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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

6/4/2017 » 6/8/2017
23rd Annual Litigation Management College

6/4/2017 » 6/8/2017
14th Annual LMC Graduate Program

6/12/2017 » 6/13/2017
Deposition Boot Camp

7/24/2017 » 7/29/2017
2017 FDCC Annual Meeting/ Bridging The Gap Insurance Summit

9/17/2017 » 9/19/2017
Corporate Counsel Symposium

Featured Members
Marjorie J. BergerMarjorie is with American Nuclear Insurers in CT
Bradford D. BoxBrad Box is with Rainey, Kizer, Reviere & Bell in TN

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