Madison County “Judicial Hellhole” Designation Sees Signs of Changing

Madison County, Illinois has traditionally been dubbed the “judicial hellhole” of asbestos litigation, but this designation shows signs of changing. In the first half of 2016, this venue had 29 percent of the nation’s asbestos filings. It has a history of unfair docketing practices, denial of forum non conveniens motions, and large plaintiff verdicts. Full-blown jury trials in asbestos litigation are rare for various reasons, not the least of which is the threat of multi-million dollar plaintiff verdicts, but in recent years Madison County jury verdicts have favored a wide variety of defendants over plaintiffs. Defense verdicts have ranged from premises and joint compound defendants to naval suppliers and automotive brake grinders. This significant trend may serve to quell the fears of defendants being served with complaints in this jurisdiction, ...
Continue Reading...


Denial of Remand Based on Government Directed Actions of Airplane Manufacturing Process United States District Court for the Northern District of California, June 20, 2017

The plaintiff filed a motion to remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction in the United States District Court in the Northern District of California. The plaintiff, Joseph Thrash, alleged he was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2016, and was exposed to asbestos while he worked on B-52, C-141, and C-5 airplanes in the United States Air Force from 1975 through the 1980s and while doing automotive work at various locations. The defendant, The Boeing Company, removed the case to federal court; shortly thereafter, defendants United Technology Corporation, Lockheed Martin Corporation, and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company filed notices of joinder in Boeing’s removal notice. The plaintiffs alleged that “Defendants placed their names, logos, and trademarks on asbestos products as well as put out as their own asbestos products ...
Continue Reading...

Timely Removed Take-Home Exposure Case Remanded for Failure to Establish Colorable Federal Defense U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, June 19, 2017

The plaintiffs filed suit against several defendants including Avondale alleging that their decedent, Ms. Blouin, contracted mesothelioma after washing the laundry of her husband’s work clothes. Victor Blouin worked as an electrician for Avondale onboard two government vessels from April 1972 until August 1972. The plaintiffs’ claims were brought in negligence and not for strict liability. Avondale removed the case to federal court on March 28, 2017, 26 days after receiving a copy of the deposition transcript. The plaintiffs’ moved to remand. The plaintiffs took the position that the removal was untimely as it was filed more than 30 days from the deposition of Victor Blouin which occurred on February 17 and 20, 2017. The plaintiffs contended that the removal should have been filed within 30 days of the deposition ...
Continue Reading...

Lung Cancer Case Transferred After Defendants Successfully Argue Forum Non Conveniens on Appeal Appellate Court of Illinois, June 13, 2017

Plaintiffs Irvin and Marlene Rohl brought this action against several defendants including Caterpillar and Navistar. The plaintiffs argued that Mr. Rohl’s lung cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos from brakes, gaskets, clutches, engines, and heavy duty equipment made by Caterpillar and Navistar. At the trial level,  the defendants moved to transfer the case from Cook County to Winnebago County on the doctrine of forum non conveniens. The court denied the motion after a finding that the plaintiff had attended trade school in Cook County in the late 1940s. On appeal, the court took exception with the factual record relied upon by the trial court. The court started its analysis by delineating the elements of forum non conveniens. Essentially, the doctrine is a balancing test between public and private interests. ...
Continue Reading...

Misidentification of Brake Manufacturer’s Name Sufficient for Summary Judgment Superior Court of Delaware, June 14, 2017

The plaintiffs filed suit in the Superior Court of Delaware claiming that Amanda Dullinger was secondarily exposed to Defendant Abex LLC’s asbestos containing brakes while she was a child causing her to develop mesothelioma. The plaintiff’s mother, Tammy Allen, was the plaintiffs’ primary product identification witness. Ms. Allen testified that Ms. Dullinger was present when automotive work was done between 1982 and 1986. Specifically, Ms. Dullinger testified that “Apex” brakes were one of the top three brands of brakes used around Ms. Dullinger. Further, she believed the “Apex” brakes were fully assembled brake shoes and the box said the brakes contained asbestos. Abex argued that it was entitled to summary judgment based on Ms. Allen’s testimony. The core of Abex’s argument was that the plaintiff lacked product identification evidence because ...
Continue Reading...

Raw Asbestos Supplier to Transite Pipe Manufacturer Not Subject to Personal Jurisdiction Supreme Court of the State of Washington, June 8, 2017

Plaintiff Donald Noll sued a number of manufacturers, sellers, and suppliers of asbestos and asbestos-containing products, including Special Electric. Noll alleged that he developed malignant mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos when he worked construction in Washington between 1977 and 1979 cutting asbestos-cement pipes. Those asbestos-cement pipes were manufactured by CertainTeed Corporation, and CertainTeed received most of its asbestos from Special Electric. Special Electric moved to dismiss on the basis that the trial court lacked specific personal jurisdiction over it because its contacts were limited to the California-based corporation, Certain-Teed, and did not extend to Washington.  In the complaint, Noll alleged jurisdiction was proper because, “This Court has jurisdiction over this cause pursuant to RCW 4.12.025 because, at all times relevant herein, defendants transacted business and/or may be served with process ...
Continue Reading...

Successor Liability Decision Reversed in Oregon Court of Appeals of Oregon, June 7, 2017

The plaintiff appealed the trial court’s granting of the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on successor liability. This suit involves the plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos from his work in Portland shipyards during the 1950s. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the ground that any of its liabilities “that may have existed prior to 1965 were transferred to another company” and, therefore, it could not be held liable for the alleged injuries suffered prior to that transfer. The plaintiff appealed this decision arguing that the court erred by denying the plaintiff, the nonmoving party, the benefit of all reasonable inferences. In granting the defendant’s motion, the trial court concluded that there was no specific document delineating the defendant’s transfer of liabilities and there was significant and cumulative circumstantial evidence that ...
Continue Reading...

Plaintiff’s Mesothelioma Claims Barred by Wisconsin Worker’s Compensation Act

In a consolidated matter, three of the plaintiffs, Diane Jacobs, Katrina Masephol, and Janice Seehar (the Weyerhaeuser plaintiffs), filed claims against various defendants after developing mesothelioma.  Each had worked for Weyerhaeuser for years in close contact with asbestos.  As such, in order to get around Wisconsin’s Workers Compensation Act, Wis. Stat. § 102.03(2), which provides the “exclusive remedy against the employer” for work-related injuries, the plaintiffs argued that their asbestos-related injuries were not caused on the job, but at home and in the community, and style these as public and private nuisance claims. The plaintiffs presented expert witnesses in support of this theory but the district judge rejected this testimony finding that plaintiffs failed to demonstrate that the expert testimony would be reliable.  The judge reasoned that none of these ...
Continue Reading...

Insulation Supplier Contracting with U.S. Navy Protected by Government Contractor Defense Court of Appeals of California, First Appellate District, June 6, 2017

Jay Wanlass filed suit against Metalclad Insulation Corp. (Metalclad) based on alleged exposure to friable asbestos. Metalclad moved for summary judgment, which the trial court granted. The plaintiff appealed that decision to the First District Court of Appeal for Division 2 in California. In 1968, Metalclad entered into an agreement with the United States Navy to supply insulation for piping on four nuclear-powered submarines. Those submarines were all constructed at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in Vallejo, California. The plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos containing insulation while he was working as a machinist at Mare Island from 1968-80 on the submarines for which Metalclad brokered the Unibestos to the Navy. Metalclad argued the plaintiff’s claims are precluded under the government contractor defense, which shields military contractors from state tort ...
Continue Reading...

Possibility of Exposure Not Enough to Overcome Summary Judgment Motions of Brake Manufacturers and Supplier Court of Appeals of Kentucky, June 2, 2017

Decedent Bobby Vickery died of mesothelioma and his estate was substituted as a party to this action.  The plaintiff estate appealed the granting of summary judgment to defendants Eaton Corporation, ArvinMeritor, Pneumo-Abex, and Brake Supply Company.  The appellate court affirmed, with one judge dissenting. The plaintiff alleged Mr. Vickery was exposed to asbestos from a variety of different sources.  He had fifty employers between 1966 and 2003, and alleged asbestos exposure during three of those jobs.  For purposes of this appeal, the court summarized his alleged exposure as follows.  First, during his work at Coleman Auto Parts, Mr. Vickery picked up new parts from NAPA and delivered them to regional NAPA stores.  He also hauled used brake cores to the Rayloc facility.  Plaintiff presented evidence that Abex made 99 percent ...
Continue Reading...