Category Archives: Illinois

Court Upholds Verdict in FELA Matter in Face of Limitations Argument But Vacates Damages Award and Remands Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, October 18, 2016

In this negligence actions brought under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, affirmed the jury’s verdict against defendant Illinois Central Railroad Company (Central) but vacated the award of damages and remanded for a new damages hearing. In 2003, Paul McGowan was diagnosed with lung cancer and died. In December 2008, his estate filed a 13-count complaint seeking damages from various defendants as a result of Mr. McGowan’s lung cancer and death. Count IV of the complaint was for…

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No Harm No Foul in Asbestos Product Liability Action With Physical Injury

In a recent decision out of an Illinois appellate court, it was held that physical injury does not always equate to compensable physical harm. In the case of Sondag v. Pneumo Abex Corp., et al, the plaintiffs, Joseph and Phyllis Sondag, sued various defendants they claimed exposed Joseph Sondag to asbestos, which lead to his developing pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant Tremco, Inc. manufactured asbestos containing tape that was used by Joseph as a professional plasterer. The case…

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Insulation Found to be Integral to Turbine as Court Grants Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Statute of Repose U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, July 21, 2016

The plaintiff brought this action against defendants, including Westinghouse, for Earl Norberg, her decedent’s, alleged development of lung cancer as a result of his work around asbestos containing products while working at the Joliet and Romeoville Power stations. The plaintiff’s fact witness was Mr. Norberg’s brother, Howard, who recalled that he and the plaintiff worked at Joliet Power Station from 1963-65 and again in the mid-1970s. Specifically, he testified that workers were insulating a turbine at Unit 9 while Units 7 and 8 were being…

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Meeting Agendas Between Non-Party Consultant and Counsel for Asbestos Friction Clients Not Privileged Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District, June 30, 2016

The plaintiffs’ law firm of Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd, LLC (Maune) subpoenaed documents from Exponent, Inc., a non-party in Maune’s asbestos litigation pending in Madison County, Illinois. At the request of Exponent, the circuit court held Exponent in friendly civil contempt for refusing to provide an unredacted version of certain documents requested in Maune’s subpoena. Exponent appealed this contempt order as well as the underlying discovery order. Exponent argued that the circuit court abused its discretion in requiring production of these documents, because…

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Distinction Between Physical Harm and Physical Injury Key in Reversal of Trial Court’s Denial of Directed Verdict Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, June 20, 2016

The plaintiffs sued defendant Tremco, Inc. alleging asbestos exposure from tape used in the plaintiff’s profession as a plasterer. The plaintiffs alleged the development of pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, and Tremco appealed. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment, finding that the court should have granted Tremco’s motion for directed verdict because the plaintiff did not suffer any physical harm. At trial plaintiff testified that he worked as a plasterer from 1957-1983, and used Tremco…

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Despite Satisfying Foreseeability, Illinois Federal Court Finds No Duty in Secondary Take Home Exposure Case U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, March 10, 2016

The plaintiff filed an action for negligence in Illinois state court, alleging she contracted mesothelioma through “take home” exposure from her son, who used asbestos friction paper while working as a mechanic. The defendants removed to federal court based on diversity. Defendant MW Custom Papers LLC, as successor-in-interest to Mead Corporation, filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, arguing it did not owe her a duty. The court granted the motion. First, MW argued the plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts as to foreseeability. The court…

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Southern District of Illinois Strikes Portions of Pre-Trial Disclosures Containing Vague, Boilerplate Language; Parties Have No Right to Reserve Use of Un-Named Discovery U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, February 12, 2016

In four different rulings in the same case, the Southern District of Illinois struck portions of pre-trial disclosures filed by the plaintiff and various defendants. In their pre-trial disclosures, defendants Ingersoll-Rand, Viking Pumps, and Excelsior identified no witnesses and reserved the right to call numerous un-named witnesses at trial. The plaintiff also reserved the right to call numerous un-named witnesses at trial. The court cited Rule 26: “Under Rule 26(a)(3), pretrial disclosures must (emphasis added) include: ‘(i) the name and, if not previously provided, the…

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Bankruptcy Stay Lifted Against Defendant/Debtor to Allow Plaintiffs to Pursue State Law Claims U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, February 10, 2016

In this case, the defendant that used asbestos in some of its production while in business filed chapter 11. There remained 123 claims against the defendant and the defendant’s proposed chapter 11 plan stated that the “liability issues will pass through the bankruptcy and be tried in non-bankruptcy courts having jurisdiction.” The defendant objected to the Asbestos Committee’s motion to lift the automatic stay, arguing the stay should remain in place pending plan confirmation. In its analysis, the court applied the Fernstrom three-part balancing test…

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Gasket Manufacturers’ Motions for Summary Judgment and Motion to Change Venue Denied in Naval Exposure Case U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 28, 2016

In this federal court case, the plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos in various products through the course of his employment in the 1960s and 1970s. He specifically alleged asbestos exposure from working with gaskets manufactured by Excelsior Packing & Gasket Company and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company while serving in the Navy from 1970 to 1975 aboard the U.S.S. Surfbird and U.S.S. Hector. On both ships, the plaintiff’s duties included replacing gaskets on pumps, valves, and boilers. He testified to changing flange gaskets…

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District Court Grants Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction Due to Plaintiffs’ Failure to Respond to These Motions U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 19, 2016

Defendants General Electric, Ingersoll-Rand, and CBS Corporation moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The plaintiff failed to respond to any of these motions. The court cited Local Rule 7.1(c) in using its discretion to construe this failure to file a timely response as an admission of the merits of the motion. “Here, Defendants are not incorporated nor maintain their principal place of business in Illinois.  Further, Defendants’ affiliations with Illinois are not ‘so continuous and systematic’ as to render Defendants at home in Illinois. …

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