Automotive Manufacturer Had No Duty to Warn Regarding Third Party Replacement Parts Supreme Court of Delaware, April 21, 2017

The plaintiffs alleged Ford Motor Company was negligent in failing to warn decedent of the dangers posed by servicing asbestos brake parts in Ford vehicles. The decedent was a mechanic who died of mesothelioma. Ford moved for summary judgment, arguing that Ford had no duty to warn about asbestos replacement brake parts made by third parties, and the plaintiffs failed to produce evidence that decedent was exposed to Ford asbestos brake parts. The trial court ruled that Ford had no duty to warn about third party replacement parts, but denied the remainder of the motion. After a jury trial verdict in favor of Ford, the plaintiffs appealed the summary judgment ruling that Ford had no duty to warn regarding third party suppliers. The appellate court affirmed. The plaintiffs argued Ford ...
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Boiler Manufacturer Granted New Trial Due to Plaintiff’s Counsel’s Comments in Closing Arguments Court of Appeals of Iowa, April 19, 2017

Defendant Weil McLain appealed the jury’s award of damages and punitive damages to plaintiffs to the Iowa Court of Appeals. The appeal stems from the death of Larry Kinseth as a result of his alleged exposure to asbestos containing products. Mr. Kinseth worked in the heating and plumbing industry beginning in 1957. As part of his work, he tore out old boilers and installed new boilers, both in residential and commercial applications. At the time, Mr. Kinseth was working in the heating and plumbing industry, boiler manufacturers sealed their products with asbestos as it was a fire retardant, and Mr. Kinseth was exposed to asbestos dust. Some of the boilers Mr. Kinseth installed were manufactured by Weil-McLain. In the pre-trial conference, the court granted Weil-McLain’s motion in limine and ruled ...
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Seattle Jury Renders Enormous Verdict Against NAPA Washington Superior Court, Washington, April 18, 2017

A Seattle, Washington jury reached a unanimous verdict against NAPA/Genuine parts after 5.5 hours of deliberation. The plaintiffs alleged the decedent, Doy Coogan, developed peritoneal mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from brake shoes, bulk brake bands, gaskets, packing, and clutches, distributed and sold by NAPA. Although punitive damages were not requested, the jury’s verdict exceeded $80 million. The jury applied pre-1981 law in awarding a total of $81.5 million for the plaintiffs. The decedent Doy Coogan was awarded $30 million; his wife of four years, Gerri Sue Coogan, received $30 million. Each of the two adult daughters received $10 million. Finally, the jury awarded $1.5 million for non-economic damages in the form of household services. The trial lasted 12 weeks. Experts testifying on behalf of the plaintiffs included: Dr. Arnold ...
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North Dakota Joins States Enacting Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Transparency Legislation

On April 14, 2017, North Dakota became the third state this year to enact legislation mandating disclosure of asbestos bankruptcy trust claims. The new legislation requires plaintiffs to provide, within thirty days after an asbestos action is filed, a sworn statement from both plaintiff and counsel stating that all asbestos trust claims have been made. Plaintiffs must also provide parties with all trust claim materials, which are admissible in evidence. Supplementation is required, and failure to comply may result in dismissal of the case by the court. Further, defendants may request a stay of the proceedings if defendants believe plaintiffs have additional trust claims. If plaintiffs file a trust claim after obtaining a judgment, the trial court has jurisdiction to adjust the judgment by the amount of subsequent asbestos trust ...
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Bare Metal Defense Rebuts Plaintiffs’ Causation Argument for Majority of Industrial Equipment Manufactures U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin, April 12, 2017

Patricia Carroll, as special administrator of Ronald Carroll’s estate, sued numerous manufacturers of industrial equipment in which asbestos replacement parts were used, manufacturers of asbestos, or both in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin. The claims against the defendants arise from the time Mr. Carroll spent working at Wisconsin Power & Light (WP&L) from 1959 to 1974. Mr. Carroll worked in a variety of different jobs WP&L’s plants during that period of time, including plant helper, auxiliary equipment operator, and boiler operator. The majority of the plaintiffs’ facts derive from deposition testimony of three of the decedent’s coworkers. The testimony of the coworkers alleged that all of the valves that were worked on were made of asbestos, regardless of their size. They also testified that the decedent ...
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Defendants’ Motion in Limine Denied on Multiple Issues; Including Regulatory Materials, Past Conduct, MAS Studies and Expert Testimony Based on Animal Studies Supreme Court of New York, New York County, April 5, 2017

The plaintiff filed this action against several defendants alleging his asbestos related disease was caused by products for which the defendants were liable. Mr. Evans worked as a cable puller for Western Electric from 1946-48, as a grounds man and lineman for Queens Gas and Electric from 1948-52, as an HVAC worker for multiple employers from 1952-63 and again in a mechanic and supervisory role from 1965-68 at residential and commercial sites. He also claimed potential bystander exposure from residential jobs including roofing, flooring, ceiling, door, plaster work, and from trades working on boilers in his vicinity. The defendants filed an omnibus motion in limine to preclude 1) improper specific causation 2) argument or evidence of statements made by government agencies or regulations concerning asbestos 3) evidence or argument of ...
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Roofing Cement Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment Based on Insufficient Evidence of Exposure Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle, April 4, 2017

Plaintiffs Henry Stowers and his wife Laura Stowers filed suit in the Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle County, alleging that Henry Stowers was exposed to asbestos from various defendants’ products which caused his lung cancer. Stowers, as the plaintiffs’ sole product identification witness, testified that between 1985-87, Stowers was a self-employed roofer. His work included building cabinets and removing/placing old shingles on roofs with new ones. Stowers stated that the new shingles were made by Owens-Corning and Heritage but he was aware of the manufacturer of the roof felt he used. He also did not know the manufacturer of the old roof materials he removed. He stated that he used Bird roofing cement around the openings of pipes that came through the roof. He applied the cement with a ...
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Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment on Failure to Warn Claims U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, April 4, 2017

Plaintiff Gail Hart, executor of the estate of the decedent Alva Coykendall (the plaintiff), filed suit alleging that her husband worked with a substantial amount of asbestos-containing brake and clutch friction materials manufactured by various defendants. Prior to his death, Coykendall was deposed and testified that he did work as an uncertified mechanic from approximately 1972 through 2014. Coykendall further specified he performed work on brakes and clutches which included exposure to brake dust when working on vehicles that did not require a full brake change. Coykendall estimated to changing clutches on vehicles between “one hundred and twenty and one thousand times.” He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in July 2014 and passed away eight months later. Several defendants filed for summary judgment on the basis of, among other things, that ...
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Required Use of Asbestos Products for Proper Functioning of Steam Turbines Created Genuine Issue of Material Fact Regarding Duty to Warn Court of Appeals of Washington, April 3, 2017

The decedent served in the Navy from 1943-46 and served as a machinist on the USS George K. MacKenzie during World War II. After the war, he joined the Military Sea Transportation Service and worked as an engineer until 1952. His representatives filed a wrongful death lawsuit after he died from mesothelioma, suing, among others, General Electric. The trial court granted GE’s motion for summary judgment, and the appellate court reversed. GE designed, manufactured, and supplied the steam turbines that were on board the decedent’s three ships in the 1940s and 1950s. GE argued it did not have a duty to warn about the hazards of asbestos-containing products that it did not manufacture, sell, or supply. GE’s corporate representative testified that there was no indication that GE procured, designed, or ...
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Plaintiff’s Assertion of the Mere Possibility of Exposure Insufficient to Create a Triable Issue of Fact for Summary Judgment Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division One, March 30, 2017

The plaintiff filed suit against multiple defendants, including Moore Drydock, alleging he developed mesothelioma as a result of his work onboard the USS Carter Hall. The plaintiff further alleged that defendant Moore Drydock built the USS Carter Hall. Specific sources of exposures alleged by the plaintiff included gaskets, packing, and pipe insulation. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that no issue of fact existed. The plaintiff opposed and took the position that the declaration of its insulation expert, Charles Ay, offered the fact that portions of the original insulation were on the USS Carter Hall when the plaintiff served aboard in the 1960s. The trial court granted summary judgment. The plaintiff appealed. The court noted its standard of review for summary judgment appeal is de novo. The plaintiff argued ...
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