Compound Manufacturer’s Directed Verdict Reversed Appellate Court of Illinois, First District, Second Division, May 9, 2017

The estate of decedent Ronnie Startley filed a complaint against multiple defendants, including Welco Manufacturing Company, alleging that the defendants’ products caused the decedent to contract mesothelioma. All defendants except Welco either were dismissed or settled with plaintiffs prior to trial. Welco proceeded to trial. After trial, the trial court directed a verdict in favor of Welco, holding that there was not sufficient evidence to create an issue of material fact as to whether the use of Welco’s products caused the decedent to develop mesothelioma. The plaintiffs appealed the trial court’s decision to the First District Court of Appeals of Illinois. The decedent worked finishing drywall primarily in Alabama. In 1965, he moved to Illinois with his family and worked with his cousin, Walter Startley, for three or four months ...
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Prior Maryland Rulings Relied Upon in Denying Remand U.S. District Court of Maryland, May 5, 2017

The plaintiffs moved to remand after defendant Crane Co. removed to federal court. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion without oral argument. Decedent John Dugger served in the United States Navy during the 1960s and died of mesothelioma; the plaintiffs filed suit after his death. The plaintiffs alleged Crane manufactured and sold rope and valves to the Navy. Crane removed on the basis of the government contractor defense, and in support submitted affidavits from three individuals. Defendants may remove to federal court if it establishes (1) the defendant is either a federal officer or acting under a federal officer; (2) a “colorable” federal defense to the plaintiff’s claims; and (3) the suit is for an act under color of office, which requires a causal nexus between the charged conduct and ...
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Coke Ovens are Real Property and Not Subject to Product Liability Theories Supreme Court of the State of New York, May 5, 2017

Defendant Honeywell International, Inc., successor in interest to Wilputte Coke Oven Division of Allied Chemical Corporation, appealed from an order denying its motion for summary judgment. The plaintiff sought damages for injuries sustained by decedent Donald Terwilliger from asbestos exposure and coke oven emissions while employed at Bethlehem Steel in Lackawanna, New York. The court reversed and granted Honeywell’s motion. Honeywell was sued as the successor to Wilputte Coke Oven Division of Allied Chemical, the designer and builder of five coke oven batteries at Bethlehem Steel. Honeywell argued that the coke oven batteries were not products for purposes of product liability theories, and the transaction between Wilputte and Bethlehem was one for services, not goods. Prior case law concluded, with regards to coke oven batteries, that by common-law standards these ...
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Missouri Appeals Court Affirms $10M Punitive Damage Award Against Valve Manufacturer Missouri Court of Appeals, Eastern District, May 2, 2017

Jeannette G. Poage, the plaintiff, filed a products liability suit against defendant Crane Co. in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, alleging that her husband, James E. Poage, suffered personal injuries and wrongful death from mesothelioma, which was caused from Mr. Poage’s work with the defendant’s products. Mr. Poage served in the U.S. Navy from 1954-58 as a machinist on the USS Haynesworth where he helped maintain the valves on the ship that required replacing gaskets and packing. The plaintiff alleged that some of these valves, gaskets, and/or packing contained asbestos and were manufactured by the defendant. The plaintiff asserted both strict liability and negligence claims arguing that Mr. Poage’s work with the defendant’s products caused him to inhale asbestos dust, which subsequently caused his mesothelioma, and ...
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Jury Verdict Returned in Favor of Boiler Defendant Despite a Finding of Product Exposure and Negligence in Mesothelioma Case Supreme Court of New York, New York County, May 3, 2017

The Evans matter involved an 87 year deceased mesothelioma claimant.  All defendants resolved prior to trial with the exception of Burnham Corporation.  After a 2 ½ week trial before Judge Moulton, the jury returned a defense verdict for Burnham, finding that there was exposure to asbestos from a Burnham product, and that Burnham was negligent, but that Burnham’s negligence was not a substantial contributing factor to Mr. Evan’s mesothelioma.
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$3M Judgment Affirmed Finding Sufficient Evidence to Show Specific Causation Against Cement Supplier Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Dept., April 28, 2017

On March 22, 2017, in the Supreme Court of New York, Oneida County, a $3M judgment was awarded to plaintiff Nicholas Dominick for injuries sustained due to exposure to asbestos associated with the defendants’ products. The defendants appealed from the judgment entered upon a jury verdict finding the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from products supplied by the defendants, that they failed to exercise reasonable care by not providing a warning about the hazards of exposure to asbestos with respect to their products, and that their failure to warn was a substantial contributing factor in causing the plaintiff’s injuries. The Appellate Division, Fourth Judicial Department, heard the appeal, and found the evidence was sufficient to establish that asbestos in products the defendants supplied was a substantial factor in causing or ...
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Employer Found to Have Duty to Prevent Reasonably Foreseeable Injuries in Take-Home Exposure Case U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, April 26, 2017

Barbara Bobo was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma in 2011. Her husband, James Bobo, worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) from 1975-1997 as a laborer and labor foreman, primarily at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, Alabama. Mr. Bobo was previously diagnosed with asbestos-induced lung cancer but passed away from a heart attack in 1997. Mrs. Bobo passed away in 2013 from mesothelioma, and prior to her death, she filed a lawsuit against TVA and eight other defendants alleging “take-home” asbestos exposure, from when she washed her husband’s work clothes over the years, caused her illness. After Mrs. Bobo passed away, the court substituted her two daughters, serving as personal representatives of the estate, as plaintiffs. The case ultimately went to trial against TVA only on a negligence ...
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Plaintiff’s Motion to Voluntarily Dismiss Denied with Respect to Two Defendants Superior Court of Rhode Island, April 20, 2017

The plaintiff filed for voluntary dismissal in order to re-file in the State of Pennsylvania. Various defendants had filed motions to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. Two defendants, Evenheat Kiln and Sargent Art, objected to the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss without prejudice. The court denied the plaintiff’s motion to dismiss with respect to Evenheat and Sargent. The case had progressed through the discovery phase, and the plaintiff was deposed over six days. Evenheat never contested jurisdiction in Rhode Island. After discovery, both Evenheat and Sargent filed motions for summary judgment for lack of product identification. Prior to hearing on these motions, and prior to filing any response, the plaintiff filed the motion to dismiss. Both defendants argued the motion to dismiss was improper due to: (1) the defendants’ effort ...
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NYCAL Court Denies Motion in Limine to Preclude Plaintiff’s Causation Experts Supreme Court of New York, New York County, April 14. 2017

The court issued further rulings in a case previously reported in Asbestos Case Tracker on April 12, 2017. This case involved plaintiff Frederick Evans’ alleged exposure to asbestos-containing dust from his work as an HVAC mechanic from 1955-59. Although the defendants submitted a joint omnibus motion in limine, the only defendant remaining at trial was Burnham LLC. Here, the motion in limine to exclude the causation opinions of the plaintiffs’ experts Dr. Carl Brodkin and Dr. John Maddox was denied. Burnham argued the plaintiffs’ causation experts would offer a scientifically unsupportable causation opinion based upon the “each and every exposure” theory. Burnham cited to case law finding that “[i]t is well-established that an opinion on causation should set forth a plaintiff’s exposure to a toxin, that the toxin is capable ...
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Upon Reconsideration, Finding of Jurisdiction Reversed Due to Missouri Supreme Court Ruling in State ex rel. Norfolk S. Ry. Co. v. Dolan U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, April 21, 2017

The plaintiffs were the special representative of the decedent, Berj Hovsepian, a civilian employee of the Navy from 1958-64 who died of mesothelioma. Originally filed in the City of St. Louis, Missouri, it was removed to federal court where defendant CBS Corporation filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. After the motion was denied, CBS moved to reconsider due to a change in controlling law. The court reconsidered and reversed its ruling, holding no personal jurisdiction existed over CBS. Motions to reconsider were not “vehicle(s) to identify facts or legal arguments that could have been, but were not, raised at the time the relevant motion was pending.” However, here CBS urged the court to reconsider due to a change in controlling law. After the court issued its ...
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