Category Archives: Illinois

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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Valve Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment under Maritime Law Based on Lack of Causation U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 5, 2016

In this federal court action, it is alleged that the decedent, Richard Bell, was exposed to asbestos during his service in the Navy where he served on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1961 to 1962. Velan Valve Corp. moved for summary judgment asserting maritime law. The plaintiff did not oppose the application of maritime law. The court went on to analyze the application of maritime law and found it applied in the case. The court then went on to grant Velan summary judgment, stating…

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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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Railroad Company Obtains Summary Judgment on Appeal Based on Inadmissible Expert Report Supreme Court of Mississippi, December 10, 2015

The plaintiff in this case brought a wrongful death action against the Illinois Central Railroad Company pursuant to the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) for the death of her husband, Charles Jackson, Jr., who had worked on the railroad. Illinois Central’s motions for summary judgment, to strike the plaintiff’s expert, Michael J. Ellenbecker, were denied. Illinois Central’s petition for an interlocutory appeal was granted. In its review, the court found that Ellenbecker’s opinions submitted in opposition of the motion for summary judgment was inadmissible since…

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