Author Archives: David E. Rutkowski

Recent NYCAL Trends in the 2017 & 2018 Accelerated Clusters

The current state of asbestos litigation in New York City (NYCAL) continues to evolve as both the plaintiffs’ bar and defense bar deal with a revised Case Management Order (CMO) and judicial turnover. For a better understanding of the types of claims that are actually being litigated in NYCAL, and what firms are filing these claims, we can look at the current filing trends under the “cluster” procedure that is used in this jurisdiction. The CMO explains there are three dockets used in NYCAL: (1)…

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Concrete Factual Information Starts the 30-Day Removal Clock United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division., June 22, 2018

ILLINOIS — In September 2016, the plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and in September 2017, he filed suit against a defendant, and a number of other parties, alleging his illness was caused by exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff claimed that his exposure occurred between 1970 and 2004 while he was serving in the United States Air Force, working as a commercial airline mechanic, and/or engaging in home remodeling and other activities. The defendant was served with the plaintiff’s complaint on September 21, 2017 and filed…

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Baltimore $5 Million-plus Verdict Overturned for New Trial Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, May 11, 2018

MARYLAND — On May 11, 2018, defendants Mack Trucks, Inc. and Ford Motor Co. (collectively as defendants) won a new trial with a decision that overturned a $5 million-plus verdict issued by a Baltimore City jury. The Court of Special Appeals of Maryland found that the trial court provided improper instructions to the jury on the issue of negligence, which was prejudicial to the defendants. Accordingly, the judgments were reversed and remanded for further proceedings on the negligence claims against them not inconsistent with the…

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U.S. Supreme Court Denies Certiorari for Appeal of Punitive Damages Award U.S. Supreme Court, March 26, 2018

MISSOURI — In the matter of Jeannette G. Poage vs. Crane Co., Docket No. 17-900, the Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, Crane Co. affirmed, among other things, the lower’s court punitive damages award in favor of plaintiff. Crane Co. appealed to the Supreme Court, requesting the high court address two key issues:  (1) Whether the due process clause requires appellate review that considers factors undermining the reasonableness of the punitive damages award; and (2) whether the due process clause prohibits a punitive damages…

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Court Finds Jurisdictional Discovery Relevant to Specific Jurisdiction Inquiry U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, March 23, 2018

LOUISIANA — In this case, the plaintiff filed suit in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, alleging the Decedent William Leech was diagnosed with mesothelioma on January 11, 2016 and passed away on January 14, 2016. The plaintiff further alleges the decedent was a construction engineer who worked with and was exposed to asbestos at numerous job sites in Louisiana, California, Arizona, Virginia, and other states from approximately 1965 through 1992, including the Morton Salty facility in Weeks Island,…

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New York First Department, Appellate Division, Affirms NYCAL CMO Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, March 22, 2018

New York — On June 20, 2017, former NYCAL Justice Peter Moulton issued a new case management order (New CMO) in NYCAL and an accompanying decision with respect to same. The NYCAL defendants did not consent to the New CMO. ACT’s prior post on the New CMO is available here. NYCAL defendants subsequently appealed. On March 22, 2018, the Appellate Division, First Department, determined that the New CMO did not do not deprive defendants of due process and Justice Moulton, pursuant to certain court…

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Third Party Negligence Found as New Proximate Cause in a Mesothelioma Claim U.S. Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit, December 14, 2017

Plaintiff Erik Ross Phillips filed suit against a number of defendants after contracting mesothelioma allegedly caused by occupational exposure to asbestos in brake linings used in a machine at the facilities of his employer. The defendants, among others, included the manufacturers and distributors of the brake linings. At trial, Phillips pursued a negligent failure-to-warn theory under North Carolina law against both defendants. As a defense, the distributor and manufacturer argued that even if they were negligent, they are not liable because of the intervening negligence…

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Los Angeles Jury Concludes Mesothelioma Not Caused By Asbestos Superior Court of the State of California, County of Los Angeles, October 27, 2017

CALIFORNIA — The estate of Velma Searcy (plaintiffs) filed suit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles for the personal injuries and subsequent death of Velma Searcy at age 51. The plaintiffs argued that Searcy’s mesothelioma diagnosis and death was caused from occupational exposure to asbestos through Searcy’s work as an electrician in the aerospace industry. The plaintiffs’ claims also included allegations of take-home asbestos exposure as a child watching her father perform brake changes on various vehicles. Most of the defendants either settled with…

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Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Consider Manufacturer’s Liability for Asbestos-Containing Component Parts Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, October 26, 2017

PENNSYLVANIA — The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit submitted a Petition for Certification of Question Law on the following issues for consideration: (1) Whether, under Pennsylvania law, a manufacturer as a duty to warn about the hazards of asbestos relating to component parts it has neither manufactured or supplied and (2) if such a duty exists, what is the appropriate legal test to determine liability. On October 26, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to consider these issues and instructed parties…

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Plaintiff’s Incomplete Deposition Testimony Deemed Inadmissible; Summary Judgment Granted for Defendant U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, October 19, 2017

OHIO — The decedent, Donald French, filed suit as a result of his diagnosis of mesothelioma allegedly caused by occupational exposure from asbestos-containing products through his work at U.S. Steel in Dearborn, Michigan. French provided testimony as to his alleged exposures at a discovery deposition that lasted approximately 18 hours over three days. On the third day, French identified the defendant as a source of exposure. The deposition, however, was not completed. The fourth day of deposition was adjourned due to French’s poor health. French…

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