Author Archives: James F. Coleman

New Jersey Jury Awards $37 Million Compensatory Damage Verdict in Asbestos-Talc Case

NEW JERSEY — On April 5, 2018, a Middlesex County, New Jersey jury awarded $37 million in compensatory damages to Plaintiff Stephen Lanzo III and his wife, Kendra, in a mesothelioma case. The plaintiffs alleged that Lanzo developed mesothelioma from his decades-long exposure to asbestos-containing talcum powder sold by Johnson & Johnson and supplied by Imerys Talc America, Inc.  The jury awarded $30 million to Lanzo and $7 million to his wife. The jury will return on April 10, 2018, to consider the plaintiffs’ claims…

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Growing Number of Cases Involving Cosmetic Talc and Mesothelioma Nationwide

In the past five years, the number of lawsuits filed against manufacturers of cosmetic talcum powder has skyrocketed. The lawsuits generally allege that the application of the alleged defective product causes ovarian cancer in women, many times decades after exposure. As the cases involving ovarian cancer balloon with varying degrees of success, plaintiffs have recently begun filing a growing number of lawsuits alleging that exposure to asbestos-containing cosmetic talcum powder causes mesothelioma. The science behind these cases is evolving; courts and juries are not convinced…

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Summary Judgment Denied Based on Potential Successor-In-Interest Liability of Pump Manufacturer U.S. District Court for the Middle District Georgia, Albany Division, March 28, 2018

GEORGIA — The plaintiff Mary Farmer, individually and as the surviving spouse of Bobby Lee Farmer, initiated this action in the Superior Court of Dougherty County, Georgia on February 26, 2016. On March 28, 2016, the defendants filed a Notice of Removal, invoking Federal Court diversity jurisdiction. With leave, the plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on December 22, 2016. The plaintiff sued 25 defendants, alleging negligence, product liability negligence, loss of consortium, punitive damages, and wrongful death. Three defendants, Fisher Controls, Inc., Honeywell International Inc.…

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Five Million Dollar Mesothelioma Punitive Damages Award Upheld U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, March 29, 2018

ARIZONA — Plaintiff Goerge Coulbourn was a machinist for the United States Navy from 1959 to 1966, during which time he worked with several products sold by defendant Crane Company that contained “significant amounts of asbestos.” The plaintiff sued Crane, alleging, amongst other things, that Crane’s products were defective in failing to warn of the dangers that asbestos posed. The plaintiff died in August 2013, and his wife, Sandra Coulbourn, filed an amended complaint on behalf of herself and her family, asserting a claim for…

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Case Remanded After Appeals Court Finds Plaintiff’s Expert Unreliable Court of Appeals of Texas, March 29, 2018

TEXAS — Plaintiff Leonard Baca alleged that while working for defendant BNSF’s predecessor in interest, he was exposed to asbestos, causing him to develop asbestosis. The plaintiff retained an expert, Dr. Alvin Schonfeld, a pulmonogist, who provided a report in which he concluded that Baca’s asbestosis was causally related to his exposure to asbestos during his employment. BNSF moved to exclude Dr. Schonfeld’s causation opinion as inadmissible because it was unreliable under well-established case law. The trial court denied the motion, but also granted permission…

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Remand Affirmed Due to Lack of Causal Nexus in Take-Home Exposure Case U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, March 16, 2018

LOUISIANA — The Legendre brothers filed suit in Louisiana State Court on behalf of their sister, Mary Jane Wilde, who died from complications related to mesothelioma. Their father, Percy Legendre, worked at a shipyard owned and operated by Huntington Ingalls, Inc. (Avondale) and was allegedly exposed to asbestos. The plaintiffs further alleged that Mary Jane was exposed to asbestos via fibers that were on her father’s work clothes and this exposure caused her to develop mesothelioma. Defendant Avondale invoked the federal officer removal statute and…

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Summary Judgment Affirmed Based on Lack of Admissible Evidence of Secondary Asbestos Exposure Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California, March 8, 2018

CALIFORNIA —Sandra Foglia and her children filed suit against Moore Dry Dock (MDD), alleging that the decedent, Ronald Foglia, was exposed to asbestos via his late father, Felix Foglia, and developed mesothelioma. The plaintiffs alleged that Felix was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at a shipyard operated by MDD. MDD moved for summary judgment, claiming it owed no duty of care to the decedent for secondary exposure and that the plaintiffs could not reasonably obtain evidence to show that the decedent was…

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Cumulative-Exposure Theory Inconsistent with Test for Causation; Not a Sufficient Basis for Finding Substantial Factor Supreme Court of Ohio, January 24, 2018 (decided); February 8, 2018 (released)

OHIO — The decedent  Kathleen Schwartz’s husband, Mark Schwartz, filed suit against numerous manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, alleging that asbestos exposure caused her to develop mesothelioma, leading to her death. By the time of trial, Honeywell International, Inc., the successor-in-interest to Bendix Corporation, was the only defendant who remained. The issue at trial — and on appeal — was whether the decedent’s exposure to asbestos from Bendix brake products was a substantial factor in causing the decedent’s mesothelioma. The decedent’s father changed the brakes in…

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Case Remanded to Determine Setoff Amounts from Settlements with Asbestos Trusts Supreme Court of Mississippi, February 15, 2018

MISSISSIPPI — On February 13, 2009, Clara Hagan filed a complaint, as the representative of Bennie Oakes, against Illinois Central Railroad in the Warren County Circuit Court. The complaint, brought under the provisions of the Federal Employers Liability Act, sought to recover damages for personal injuries and/or death sustained by decedent Bennie Oakes while decedent was employed by Illinois Central and while engaging in interstate commerce. The decedent was employed by Illinois Central from 1952 through 1994 and alleged he was exposed to asbestos “on…

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Exclusion of Decedent’s Deposition Testimony Upheld due to Lack of Meaningful Opportunity for Cross Examination Superior Court of Delaware, February 7, 2018

DELAWARE — Plaintiff William Sykes filed suit in March of 2014 against numerous defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma in October, 2013. The plaintiff’s counsel requested expedited trial and discovery depositions due to Plaintiff’s rapidly deteriorating health; a video trial deposition was taken on April 16, 2014. During a break in the trial deposition, the plaintiff informed counsel that he was unable to complete the remainder of the deposition. At that time, the parties were left with only the video trial deposition and no cross…

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