Author Archives: Lynn A. Lehnert

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…

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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…

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Abandonment of Claims Alleging Asbestos Exposure at Government Facilities Eliminated Federal Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, May 31, 2017

Defendant Crane Co. appealed the remand ordered by the district court to New York State Court. Crane had removed based upon the federal officer removal statute. The appellate court affirmed the remand without a summary of the underlying facts. First, Crane argued remand was erroneous because the federal courts had original subject matter jurisdiction. The district court had concluded that the plaintiffs had abandoned any claims arising from asbestos exposure occurring at a government facility; thus, the basis on which this action was originally removed…

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No Jurisdiction over Foreign Auto Manufacturer, But Case Remanded for Consideration of Jurisdictional Discovery Florida District Court of Appeal, Second District May 17, 2017

Plaintiffs Kenneth and Carol Jones filed suit against various defendants after Kenneth Jones developed mesothelioma. Defendant Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft (VWAG) sought review of an interlocutory order denying its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court reversed the trial court’s order and remanded. In its motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, VWAG submitted a supporting affidavit and the court held an evidentiary hearing to determine this issue. The hearing had no testimony and the trial court received nothing into evidence. The trial…

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Summary Judgments Based on Wisconsin Safe Place Statute and Statute of Repose Denied U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin, May 15, 2017

The court issued another decision in a case originally reported in Asbestos Case Tracker on May 15, 2017. Plaintiffs Daniel and Beverly Ahnert originally filed a case in 2010 alleging Daniel Ahnert developed asbestosis; that case was transferred to the MDL of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. In 2013 Beverly Ahnert filed a new case in the Eastern District of Wisconsin after Daniel Ahnert died of asbestos-related diseases. In September 2014, the 2011 case was remanded back to Wisconsin. The plaintiff then moved to consolidate…

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Multi-Million Dollar Jury Verdict Against Ford Vacated Based on Defective Jury Verdict Form Court of Appeals of Tennessee, May 12, 2017

In this secondary exposure case alleging mesothelioma, defendant Ford Motor Company appealed after the jury rendered a verdict against it for $3.4 million. The appellate court vacated the trial court’s judgment on the jury verdict and remanded the case because the jury verdict form was defective, in that it omitted two necessary questions in product liability cases — that the product at issue was unreasonably dangerous or defective and that the plaintiff’s injuries were reasonably foreseeable. Plaintiff Ronnie Stockton was an automobile mechanic since 1971.…

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Deere Granted Summary Judgment Based on Speculation Tractor Contained Asbestos Parts it Manufactured Superior Court of Delaware, May 10, 2017

The Superior Court of Delaware issued another ruling in a case reported in Asbestos Case Tracker on May 15, 2017. In this ruling, the court granted defendant Deere & Company’s motion for summary judgment. The decedent died from lung cancer. Counsel stipulated that his asbestos exposure occurred from 1955-79. Prior to his death, the decedent gave a deposition stating that he worked on “older” John Deere tractors from 1953-79. This work included grinding head gaskets once per year or every other year. Replacement parts came…

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Prior Maryland Rulings Relied Upon in Denying Remand U.S. District Court of Maryland, May 5, 2017

The plaintiffs moved to remand after defendant Crane Co. removed to federal court. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion without oral argument. Decedent John Dugger served in the United States Navy during the 1960s and died of mesothelioma; the plaintiffs filed suit after his death. The plaintiffs alleged Crane manufactured and sold rope and valves to the Navy. Crane removed on the basis of the government contractor defense, and in support submitted affidavits from three individuals. Defendants may remove to federal court if it establishes…

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Coke Ovens are Real Property and Not Subject to Product Liability Theories Supreme Court of the State of New York, May 5, 2017

Defendant Honeywell International, Inc., successor in interest to Wilputte Coke Oven Division of Allied Chemical Corporation, appealed from an order denying its motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff sought damages for injuries sustained by decedent Donald Terwilliger from asbestos exposure and coke oven emissions while employed at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, New York. The court reversed and granted Honeywell’s motion. Honeywell was sued as the successor to Wilputte Coke Oven Division of Allied Chemical, the designer and builder of five coke oven batteries at Bethlehem…

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Plaintiff’s Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Denied with Respect to Two Defendants Superior Court of Rhode Island, April 20, 2017

The plaintiff filed for voluntary dismissal in order to re-file in the State of Pennsylvania. Various defendants had filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Two defendants, Evenheat Kiln and Sargent Art, objected to the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without prejudice. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss with respect to Evenheat and Sargent. The case had progressed through the discovery phase, and the plaintiff was deposed over six days. Evenheat never contested jurisdiction in Rhode Island. After discovery, both Evenheat and…

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