Author Archives: Susan E. Van Gelder

Post-Bankruptcy Petition Malignancy Claim Not “Sufficiently Rooted” in Pre-Bankruptcy Past to Constitute Property of the Estate U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, January 29, 2016

In a follow-up to cases previously reported on in ACT, the plaintiffs in this case, Administrators of the Estate of Bjorn Dahl, alleged that the decedent, Mr. Dahl, was exposed to asbestos while working aboard various ships. The plaintiffs assert that the decedent developed two asbestos-related illnesses, a non-malignancy injury dating back to 1995 and a malignancy claim arising in 1997, as a result of his exposure to asbestos aboard those ships. In 1995, Mr. Dahl brought claims for non-malignant asbestos-related disease. Mr. Dahl’s…

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Court Lacks Specific Jurisdiction Where Complaint is Devoid of Allegations that Injury Arose Out of Defendants’ Contacts with State U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 6, 2016

The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that John Clark was exposed to asbestos from the defendants’ products while serving in the U.S. Air Force and during his employment at McDonald Douglas and Boeing. Multiple defendants made motions to dismiss, arguing that the District Court lacked jurisdiction over them. The plaintiffs failed to file timely responses to any of the motions and the court used it is discretion to construe the plaintiffs’ failure to do so as an admission of the merits of the motion. In granting the…

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Post-Trial Motion for Additur Granted, Increasing Mesothelioma Pain and Suffering Damages Supreme Court of New York, December 18, 2015

The plaintiff’s decedent, Richard Voelker, was diagnosed with and died from mesothelioma. A personal injury action was pursued and resulted in a verdict awarding the Estate various damages, including a pain and suffering award of $250,000. The plaintiff filed a post-trial motion for additur arguing that the jury’s award for pain and suffering was inadequate compensation for Mr. Voelker’s “extraordinarily horrific” suffering. The court granted the motion, increasing the pain and suffering award to $600,000. The court cited to the plaintiff’s video trial testimony and…

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Plaintiff’s Failure to Accurately Identify Brand Name of Insulation Product During Deposition Results in Summary Judgment for Manufacturer U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, December 3, 2015

The plaintiff alleges he contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos-containing products while working as a cleaner at New York Shipbuilding and Drydock Company in Camden, New Jersey, and as a rigger at Sun Ship Yard in Chester, Pennsylvania. The plaintiff testified that he was exposed to asbestos-containing insulation and the only insulation manufacturers identified by the plaintiff were Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corporation and Johns-Manville. During his deposition, the plaintiff was shown the Owens-Illinois “Kaylo” insulation label and testified that he did not…

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Former NY Assemblyman Sheldon Silver Convicted On All Seven Corruption Charges

Following a five week trial and after two jurors asked to be excused during jury deliberations, former New York Assemblyman Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven corruption charges arising from two deals that netted him approximately $4 million in kickbacks. One deal involved the transfer of $500,000 in State funds to Silver’s friend, Dr. Robert Taub at Columbia University for cancer research. In exchange for these funds, Dr. Taub referred mesothelioma patients to Weitz & Luxenberg, who in turn paid Mr. Silver for the…

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Plaintiff’s Reliance on Precluded Expert Report Results in Dismissal of Action U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, Newport News Division, November 19, 2015

The plaintiff brought this case alleging that his asbestosis and mesothelioma was caused by asbestos exposure during his employment with United States Navy. Several defendants were dismissed from the action, leaving electrical component manufacturer, Westinghouse as the sole remaining defendant, against whom plaintiff claimed exposure to asbestos from arc chutes contained in Westinghouse electrical products. Prior to the current motion for summary judgment, Westinghouse served several motions seeking to preclude certain portions of plaintiff’s proof, including the expert report and opinion of the plaintiff’s causation…

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Sheldon Silver Corruption Trial Ongoing with Testimony from Weitz & Luxenberg Attorneys

Jury selection has been completed and trial testimony is ongoing in the corruption trial against State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. Prosecutors allege, among other things, that Silver, who had previously been on the payroll at Weitz & Luxenberg, funneled state funds to Dr. Robert Taub of Columbia University for cancer research in exchange for referrals of mesothelioma patients to Weitz & Luxenberg, which then paid Silver for the patient referrals. Jury selection started in early November and the panel originally consisted of nine women and…

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Co-Defendant’s Bankruptcy Filing Did Not Result In A “Certain and Final Dismissal” For Purposes Of Removal Under Diversity Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, November 10, 2015

The plaintiff and his wife commenced this action in Louisiana state court, alleging that his mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to several asbestos-containing products, including products supplied by various Louisiana companies. At the time of commencement, diversity jurisdiction did not exist and the action was therefore not removable to federal court. Several defendants settled, leaving defendants Foster Wheeler and Eagle as the only remaining defendants.  oster Wheeler is a diverse company for purposes of removal, Eagle is not. Eagle filed for bankruptcy during the…

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Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment, Holding a Shipbuilder is a Service Provider, Not a Seller of a Product U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, October 8, 2015

The plaintiffs alleged that Glenn Hassebrock was exposed to asbestos while working as a union pipefitter at various shipyards.  The defendant shipbuilding company moved for partial summary judgment, seeking dismissal of the products liability claims on the grounds that the company acted predominantly as a service provider, rather than a distributor of asbestos-containing products.  The court agreed, finding that the shipbuilding company “was not in the chain of manufacturing and selling asbestos related products, rather it was providing the service of producing Navy vessels.  The…

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After Supplier Defaulted Through Nonappearance, Court Awarded Damages In Unopposed Proceeding Supreme Court of New York, Erie County, Eighth Judicial District, October 9, 2015

An Erie County, New York court has issued a decision on damages in a default action where damages and liability were uncontested following a two-day bench trial in an asbestos case involving Joseph Muir, a 58-year-old man living with mesothelioma.  Defendant Hedman Resources, Ltd. was the only remaining defendant. Hedman had been served with  the summons and complaint pursuant to alternative service granted by the court two years earlier. Hedman never appeared in the action and was in default at the time of the trial.…

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