Public Entities

August 30, 2017

Lead-Based Paint Is a “Pollutant” within CGL Pollution Exclusion

Source:, August 2017
By: Kent Holland

Where lead-based paint was ingested by a tenant’s child, the tenant sued her landlord for injuries allegedly sustained by the child. The landlord tendered the claim to its commercial general liability (CGL) insurer who, instead of defending the case, filed a declaratory judgment action seeking a determination that the pollution exclusion of the CGL policy barred coverage for the alleged injuries. The Owner held that, although not specifically listed in the pollution definition as a “pollutant,” lead-based paint is, in fact, a “pollutant” within the meaning of the policy. The policy’s pollution exclusion was, therefore, applicable, and the insurer had no duty to defend and indemnify the landlord. See Georgia Farm Bureau Mut. Ins. Co. v. Smith, 298 Ga. 716, 784 S.E.2d 422 (2016).

The terms of the CGL policy required the insurer “to pay those sums that the insured becomes legally obligated to pay as damages because of ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’” … “only if: (1) the ‘bodily injury’ or ‘property damage’ is caused by an ‘occurrence’ that takes place ….” An occurrence is defined as “an accident.” Coverage was subject to exclusions, including the pollution exclusion, which provided that the insurance does not apply to “(1) ‘[b]odily injury’ or ‘property damage’ arising out of the actual, alleged or threatened discharge, dispersal, seepage, migration, release or escape of ‘pollutants’: (a) [a]t or from any premises, site or location which is or was at any time owned or occupied by, or rented or loaned to, any insured.”…

January 25, 2017

$80M Asbestos Settlement Reached in Kansas City

Source:, January 25, 2017
By: Beth Swantek

An $80 million asbestos settlement involving two former Jackson County courthouse employees led to Missouri’s largest medical monitoring fund established in an asbestos case.

The class-action asbestos lawsuit settled more than 30 years after a renovation exposed thousands of government workers to deadly asbestos fibers.

Jackson County and Kansas City-based U.S. Engineering, the firm responsible for the asbestos removal, agreed to settle the case in October 2016, just a week prior to the opening trial date.

An estimated 7,500 people — former courthouse employees, jurors, attorneys and jail inmates — could qualify for ongoing medical screenings financed by the bulk of the settlement for the next 30 years, according to the Kansas City Star.

Seeking Preventative Medical Testing

Former employees Jeanne Morgan and David Elsea instigated the class-action suit in 2015, a few years after co-worker Nancy Lopez died of mesothelioma. The asbestos-related cancer, on average, claims its victims one year after diagnosis.

The two wanted nothing more than free medical testing for the rest of their lives — a way to ensure any potential asbestos-related health issues could be caught early.

But the asbestos settlement also made this possible for thousands of others, dividing the beneficiaries into two groups:

· Those who can prove they were in the courthouse for at least 80 hours during the two-year asbestos removal are eligible for thorough annual medical exams, including chest X-rays and blood screenings.…

June 23, 2016

Schuette: Firms made Flint’s water crisis ‘worse’

Source:, June 22, 2016
By: Jonathan Oosting

Attorney General Bill Schuette on Wednesday sued a pair of engineering firms for allegedly allowing the Flint water contamination crisis to “occur, continue and worsen,” a claim the companies denied and vowed to fight.

Schuette filed the civil lawsuit in Genesee County Circuit Court against Veolia North America and Lockwood Andrews & Newnam (LAN). The suit also names LAN’s Nebraska-based parent company, Leo A. Daly Co.

The engineering firms, hired to assist the city before and after it began using Flint River water in April 2014, “basically botched it,” Schuette said at a press conference at the University of Michigan-Flint.“They didn’t stop the water in Flint from being poisoned, they made it worse.”

The attorney general told reporters the state may seek to recover “hundreds of millions” in damages from the companies, money he said could be used to provide services, education and health care infrastructure in Flint.

The city had hired LAN in June 2013 to prepare its treatment plant for full-time operation using Flint River water. Then-Emergency Manager Ed Kurtz authorized the sole-source contract with the Texas-based company.

The suit, which also accuses LAN of a public nuisance, claims the company’s “failure to design and implement corrosion control breaches the duty of a professional engineering firm in this field” and violated the Safe Drinking Water Act.…

August 1, 2011

Asbestos lawsuit to be settled for $270,000

Read here about a city in Wisconsin that has agreed to pay $270,000 to settle an asbestos lawsuit.…

June 21, 2011

Raritan Bay pollution lawsuit targets 8 companies, state agencies

Source:, April 16, 2009
By: Laura Craven

Two environmental groups will announce today that they plan to sue eight public and private entities over pollution in and around Raritan Bay.

The nonprofits, Edison Wetlands Association and NY/NJ Baykeeper, said they have sent letters of intent to NL Industries Inc.; NL Environmental Management Services Inc.; Sayreville Economic and Redevelopment Agency; O’Neill Properties Group; Sayreville Seaport Associates; Middlesex County; the Turnpike Authority; and New Jersey Department of Transportation.

“It’s been far too long that toxic pollution in the Raritan has threatened the safety and health of the families who use the river,” said Robert Spiegel, executive director of the EWA. “Our legal action will accomplish what the DEP repeatedly failed to do — hold those who poisoned New Jersey’s longest river accountable for their actions.”

The nonprofits maintain the contamination comes from National Lead, which operated on a 400-acre site in Sayreville from 1935 to 1982, and from inefficient storm water programs run by transportation authorities.…

June 15, 2011

Part of City Hall crumbling: Despite de-molding and plywood reinforcements, Key West’s City Hall is still a mess and may not survive a Category 2 hurricane

Source: The Miami Herald, February 26, 2006
By: Jennifer Babson

In Key West’s crumbling City Hall annex, wires protrude from ceilings, workers have glued plywood to keep concrete beams from falling, and an air-circulation problem has given the mayor a severe case of itchy eyes.

“It’s bad,” sniffled Mayor Morgan McPherson. “I’m taking steroids now.”

For more than a decade, city consultants have warned that Key West’s peach-colored City Hall and an adjacent building located in the island’s historic district were in dire need of replacement. But last year’s string of storms turned a problem into a crisis, forcing officials to scramble for a replacement that will cost millions and take years to erect.

In the meantime, Mother Nature might end up lending a hand with demolition.

“In a Category 2, the building will be here, but the roof will come off,” said John Jones, Key West’s assistant city manager.

In recent months, mold has mushroomed between concrete and sheetrock, forcing the city to pay $63,000 to a contractor that employs a substance known for its ability to also nix anthrax. But the black fuzzies have been here before.…

April 5, 2011

University Place to rid parks of tainted soil

Source: The News Tribune, Tacoma, WA, March 29, 2011
By: Christian Hill

Later this year, crews will remove arsenic-contaminated soil from play areas at three popular University Place parks – Curran Apple Orchard, Sunset Terrace Park and Colegate/Curtis Playfield. Workers will also do minor cleanup at Cirque/Bridgeport Park.

Tests by the state Department of Ecology continue to show unacceptable levels of the toxic element, the residue of nearly a century of operations at the Asarco copper smelter.

University Place was among many Pierce County communities polluted with arsenic, lead and other heavy metals from the Ruston plant, which closed in 1984.

Officials say the level of arsenic contamination at the play areas poses no immediate danger. Contamination also turned up in the soil at Morrison and Homestead parks, but was deemed a lesser priority because it was found away from play areas.…

March 31, 2011

St. Louis to get $26.5 million from Velsicol and others in water settlement

Source:, March 30, 2011
By: Linda Gittleman

After five long years of negotiations, St. Louis has reached a $26.5 million settlement in its suit against Velcisol Chemical Co. and others over contamination of the city’s water supply.

In special meetings on Sunday and again on Tuesday, the St. Louis City Council unanimously approved the agreement, city manager Bob McConkie said.

“It’s a monumental and historic occasion and it’s a gigantic step forward in our quest to provide reliable and quality water so the citizens won’t fear it,” McConckie said.

In 2005, as the city and the nearby townships continued its struggle to clean up the pollution left by Velsicol, St. Louis officials were warned by the state’s Department of Environmental Quality to find a new source of water.

Traces of pCBSA, a by product of DDT, was found in heavy concentrations in the test wells of the city and in much smaller concentrations in the drinking water.…

March 30, 2011

Socorro-Horizon wastewater fight goes on

Source: El Paso Times (TX), March 28, 2011
Posted on:

A fight between the Horizon Municipal Utility District and the city of Socorro over a wastewater discharge project here continues.

Most recently, a district judge ruled the Horizon Municipal Utility District has to get proper permits to continue with the project.

However, Benny Davis, president of the Horizon Municipal Utility District board of directors, said the district is appealing the court’s decision.

The Horizon Municipal Utility District sued Socorro in November for allegedly not letting them finish a $2.2 million wastewater discharge project in the Mesa Spur Drain, an irrigation canal owned and operated by El Paso County Water Improvement District No. 1.

In a written statement, the city of Socorro said a judge ruled the utility district has to apply for the permits in order to discharge three million gallons of wastewater per day through a pipeline that flows into the Mesa Spur Drain.

Socorro officials said these rules are designed to protect the Lower Valley community’s public health and safety.…

March 28, 2011

Contaminated soil to be removed from St. Joe State Park

Source:, March 26, 2011
By: Paula Barr

Lead-contaminated soil will be removed in St. Joe Park’s off-road vehicle (ORV) riding areas and other sections of the park as part of a new agreement among the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Doe Run Resources Corporation and the Missouri Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Division of State Parks.

In an administrative settlement agreement and order of consent for removal action announced Friday, Doe Run and DNR have a 60-day-period to file a draft work plan to EPA that outlines the steps they will take to complete the removal and to replace the soil with clean dirt.

“We’re pleased to have an agreement in place that identifies how and where work will take place in St. Joe State Park,” said Aaron Miller, The Doe Run’s vice president of environmental affairs. “The park is one of Missouri’s popular recreation parks, and we’ve made several improvements to the park over the years. Doe Run, along with the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MDNR), submitted an engineering study in 2009 detailing plans to do additional work, and we’re pleased the agreement is signed.” Doe Run and the MDNR Division of State Parks and Historic Preservation have a long history of working together to improve St. Joe State Park. We’re working together towards finalizing detailed plans in the next few weeks, and we’re eager to get the joint work under way.”…