News Recap for 1-29-21
Bloomberg Law: J&J Gets Consumer Protection Talc Suit Dismissed for Good — Judge Todd W. Robinson of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California permanently dismissed proposed class claims against Johnson & Johnson alleging they violated consumer protection laws by misrepresenting Baby Powder and Shower to Shower talcum powders as safe and pure when they contained asbestos and other hazardous substances. The plaintiffs didn’t satisfy the heightened requirements under federal pleading rules for fraud-based claims. He dismissed, with prejudice, the plaintiffs’ sixth attempt at filing a viable claim. The court said the plaintiffs didn’t show that the talcum products are unsafe, nor did they specify the content of the advertisements marking the products as “safe.”
MarketWatch: Biden administration looks set to target ‘forever chemicals,’ as 3M warns about ‘onerous regulation’ — President Joe Biden’s administration looks poised to crack down on a group of “forever chemicals” that have been linked to a range of health problems, a move that could put companies like 3M and DuPont on the hook for billions of dollars in cleanup costs. 3M said it would work with the Biden administration to improve water quality for all Americans based on scientific processes and collaboration with stakeholders. But the company, which would be required along with others producing, transporting or using PFAS to pay billions for cleanup under Biden’s proposed regulations, disagrees with the new administration about the toxicity of PFAS chemicals. The American Chemistry Council agrees, cautioning against labeling all PFAS chemicals as toxic. ACC says these chemicals are vital for Americans’ everyday lives because of their use in everything from communication devices and aircraft to alternative energy and medical devices, COVID-19 tests and medical garments.
Legal Newsline: Wisconsin governor’s PFAS ‘Action Plan’: Call the lawyers — Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers formed a PFAS Action Council soon after he was elected in 2019, and the resulting Action Plan included a variety of recommendations including setting groundwater standards, cleaning up known contamination sites, and taking “appropriate legal actions against companies responsible for PFAS discharges.” Now Wisconsin will follow in the footsteps of several other states and solicit bids from law firms interested in representing the state in PFAS litigation. Litigation will likely end up in a multidistrict litigation proceeding in South Carolina federal court.
Wall Street Journal: Biden Gives Regulators a Free and Heavy Hand — A new op-ed from the former director of the Office of Management and Budget dissects how a recent presidential memo could place outsized power in the hands of federal regulators. “Translated from OMB-speak into English, [the memo] means throw out traditional measures, use anything you can possibly find to promote the benefit side of the cost-benefit analysis, and don’t do anything that might impair new regulation or remove old rules. The message from the Biden administration is that wherever cost-benefit analyses might create an impediment to regulation, OMB should feel free to throw out the math and use whatever it can find in the annals of some fringe academic journal to justify the new rules.”
Indy Week: EPA Rejects N.C. Environmental Groups’ Petition for “Forever Chemicals” Study — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has rejected a petition from six North Carolina environmental groups that would have forced the Chemours chemical company to fund health studies on 54 types of “forever chemicals” released from its Fayetteville Works plant, saying the petitioners failed to prove the requested data was needed. The groups say they will ask President Joe Biden’s administration to reconsider the petition. Biden has nominated Michael Regan, secretary of the N.C. Department of Environmental Quality, to lead the EPA. Biden has said he will declare two of the oldest and most troublesome PFAS—perfluorooctanoic acid and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS)—hazardous substances under the federal Superfund law.