Claims not going to state courts: A federal appeals court has refused to transfer thousands of personal injury claims against Exxon Corp. from federal to state court in connection with a 1994 fire at its Baton Rouge chemical plant. Lawyers for more than 16,000 people who claim they were injured by a smoke plume from the fire at the plant were challenging a federal judge’s “take-nothing” judgment against their cases in 2007. Plaintiffs’ lawyers wanted the consolidated cases heard in state courts, both in Louisiana and Texas, but the ruling by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans says they belonged in federal court. In 2006, plaintiffs’ lawyers chose five “test” cases to be tried together in federal court. A jury found in Exxon’s favor.
Ginsberg undergoes surgery: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery today after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the court says. Ginsburg, 75, had the surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, says her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan. The court announcement says the cancer is apparently in the early stages. In 1999, Ginsburg had surgery for colon cancer and had chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The only woman on the court, she has been a justice since 1993.
Tape released of plane crash: Just before he ditched into New York’s Hudson River last month, the pilot of US Airways Flight 1549 calmly radioed to air traffic controllers, “We’re going to be in the Hudson.” The audio recordings, released today by the Federal Aviation Administration, reflect the initial tension between tower controllers and the cockpit and then confusion about whether the passenger jet went into the river. “I’m sorry, say again Cactus,” an air traffic controller responded after hearing the pilot’s message that he was ditching the Airbus A320. Pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger has told FAA investigators he glided the plane into the river rather than risking a catastrophic crash in a densely populated area. All 155 aboard survived. To hear the audio recording, click here.