Author Archives: Lynn A. Lehnert

Seattle Jury Renders Enormous Verdict Against NAPA Washington Superior Court, Washington, April 18, 2017

A Seattle, Washington jury reached a unanimous verdict against NAPA/Genuine parts after 5.5 hours of deliberation. The plaintiffs alleged the decedent, Doy Coogan, developed peritoneal mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from brake shoes, bulk brake bands, gaskets, packing, and clutches, distributed and sold by NAPA. Although punitive damages were not requested, the jury’s verdict exceeded $80 million. The jury applied pre-1981 law in awarding a total of $81.5 million for the plaintiffs. The decedent Doy Coogan was awarded $30 million; his wife of four years,…

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North Dakota Joins States Enacting Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Transparency Legislation

On April 14, 2017, North Dakota became the third state this year to enact legislation mandating disclosure of asbestos bankruptcy trust claims. The new legislation requires plaintiffs to provide, within thirty days after an asbestos action is filed, a sworn statement from both plaintiff and counsel stating that all asbestos trust claims have been made. Plaintiffs must also provide parties with all trust claim materials, which are admissible in evidence. Supplementation is required, and failure to comply may result in dismissal of the case by…

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Required Use of Asbestos Products for Proper Functioning of Steam Turbines Created Genuine Issue of Material Fact Regarding Duty to Warn Court of Appeals of Washington, April 3, 2017

The decedent served in the Navy from 1943-46 and served as a machinist on the USS George K. MacKenzie during World War II. After the war, he joined the Military Sea Transportation Service and worked as an engineer until 1952. His representatives filed a wrongful death lawsuit after he died from mesothelioma, suing, among others, General Electric. The trial court granted GE’s motion for summary judgment, and the appellate court reversed. GE designed, manufactured, and supplied the steam turbines that were on board the decedent’s…

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John Crane Fails to Establish Personal Jurisdiction against Plaintiff’s Firm in Fraud Complaint Filed in Federal Court U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, March 23, 2017

John Crane, Inc. (JCI) filed suit against Benjamin Shein and the Shein Law Center (the defendant) for fraud, alleging that the defendant fraudulently obtained settlements with and verdicts against JCI by misrepresenting the exposure of asbestos plaintiffs to JCI’s products and concealing the plaintiffs’ exposure to products of other manufacturers. The complaint focused on four specific asbestos cases filed against JCI in Pennsylvania in which verdicts were rendered against JCI. It alleged specific behavior done by the defendants, such as delaying filing claims with bankruptcy…

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Rhode Island Court Applies Maine Law to Deny Summary Judgment to Insulation Contractor Superior Court of Rhode Island, March 13, 2017

The laintiffs alleged negligence and breach of warranty based upon asbestos exposure sustained by dececdent during his work at various job sites through the Laborer’s Union from 1969-1990. Defendant New England Insulation Company (NEI) filed a motion for summary judgment based upon various theories, which the court denied. During his deposition, the decedent testified that he worked as a laborer for general contractors at job sites in Maine.  From 1973-1976 he worked at International Paper Mill around other trades, such as pipefitters and insulators. His…

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Plaintiffs Presented Sufficient Evidence to Withstand Motion for Directed Verdict Appellate Court of Illinois, March 14, 2017

The decedent’s estate filed a claim alleging asbestos exposure caused decedent to develop mesothelioma. The trial court directed a verdict in favor of Welco Manufacturing Company because no witnesses could specify how often the decedent used Welco’s products. The plaintiffs appealed, and the appellate court reversed and remanded for a new trial. The decedent’s cousin, Walter, testified that he and the decedent applied joint compound on close to 50 commercial and residential sites for four months in Illinois in 1965. Walter testified they used, among…

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South Dakota Enacts Legislation Allowing Transparency in Bankruptcy Trust Claims

An ongoing issue in asbestos litigation is whether plaintiffs have received monies from bankruptcy trusts. The plaintiff’s bar has traditionally fought discovery of this information, but recently South Dakota became the first state to enact legislation regarding this issue.  Senate Bill No. 138 recommends amending the code to order plaintiffs to identify any asbestos trust claims filed by them not more than one hundred and twenty days before trial. Such identification shall include: information about the trust claim itself; the amount claimed, or to be…

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Case Remanded to Florida State Court Because Defendant Not Fraudulently Joined to Defeat Diversity U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, March 10, 2017

In this case alleging asbestos exposure from talc, mesothelioma plaintiff filed a motion to remand back to Florida state court after defendant Johnson & Johnson removed to federal court based upon diversity jurisdiction. The defendant argued that the plaintiff fraudulently joined defendant Publix Super Markets, Inc. (Publix) to destroy diversity. The court determined Publix was not fraudulently joined and remanded. In determining remand, the court must evaluate the factual allegations in the light most favorable to the plaintiff. If there is even a possibility that…

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Collateral Estoppel Applied to Bar Second Asbestos Case Against Crane by Same Plaintiff U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, March 8, 2017

The decedent, a civilian employee for the United States Navy from 1958-1964, died from mesothelioma. Prior to passing he brought suit in St. Louis City, Missouri, in December 2015, which the defendants removed to federal court. His representatives continued the suit after he passed. Defendant Crane Co. filed a motion to dismiss based upon collateral estoppel. The court granted this motion. In December 2009, the decedent brought an action against Crane and others in Massachusetts based upon asbestosis. Crane filed a motion for summary judgment…

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Laws of Two States Applied to Two Different Issues U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, March 6, 2017

The plaintiff alleged the decedent, who died of mesothelioma, was exposed to asbestos while serving as an engineman, machinery repairman, and machinist mate in the U.S. Navy during the 1960s. Although the majority of the decedent’s exposure occurred on four ships, to which maritime law applied, the plaintiff also alleged exposure during the six months decedent trained at a land-based naval academy in Idaho. Here the court decided whether Idaho or Louisiana applied to this six-month time frame. The plaintiff argued Louisiana law applied, and…

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