Author Archives: Lynn A. Lehnert

Merchant Mariner Plaintiffs’ Allegations Focusing on Vessel Operation — Instead of Vessel Design — Prohibited Removal Under Federal Officer Removal Statute U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Louisiana, October 19, 2015

This is a consolidated case in which various plaintiffs alleged asbestos exposure while working as merchant mariners aboard many different vessels and employers. Each plaintiff also served on at least one Navy ship. The plaintiffs sued their former employers in Louisiana state court under the Jones Act and general maritime law. The defendants removed to federal court, and the district court remanded. The 5th Circuit held that remand was proper. The defendants argued for removal under the Federal Officer Removal Statute, in which actions…

Continue Reading....

Claim Representatives For Filing Bankruptcy Trust Claims Have No Standing To Sue Bankruptcy Trusts For Suspending Claims U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, October 15, 2015

Plaintiff Mandelbrot Law Firm specialized in preparing and filing asbestos personal injury claims  to various bankruptcy trusts. In 2002, one such trust, the Delaware Trusts, suspended all payment of claims from claimants who the plaintiff represented, due to proceedings in California regarding allegedly fraudulent claims filed by the plaintiff.  The plaintiff then filed this declaratory judgment, arguing that this decision was unauthorized and in violation of the Trusts’ distribution procedures, and that he lost fees. The district court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack…

Continue Reading....

Plaintiff’s Failure to Connect Replacement Parts to Pump Manufacturer Key To Upholding Summary Judgment on Appeal United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, October 14, 2015

Plaintiffs Jeffrey Lannes and Kristi Johnson appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Flowserve, Jerguson Gage & Valve, and Warren Pumps. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment. Decedent Vernon Lannes was allegedly exposed to asbestos gaskets, packing, and insulation while serving in the Navy. The court noted that “…the defendants shifted the burden of demonstrating a material issue of fact by ‘pointing out … that there is an absence of evidence to support the [plaintiffs’] case.’” Regarding insulation on Warren Pumps, the…

Continue Reading....

Distinction Between Gloves and Mittens Crucial In Granting Defendant’s Summary Judgment U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, October 9, 2015

Plaintiff Janice Herr alleged that Richard Herr died of mesothelioma due to his use of Airco-distributed, asbestos-containing gloves/mittens. Herr was a sculptor and art instructor who used insulated mittens to handle heated molds. He also used raw asbestos to make molds for his sculptures. Airco never manufactured insulated gloves or mittens, but distributed welding gloves and mittens with its logo. This case was remanded for further proceedings by the MDL 875 Court, after the MDL denied the summary judgment filed by Airco, the sole remaining…

Continue Reading....

Federal Court Grants and Denies Various Summary Judgment Motions, Based on Maritime and Civil Law U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, September 30, 2015

Defendants Crown Cork & Seal, CBS Corporation, General Electric, Crane Co., Gardner Denver, John Crane, Link-Belt Construction Equipment, and Riley Power filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The case had been removed to federal court pursuant to the Federal Officer Removal Statue. The plaintiff alleged he developed pleural mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during Naval service and while employed by Louisville Gas & Electric. Many other defendants moved for summary judgment on other grounds; this case addressed those…

Continue Reading....

Court Applies Admiralty Jurisdiction to Grant Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, September 30, 2015

The plaintiff brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging asbestos exposure while a crew member on two tugboats the Navy leased to his employer, General Dynamics Corporation. The plaintiff also brought a products liability claim under Connecticut law, and his wife brought a loss of consortium claim. The defendant moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under the FTCA, because the lawsuit sounds in admiralty, for which a suit under the Suits in Admiralty Act (SIAA) or the Public Vessels Act…

Continue Reading....

Applying Maritime Law, Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment, Refusing to Speculate on Decedent’s Exposure to Pump Defendant’s Products While in the Navy U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, September 29, 2015

Plaintiff Josephine Fuoco, as executrix of the estate of Joseph Fuoco, alleged that Mr. Fuoco contracted mesothelioma while serving in the U.S. Navy as a machinists’ mate and as a construction worker. Defendant Warren Pumps moved for summary judgment, which the court granted. Warren did not dispute that its circulating pumps were on the USS Ammen, the ship on which Mr. Fuoco served. However, no fact witness offered testimony regarding Mr. Fuoco’s alleged asbestos exposure on board this shop. Warren was added to the…

Continue Reading....

Alabama Supreme Court Reverses Summary Judgment In Favor of Talc Defendant Based on Product Identification, Not Asbestos Content, of Talc Supreme Court of Alabama, September 30, 2015

In this case, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed and remanded the order granting summary judgment to defendant Vanderbilt Minerals. The Supreme Court included a large summary of facts in its opinion. The decedent, Dansby W. Sanders, died from mesothelioma; prior to his passing, he sued numerous defendants alleging he was exposed to asbestos while working for Mobile Paint Company. Vanderbilt supplied industrial talc under the brand name Nytal to Mobile Paint. Various witnesses testified as to the presence of Nytal supplied by Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt responded…

Continue Reading....

Defendant Establishes Colorable Defense Under Federal Law, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 28, 2015

The plaintiff filed this action in Madison County, Illinois, alleging injury due to asbestos exposure. The defendants, CBS and General Electric, removed the action to federal court under federal officer removal statute 28 U.S.C. 1442. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand, which the court denied. The court cited the United States Supreme Court in listing the three elements required to establish a colorable defense to the use-of-asbestos claim: (1) the United States approved reasonably precise specifications; (2) the equipment conformed to those specifications; (3)…

Continue Reading....

Applying Maritime Law, Defendants’ Summary Judgment Motions Denied in Case Alleging U.S. Navy Exposure U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 23, 2015

The plaintiff alleged he developed severe asbestosis as a result of inhaling asbestos while serving in the United States Navy. Three defendants — John Crane, General Electric, and Ingersoll-Rand — moved for summary judgment. In deciding the motion, the court determined whether maritime or Illinois law applied. A plaintiff’s exposure in a products liability claim must meet both a locality test and a connection test in order to apply maritime law. The locality test analyzes whether the tort occurred on navigable water, or, if the…

Continue Reading....