Author Archives: James F. Coleman

Prior Recovery From Party Bars Wrongful Death Claim; Estate’s Claims Against New Parties Can Proceed Court of Appeals of Washington, Division 1 May 29, 2018

WASHINGTON — The plaintiff Barbara Brandes brought a personal injury action against Brand Insulations Inc. (Brand) and other entities after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. During the pendency of the litigation, Mrs. Brandes passed away, and her action against Brand and others was converted into a survivorship action. During trial, the estate confirmed that it was not seeking to add any new claims or evidence, stating it was not pursuing any potential wrongful death claims at that time. The jury returned a verdict against some…

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Defects in Chain of Custody Lead to Affirmation of Talcum Powder Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California, May 16, 2018

CALIFORNIA — The plaintiffs Barbara and John Wittman asserted claims for negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, and loss of consortium against Defendant Coty, Inc. (Coty) alleging that Barbara’s exposure to asbestos in Coty’s talcum powder resulted in her developing mesothelioma. Coty filed a motion for summary judgment, contending that Wittmans’ discovery responses and deposition testimony “demonstrated their inability to prove the claims.” Coty stated that the Wittmans could not show that Barbara was exposed to asbestos through the particular Coty product she had used,…

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Vexing Statute of Repose Question Sent to Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, May 14, 2018

MASSACHUSETTS  — The plaintiffs sued multiple defendants in the United States District Court, District of Massachusetts, alleging that the plaintiffs’ decedent, Wayne Oliver, was exposed to asbestos during the construction of two nuclear power plants.  Defendant General Electric (GE) filed a motion for summary judgment on counts I,II,IX, and X in the plaintiffs’ Third Amended complaint; both parties agreed that the affected counts were governed by the substantive law of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. GE invoked the Massachusetts statute of repose for improvements to real…

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Turbine Manufacturer’s Choice of Law Motion Granted Based on Location of Asbestos Exposure and Diagnosis U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, May 9, 2018

MASSACHUSETTS — Plaintiff Ruth Burleigh, the widow of the plaintiff’s decedent Ernest Burleigh, filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts against numerous defendants alleging that decedent developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos while working as a mechanic at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (the shipyard) from 1960-1981. The shipyard is located in Kittery, Maine, approximately 20 miles from the Massachusetts border. The plaintiff’s decedent alleged exposure to asbestos in Maine only, was a resident of Maine for the…

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Failure to Adopt Safety Measures is Private Conduct That Implicates No Federal Interest U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, May 1, 2018

LOUISIANA — Several former employees of Huntington Ingalls, including Robert Templet, brought suit in Louisiana state court, alleging that the company failed to warn them of the risks of asbestos exposure and failed to implement proper safety procedures for handling asbestos.  Templet worked for Huntington Ingalls from 1968 to 2002 and alleged his handling of asbestos-containing materials at various worksites from 1968-79 caused him to contract mesothelioma. Huntington Ingalls removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under the…

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Claims Against Insulation Supplier Barred By Government Contractor Defense Court of Appeal of California, First District, Division 4, April 19,2018

CALIFORNIA — Plaintiffs Paula Tarjani, Phyllis Newman, and Patsy Rojo, daughters of the plaintiff’s decedent John Ball, brought claims against numerous defendants, alleging that the plaintiff’s decedent was exposed to asbestos while working as a joiner and shipwright from 1965 to 1972.  The plaintiff’s decedent worked at Mare Island aboard the USS Guitarro, USS Hawkbill, USS Pintado, and USS Drum. Defendant Metalclad brokered Unibestos to the United States Navy, and filed a Motion for Summary Judgment, stating that the plaintiffs’ claims were precluded under the…

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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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