Author Archives: Scott J. McDowell

Plaintiff’s FELA Claim Against Railroad Survives Limitations Challenge Supreme Court of Montana, November 14, 2017

MONTANA — The plaintiff worked for Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Corporation (BNSF) and claimed exposure to amphibole containing vermiculite in that capacity as BNSF transported vermiculite for W.R. Grace. The plaintiff filed suit against BNSF for his asbestos related disease under FELA. The trial court granted summary judgment for the defendant and the plaintiff appealed. Prior to the suit, W.R. Grace filed for bankruptcy protection in 2001. A temporary restraining order (TRO) was immediately issued prohibiting any suits against third parties arising from…

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Bestwall LLC Seeks Bankruptcy Protection

Bestwall LLC, a unit of Georgia Pacific, sought bankruptcy protection under U.S. Chapter 11 early Thursday morning. Bestwall LLC filed the petition as a result of towering costs associated with defending asbestos claims around the nation. The filing comes during a period of time in which both state and federal lawmakers ponder proposals to curb asbestos claims. A company statement indicated that Georgia Pacific is unaffected by the filing.…

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Plaintiff’s Failure to Establish Causation and Lack of Opposition Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky, October 27, 2017

KENTUCKY — Rojelio Surita brought this action against several defendants alleging his decedent, Nancy Surita, developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos containing products for which Defendants were liable. Nancy Surita gave deposition testimony stating that she assisted in brake jobs on the family farm while growing up in Illinois. She also recalled maintenance on vehicles while serving in the National Guard. Later she testified as to working on military trucks. Although she recalled Caterpillar as the manufacturer of the transmissions, she testified that she did…

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Reversal of $72 Million Ovarian Cancer/Talc Verdict on Jurisdiction May Lead to Fewer Asbestos Filings in Missouri Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, October 17, 2017

MISSOURI — In a case that could lead to fewer asbestos filings in Missouri, Johnson and Johnson successfully argued that the trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over it after a $72 million dollar plaintiff verdict in an ovarian cancer / talc case. Plaintiff Jacqueline Fox was one of 65 plaintiffs who filed suit against Johnson and Johnson (J and J) and Imerys Talc. J and J is a New Jersey resident and Imerys is a Delaware corporation. Both were sued in Missouri. The plaintiffs alleged…

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Standard Based Approach in Bare Metal Defense Permits Sailors to Recover in Negligence U.S. Court of Appeals, Third Circuit, October 3, 2017

The plaintiffs filed suit in negligence and strict liability against several defendants arguing their decedents died from mesotheliomas as a result of their exposure to asbestos containing products for which defendants were responsible. Both plaintiffs alleged exposure while working on-board naval vessels. The defendants removed the case to federal court and summary judgment was granted in their favor on the bare metal defense. The plaintiff separately appealed on the issues of negligence. The appeal was remanded to sort out the negligence issue against the backdrop…

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Summary Judgment Granted Where Worker’s Compensation Act Bars Plaintiff’s Claims U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina, September 29, 2017

NORTH CAROLINA — Plaintiffs filed suit against Alcatel Lucent, as successor in interest to Western Electric and Bell Labs (Alcatel), alleging Mr. Moore developed mesothelioma as a result of his work as a cable puller from 1965-95. Alcatel moved for summary judgment, arguing that the North Carolina Worker’s Compensation Act (Act) prohibited the plaintiffs’ claims. The plaintiffs opposed summary judgment and took the position that the exception laid down by the court in Woodson applied. The court’s analysis began with the standard for summary judgment.…

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Application of § 5 of Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) for Releases Remains Clear as Mud

Two plaintiffs in two jurisdictions bargain for settlement in asbestos related claims. Both agree to take money in exchange for a release of all future claims. Both later develop new diseases and sue the same defendant again. Only this time, one court finds the release unenforceable and the other court dismisses the complaint. No doubt the split that exists in federal circuits applying § 5 of FELA is confusing and remains fact intensive. The two predominant rules are found in Babbitt v. Norfolk & Western

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Court’s Refusal to Exercise Supplemental Jurisdiction Over Dismissed Defendant Leads to Remand U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, September 18, 2017

LOUISIANA — The plaintiff filed this action against several defendants, including Industrial Development Corporation of South Africa, Limited (IDC), alleging he developed lung cancer from exposure to asbestos containing products for which the defendants were responsible. Immediately after the suit was filed, the plaintiff moved to dismiss claims against IDC. A co-defendant stevedoring company filed a third party complaint for contribution and/or indemnification against IDC before the court ruled on the pending motion to dismiss. IDC then removed the case to federal court. The plaintiffs…

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Plaintiff Awarded Attorneys’ Fees and Costs for Improper Removal U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, September 15, 2017

WASHINGTON — Plaintiff Barbadin filed suit against defendants including Scapa Dryer Fabrics and AstenJohnsten, Inc. (defendants) alleging exposure to asbestos containing products for which the defendants were responsible. Scapa removed the matter on April 17, 2017.  The plaintiff quickly moved for remand and sought fees and costs. The court noted that it had previously remanded this case one time. The court concluded that Scapa had taken “inconsistent positions in an effort to keep this action in federal court” and used “untenable arguments.” The court also…

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Collateral Estoppel Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment for Pump Manufacturer U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, September 11, 2017

MISSOURI — The plaintiffs filed suit in Missouri against multiple defendants including Buffalo Pumps, arguing that their decedent, Berj Hovsepian, developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos containing products for which the defendants were responsible. The case was removed to the U.S. District Court. Prior to filing the Missouri suit, the plaintiffs filed suit against Buffalo in Massachusetts asserting very similar allegations. Buffalo moved for summary judgment in the Massachusetts case. The motion was granted as unopposed. In the instant matter, Buffalo moved…

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