really looking forward to hearing from you.  At the end of the 2017-2018 FDCC season, we will have reaped great rewards from our membership. 

Exchange of Ideas

The United States has suffered two major hurricanes within the past month, which have caused tremendous damage in Texas, Florida, and other southern states.  As I write this, Irma is just making landfall.  While we hope and pray for the safety of friends and loved ones and help with recovery any way we can, my mind also naturally turns to the legal issues associated with such catastrophic events.  We all represent clients that will be touched by these storms – energy, transportation, and construction industries, as well as insurance companies come immediately to mind.  What are you doing to help your clients through the aftermath of these storms?  Please share your experiences with me for next month’s newsletter.  The first three people to send me their thoughts and ideas will receive a gift. 

Upcoming Events

I am attending the CCS in Philadelphia September 17-19 and I hope to see you there. 

There are deposition boot camps this fall, so check the website for dates and send your associates for the best training by the best lawyers.

Mark your calendars for the Winter Meeting in Amelia Island, February 24-28, 2018.  This meeting is designed with our corporate and industry members in mind, with programming specific to their interests and complimentary registration.  Invite a client to attend with you that may be interested in FDCC membership.

 

 

AUGUST 2017

 

At the Annual Meeting in Montreux, there was a joint presentation by the Energy Utilities Law and Toxic Tort and Environmental Law sections. This of course was in the toughest time slot, being 7:45 a.m. on the last day of the meeting and following many late nights.  The meeting was well attended and speakers G. Bruce Parkerson, J. Richard Caldwell Jr., and Michael J. O’Connor didn’t  disappoint those that got up to make the meeting. The presentation dealt with the aftermath of the gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, California in September 2010, which resulted in 8 deaths and millions of dollars of property damage.  Pacific Gas and Electric was defending hundreds of civil lawsuits while at the same time being subject to investigation by both state and federal regulatory agencies.  Federal criminal charges were also brought against the company, which resulted in criminal convictions.  All of the presenters spoke in practical terms of the strategic decisions that have to be made by the company that would have direct impact on all areas of the legal defense. Issues such as cooperation with the prosecution and sacrificing of the well- being of employees, the relationship between the in-house counsel and outside counsel were all discussed.  The paper that was written and provided as one of the meeting materials makes for a good resource for those dealing with issues of defending in a situation of multiple legal fronts. On behalf of the sections, I would like to thank the presenters for the time in writing the paper and presenting on a very interesting and challenging situation for defense lawyers.

 

Be sure to contact Section Chair Beth Bauer at bab@heplerbroom.com to volunteer to provide content for our monthly newsletter, blog posts, and Insights columns.  Additionally, if you are friendly and would like to be on a team to reach out to new members that express an interest in the TTEL section, please contact Beth.  If you enjoy coordinating social events, please volunteer to organize a social event at one of the upcoming meetings that our section members attend sponsored by sister organizations, such as DRI, or other bar associations, such as the ABA.  Again, contact Beth to volunteer.

 

We will be together again at the Winter Meeting in Amelia Island in late February, so block the time on your calendar to join us in that beautiful location.  In the meantime, FDCC offers several programs to add value to your membership for you and others in your firm.  For example, the webinar series is kicking off in September and FDCC deposition boot camps are gearing up for the fall.  Also this fall, we hope to see you at the Corporate Counsel Symposium in Philadelphia in September or at the I-3 in New York in November. 

  

 

JULY 2017

 

Upcoming Events:

We are about to close out another Federation year with the Annual Meeting in fabulous Montreux, Switzerland.  Please plan to attend our CLE program presented with the Energy and Utilities Law Section on July 28 at 7:45 a.m., titled “Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts.” The presentation will analyze aspects of the aftermath of the gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9, 2010, which resulted in 8 deaths, multiple injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims while undergoing intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal levels. Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation will explore the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in others.  The speakers are G. Bruce Parkerson, Plauche Maselli Parkerson, LLP, New Orleans, LA; J. Richard Caldwell, Jr., Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, Tampa, FL; and Michael  J. O’Connor, Associate General Manager and Chief Legal Executive Law & Human Resources, Salt River Project, Phoenix, AZ.  The presenters have worked very hard, and I know you will learn something that you can share with a current or potential new client.

 

Recent Toxic Tort and Environmental Developments:          

The DC Circuit has at least temporarily thwarted the Trump administration’s efforts to ease some of the regulatory pressure on your oil and gas industry clients related to methane emissions.  For more information that you can share with your clients, please see the blog post titled, “Delay in Implementing Obama-Era Environmental Rule Found Improper,” explaining the court’s ruling in  Clean Air Council v. Pruitt, ___ F.3d ___, 2017 WL 2838112 (D.C. Cir. July 3, 2017), written by HeplerBroom LLC partner Michael Murphy. 


Looking Back and Planning Ahead:       

Thank you to all of the section members who contributed to our section programming, publications, and other section work in the past year.  I look forward to another year of leadership and hope that you will lend your talents to make the upcoming year the best for our section.  Below are the meeting minutes from our business and planning meeting, which recap our activities for 2016-17 and note plans we are making for new fellowship opportunities, CLE programs, and our section publications for the next year.  Please review the notes below and volunteer for one of the open slots.   

 

Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Section
Meeting Agenda and Minutes, July 13, 2017

1)    Pillars of the Strategic Plan and Brief Recap of Past Year’s Activities

a.    Fellowship
             
 i.  DRI Events

1.  Asbestos Medicine Seminar, Nov. 2016

2.  Products Liability Seminar, Feb. 2017

3.   Winter Meeting Dine Around, March 2017

 

b.    Membership
               i.  “All In” Drive – thanks for participating, and here are some results

  1.  258 names

  2.   54 new members so far

  3.   24 currently before the Admissions Comte.

  4.  180 names still on the prospect list

 

c.     Visibility/Value

  i.     CLE Programming at Winter Meeting –water rights and contamination litigation,
         well attended, cutting edge topic, lots of interest by attendees

  ii.    Publications by the Section Members

  1.  Quarterly Blogs

a.    OSHA Silica Exposure Rule

b.    OSHA Limits on Beryllium Exposure

  2.   Insights article –watch for it in July 2017:  “Can Biomarkers and
        Genetics Help Predict the Future of Malignant Mesothelioma?” by Kurt
        Reeg and Paul Knobbe

  3.   Monthly Newsletter – written by Chair and Vice Chairs each month

 

2)    Montreux 2017 Annual Meeting

a.    Fellowship Day, July 25, 2017

b.    Presentation with Energy and Utilities Law Section, July 28, 7:45 a.m.

 

3)    Planning for Winter Meeting 2018 in Amelia Island

a.    Convention Chair Brett Preston

b.    Program Chair Reid Manley

c.    Theme – Enlightening the Practice

d.    Ideas for presentation at Amelia Island?

 i.   Talc litigation

 ii.   Personal jurisdiction across various mass torts

iii.   Attacks on legislation to limit asbestos cases

iv.   Issues related to bankrupt  trusts – discovery, fraud

 v.   Piecemeal asbestos claims – plaintiffs filing against different groups of  
      defendants in different jurisdictions

e.    Volunteers interested in presenting at the Winter Meeting should contact Beth Bauer

 

4)    Upcoming fellowship and networking opportunities – Besides Annual Meeting

a.    Upcoming DRI and ABA meetings related to our section

b.    Corporate Counsel Symposium, Philly Sept. 17-19, registration open

c.     Asia Pacific Insurance Conference, Singapore, Oct. 18-20, early bird ends 7/31

d.    Insurance Industry Institute (I3), New York City, Nov. 9-10, 2017

e.    2018 Winter Meeting, Amelia Island, FL Feb. 24-28, 2018

f.      2018 Annual Meeting, Maui, HI July 29-Aug. 3, 2018

 

5)    Publication opportunities to grow your network

a.    Monthly newsletter – Volunteers needed

b.    Quarterly blog

  i.    Third Quarter – Paul Knobbe

  ii.    Fourth Quarter – Volunteer needed

c.     Insights –Volunteer needed

 

6)    Nominees for membership

a.    “All In” very effective, but still have requirement for section to nominate 2 people for
        membership each year

b.    Volunteer needed to spearhead this for the remainder of this term and next term
       (4 names total)

 

7)    New member outreach

a.    Volunteers needed

 

8)    Other business – None raised

 

 

Note:  After the conference call, I received notice that the following members are the section Vice Chairs for 2017-2018:

Vicki M. Smith

David A. Zuber

Kurtis B. Reeg

Paul J. Schumacher

Please contact any of us with your ideas for improving the TTEL section.

 

 

JUNE 2017

The summer of 2017 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting time for FDCC members in general and our section in particular.

2017 Annual Meeting:  Our much-anticipated 2017 FDCC Annual Meeting, which will take place in Switzerland from July 24 through July 29, promises to be one of our most memorable events ever. This year’s meeting will begin in the international business center of Zurich, where the FDCC and AIDA Switzerland will jointly present the Bridging the Gap Insurance Summit.  This dynamic half-day conference will be packed with international speakers and attendees who will address the complexities that insurance companies face in global litigation, especially in the North American and European markets.  Speakers will address the litigation risks that foreign corporations and their insurers face in the U.S. marketplace, and our European colleagues will discuss the new transatlantic data transfer rules that U.S. companies will have to confront in the EU and beyond.  The Zurich summit will conclude with a networking luncheon cruise on Lake Zurich.


For the remainder of the conference, we will head south to the exquisite Fairmont Le Montreux Palace, nestled on the banks of Lake Geneva and surrounded by breathtaking Alpine views.  Nearby, fine dining, outdoor activities, historical sites, vineyards and other great attractions beckon.  Montreux is just twenty minutes from the French border and less than an hour from the Italian border, offering a truly multicultural getaway.  Less than an hour’s drive is Mount Blanc, Europe’s tallest mountain, which towers above the fairytale village of Chamonix, France. Just an hour east of Montreux is the famed Matterhorn, which straddles the Swiss and Italian borders.  Ned and Sue Currie, Montreux Convention Chairs, have created a program of fun-packed and illuminating events in this incredible setting, including a day in Old Town Bern, a picturesque medieval village and a UNESCO World Heritage site.  Don’t miss the conference’s distinguished keynote speaker, human rights advocate Nontombi Tutu, daughter of international social rights and spiritual leader Desmond Tutu.


Todd and Debbie Roberts, Program and Registration Chairs, have put together five days of educational programs with the theme “Practicing with Swiss Precision.” As usual, our section and members will be active contributors to the program. The Energy Utilities Section and Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Section are partnering on a program titled “Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts.” The presentation will analyze aspects of the aftermath of the gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9, 2010, which resulted in 8 deaths, multiple injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims while undergoing intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal levels. Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation will explore the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in others.  The speakers are G. Bruce Parkerson, Plauche Maselli Parkerson, LLP, New Orleans, LA; J. Richard Caldwell, Jr., Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, Tampa, FL; and Michael  J. O’Connor, Associate General Manager and Chief Legal Executive Law & Human Resources, Salt River Project, Phoenix, AZ. 


At the plenary session on the first day of the meeting, I will join Chris McCall, Fotokite CEO and Kate Browne, Senior Vice President at SwissRe to present “Commercial Uses and Liability Exposures Associated with Drones.”  The audience will gain insight on the emerging uses, regulatory issues and potential exposures of the commercial use of drones.  Drone and autonomous vehicles (air, land and sea) are reshaping our society as well as our law practices.  Find out where potential exposures lie and how to develop and implement effective strategies to handle a potential new and emerging wave of litigation. 


I look forward to seeing many of you in Switzerland in July for an illuminating professional, educational and recreational experience.


Other section news: Keep your eye out for an article by our section members, Kurtis B. Reeg, Paul Knobbe and Lynn Lehnert in FDCC Insights entitled “Can Biomarkers and Genetics Help Predict the Future of Malignant Mesothelioma?”  The field of genetic markers as a defense in toxic tort litigation is intriguing.  This article addresses the ever-changing defenses to medical causation in the field of toxic torts.  We all must keep abreast of the science and medicine which effects toxic torts, and this paper will illuminate a potential path to a new defense. 


By this point, everyone has probably heard about our Section Leader Beth A. Bauer’s defense verdict in the City of Saint Louis Circuit Court in a talc case.  I am just starting to immerse myself in talc litigation and will be tapping Beth as a resource to get insight on her successful strategies.  I mention this as a reminder to everyone that colleagues in our section can be a great resource to each other and that we should share our collective knowledge.  Our section members are a strength to us all. 

The emerging area of toxic talc tort litigation seems to be moving at a fast pace with major developments occurring monthly.  For those about to just enter into this litigation, I highly recommend reviewing Judge Nelson C. Johnson’s decision in the Carl and Balderrama cases out of the Superior Court of New Jersey, Atlantic County.  This decision provides a good primer on general and specific medical causation issues in these types of cases.  I also recommend that you become familiar with the science and the medicine that is set forth in this decision, in which two of the plaintiffs’ main experts, Dr. Graham A. Colditz and Dr. Daniel W. Cramer were excluded from testifying and the case was ultimately dismissed.  As a side note, Judge Nelson is also the author of the book that was the basis of the popular HBO television series, Boardwalk Empire.  New Jersey also happens to be the venue for the talc MDL litigation, which is being administered by Hon. Freda L. Wolfson, U.S.D.J. and Hon. Louis H. Goodman, U.S.M.J.

Mark your calendars for the Corporate Counsel Symposium, which will be held in Philadelphia, September 17 through September 19, 2017, and the I3, which will be in New York November 9 through November 10, 2017.  Both of these events will be amazing educational and networking opportunities for our members.  The Corporate Counsel Symposium in Philadelphia will talk about the Trump administration’s effect on general counsel’s role in the regulatory and compliance environment; trade and international relations; crisis management; and best practices for in-house counsel in effectively marshaling and managing their in-house and outside legal teams in a global economy.  As always, it will address some of the hot issues and trends that in-house counsel confront on a daily basis and the best practices on how to address them.

As always, our section is looking for members to participate and volunteer in FDCC activities, and there is always a plethora of opportunities to do so.  We welcome your suggestions on ways of making our group a shining gem within the FDCC, and on giving you each an opportunity to shine.  You can have that opportunity at the 2018 FDCC Winter Meeting in Amelia Island, Florida, a popular return location that has proven to be an oasis in the heart of winter for our members.  The section is seeking ideas for presentation topics and papers, and you are encouraged to participate and get involved.  If you are interested, please contact our Section Leader, Beth A. Bauer (beth.bauer@heplerbroom.com).


This truly looks to be a fun and enriching summer for us, leading into an amazing fall.  I look forward to seeing you at upcoming FDCC events, maybe lakeside in Montreux, or in a Swiss vineyard while we share a glass of wine.

 

 

MAY 2017


Message to members of the Toxic Tort and Environmental Litigation Committee

The water presentation at our Charleston TTEL Section meeting entitled “A Tsunami of Rising Water Litigation” was outstanding and well-attended.  Our speakers were Attorneys William K. Koska and James E. Smith, and Hydrogeologist Gary E. Hokkanen. Topics included: damages (remediation, market value, stigma); the proof necessary for general and specific causation; safe harbor issues; emerging contaminants; lessons learned from the Flint, Michigan litigation to date; fracking; evolving regulatory actions; climate change; and water rights litigation, among others. Click here to go to our FDCC website and review the course materials.

 

There are many other ongoing developments, upcoming meetings, and exciting activities for FDCC members.  We all receive numerous emails concerning various FDCC programs and announcements and we thought it might be helpful to include a few of the these programs in our monthly announcements so that you have them all in one place. 

First, there are two important and valuable training programs scheduled to take place in June. The first is the Deposition Skills course that will be conducted at Hinshaw Culberson's offices in Chicago on June 12 and June 13. The same program will take place at Hinshaw Culberson on October 23 and October 24 in New York City. Please consider and encourage young lawyers from your firms to attend this fantastic training program.  There is additional information on the FDCC website that explains registration and includes a copy of the brochure.

Next, there is a Litigation Management Program scheduled to take place between June 4 and June 8 at Emory University in Atlanta. This is one of the crown jewel programs of the FDCC.  Spend a few moments thinking about the network of insurance professionals that you work with and send the brochure or a link to the FDCC website to someone today.  They will thank you for the referral for this excellent training event.  The registration materials and additional program information is on the FDCC website.

A recent announcement from FDCC President-Elect Scott Kreamer concerning the upcoming Switzerland meeting, FDCC appointments and committee selections, and other FDCC news was sent out to members at the end of April. The following is an excerpt concerning what you need to do to sign up for committees:

Committees and sections are a great place to start.  If you would like to become a member of specific sections, or want to be considered for a committee appointment, please complete the electronic “2017 Committee & Section Request Form.”  The form is posted on the FDCC website, www.thefederation.org and is accessible by logging in as a member, click on Committees and Sections, next click on “More in the Section” and select the form or Click here.

 

We are always looking for new section members and current section members that want to become more active.  FDCC is a great way to network and grow your practice.  When you invest some time with others on FDCC projects, the dividends are great – new friends, rewarding professional development, and often referrals of new cases and clients.  So log on to the website and sign up and plan to be active in the coming Federation year.  Contact any of our section leadership for more information:  Beth Bauer bab@heplerbroom.com; Dave Erickson (derickson@shb.com); Paul Schumacher (pschumacher@dmclaw.com); Kurt Reeg (kreeg@goldbergsegalla.com); or Jack Delany (jjd@delanymcbride.com).

 

Our next annual meeting is in Montreux, Switzerland this summer.  The Energy Utilities Section and Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Sections are partnering on the following section program for the Annual Meeting:

“Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts.”  The presentation analyzes aspects of the aftermath of the gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9, 2010, which resulted in 8 deaths, multiple injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims, while at the same time being the subject of intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal level.  Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation will explore the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in the others.  The speakers are: G. Bruce Parkerson of Plauche Maselli Parkerson, LLP, New Orleans, LA; J. Richard Caldwell, Jr. of Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, Tampa, FL; and Michael  J. O’Connor, Associate General Manager and Chief Legal Executive Law & Human Resources, Salt River Project, Phoenix, AZ.

 

For Switzerland, please make you non-refundable hotel reservations ASAP and make sure your passport will not expire within 6 months of the meeting.

Kudos to our Section Leader, Beth A. Bauer, who won a defense verdict just before the Charleston meeting in the 4th talc case tried in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court. Beth is continuing to participate in the series of trials in St. Louis and elsewhere concerning talc. At some point in the future, we hope to have Beth do a presentation at an FDCC meeting on the talc litigation.  If you have wins, important legal developments, or other news to report to the section, please send a note to any of the section leaders listed above and we will be sure to report them in the next section update.

 

 

APRIL 2017

The water presentation at our Charleston TTEL Section meeting entitled “A Tsunami of Rising Water Litigation” was outstanding and well-attended.  Our speakers were Attorneys William K. Koska and James E. Smith, and Hydrogeologist Gary E. Hokkanen. Topics included: damages (remediation, market value, stigma); the proof necessary for general and specific causation; safe harbor issues; emerging contaminants; lessons learned from the Flint, Michigan litigation to date; fracking; evolving regulatory actions; climate change; and water rights litigation, among others.    

 

Our next meeting is in Montreux, Switzerland this summer.  The Energy Utilities Section and Toxic Tort and Environmental Law Sections are partnering on the following section program for the Annual Meeting:

“Walking the Tightrope: Balancing the Defense in a War on Multiple Fronts.”  The presentation analyzes aspects of the aftermath of the gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno, CA on September 9, 2010, which resulted in 8 deaths, multiple injuries and millions of dollars in property damage. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) was forced to defend hundreds of civil lawsuits and claims, while at the same time being the subject of intense inquiries by several regulatory agencies at the state and federal level.  Federal criminal charges were brought against PG&E in the Northern District of California, which ultimately resulted in the company’s conviction on several counts. The presentation will explore the difficulties inherent in fighting multiple battles on multiple fronts, arising from the same set of circumstances, where each action in any context is likely to affect the defense in the others.  The speakers are: G. Bruce Parkerson of Plauche Maselli Parkerson, LLP, New Orleans, LA; J. Richard Caldwell, Jr. of Rumberger Kirk & Caldwell, Tampa, FL; and Michael  J. O’Connor, Associate General Manager and Chief Legal Executive Law & Human Resources, Salt River Project, Phoenix, AZ.

 

For Switzerland, please make you non-refundable hotel reservations ASAP and make sure your passport will not expire within 6 months of the meeting.

 

Kudos to our Section Leader, Beth A. Bauer, who won a defense verdict just before the Charleston meeting in the 4th talc case tried in the City of St. Louis Circuit Court.

 



BLOGS

 

OSHA Replaces 40-Year Old Permissible Exposure Limits On Beryllium

March 2017 - Just before the new administration was sworn in, OSHA took the opportunity to revise some seriously outdated exposure limits. On January 6, 2017, OSHA dramatically lowered its 40-year old permissible workplace exposure limit to beryllium. Beryllium is a strong, lightweight metal used in the aerospace, electronics, energy, telecommunication, medical and defense industries. However, it is highly toxic when beryllium-containing materials are processed in a way that releases airborne beryllium dust, fume, or mist into the workplace air that can be then inhaled by workers, potentially causing devastating lung diseases.
The new beryllium standards for general industry, construction and shipyards will require employers to take additional, practical measures to protect an estimated 62,000 workers from these serious risks. Recent scientific evidence shows that low-level exposures to beryllium can cause serious lung disease. The new rule revises previous beryllium permissible exposure limits, which were based on decades-old studies.

The final rule will reduce the eight-hour permissible exposure limit by ten times, from the previous level of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter to 0.2 micrograms per cubic meter. Above that level, employers must take steps to reduce the airborne concentration of beryllium. The rule requires additional protections, including personal protective equipment, medical exams, other medical surveillance and training, as well. It also establishes a short-term exposure limit of 2.0 micrograms per cubic meter over a 15-minute sampling period.

OSHA estimates that - once in full effect - the rule will annually save the lives of 94 workers from beryllium-related diseases and prevent 46 new cases of beryllium-related disease. Workers in foundry and smelting operations, fabricating, machining, grinding beryllium metal and alloys, beryllium oxide ceramics manufacturing and dental lab work represent the majority of those at risk.

To give employers sufficient time to meet the requirements and put proper protections in place, the rule provides staggered compliance dates. Once the rule is effective, employers have one year to implement most of the standard's provisions. However, just this week, in accordance an Executive Order to freeze new regulations, OSHA bumped back the effective date of this regulation from February 1, 2017 to March 21, 2017 to give the Agency time to review and reconsider the new regulation. Only time will tell if OSHA will now allow the regulation to become effective, but based on the dangers posed by exposure to beryllium, and the input OSHA received from industry and labor, we would expect this particular updated regulation to stand scrutiny by the new administration. Employers will need to begin working toward compliance very soon.

For more information about these changes and how they will affect your business, please contact Paul Schumacher at (216) 685-1827 or pschumacher@dmclaw.com.

more Calendar

11/9/2017 » 11/10/2017
Insurance Industry Institute

Featured Members
Melinda S. KollrossDefense Counsel, Clausen Miller PC, Chicago, IL
J. Eric MilesDefense Counsel North, Pursell & Ramos, PLC, Nashville, TN

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