Various Defendants Granted Summary Judgment Under Maritime Law Bare Metal Defense U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, August 31, 2017

Plaintiffs Stephen and Marilyn Charlevoix filed this asbestos related personal injury action in Delaware Superior Court against multiple defendants on July 10, 2015. Crane removed the action to this court on August 21, 2015. The plaintiff stated that Mr. Charlevoix was first exposed to asbestos-containing products during his service as a boiler tender with the U.S. Navy from 1961 to 1964 aboard the USS Valley Forge. After his service in the Navy, Mr. Charlevoix worked at Grede Foundry from 1964 to 1966 as a grinder. From 1966 to 1978, Mr. Charlevoix worked as an equipment operator and foreman for M.J. Electric. After leaving M.J. Electric, Mr. Charlevoix went to Charlevoix Logging to work as a logger, where he worked until 2012. The plaintiff and two other product identification witnesses were ...
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Court Denies Partial Motion for Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages Against John Crane While Granting Full Summary Judgment for Other Defendants U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, August 30, 2017

Icom Henry Evans and Johanna Elaine Evans filed an asbestos related personal injury action in the Delaware Superior Court against multiple defendants on June 11, 2015, asserting injuries arising from Mr. Evans’ alleged harmful exposure to asbestos. Defendant John Crane filed a partial motion for summary judgment as to the plaintiffs’ punitive damages claim. John Crane admits to having knowledge of the hazards of asbestos by 1970. However, the parties dispute whether John Crane had knowledge of the hazards of asbestos before 1970. The parties further dispute whether John Crane’s knowledge after 1970 is relevant to consideration of the punitive damages issue. Punitive damages are limited to situations where “a defendant’s conduct is ‘outrageous,’ owing to ‘gross negligence,’ ‘willful, wanton, and reckless indifference for the rights of others,’ or behavior ...
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Plaintiff’s Issues on Appeal Ruled Non-Prejudicial, Insulation was Not a Substantial Cause United States Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit, August 31, 2017

Charles Kirk brought suit against Owens-Illinois and Exxon Mobil alleging that his lung cancer was caused by exposure to asbestos containing material.  From 1954 until 1960 Plaintiff worked aboard navy vessels removing insulation produced by Owens–Illinois, Inc., which he claimed exposed him to asbestos fibers. And for two weeks, he worked as an independent contractor at Exxon Mobil’s  Joliet refinery replacing heaters that Plaintiff claimed were insulated with asbestos. Mobil presented counter-evidence that the insulation at its refinery did not contain asbestos.  Notably, Plaintiff smoked a pack and a half of cigarettes every day for thirty years.  Before a district court and jury, the defendants maintained that cigarettes and not asbestos exposure caused Plaintiff’s lung cancer. After a seven-day trial, the jury found that cigarettes were the sole cause of ...
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Tire Manufacturer Found Grossly Negligent on Appeal of Jury Verdict Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas, August 31, 1027

Carl Rogers was a longtime employee of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.  After he died of mesothelioma, his wife, Vicki Rogers, brought suit against Goodyear.  At the conclusion of a three-week trial, the jury found by clear and convincing evidence that asbestos fibers from the Goodyear Tyler facility were a proximate cause of Carl’s mesothelioma that resulted in his death. The jury also found by clear and convincing evidence that Carl’s death resulted from Goodyear’s gross negligence. The jury also determined that $15 million should be assessed against Goodyear as exemplary damages and apportioned 90% of those damages to Vicki and 5% each of his daughters, Natalie and Courtney. After it applied the statutory cap on punitive damages, the trial court awarded appellees a total of $2,890,000. Vicki was ...
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Summary Judgment Granted to Premises Owner Because Asbestos Not Inherent on the Premise Superior Court of Delaware, August 30, 2017

Plaintiff Sandra Kivell alleged her husband developed and died from mesothelioma due to his asbestos exposure as a union pipefitter and welder.  Defendant Union Carbide moved for summary judgment, which was granted. Union Carbide was a premises owner of a petrochemical facility in Taft, Louisiana, where decedent worked from January 1967-October 1969.  Decedent did not work for and did not receive instruction from Union Carbide, which employed third-party contractors to build process units.  Decedent testified he ran pipe and worked side by side with insulators.  Plaintiff cited to Louisiana case law with similar facts which found that the duty of reasonable care extended to employees of independent contractors. Here, the court stated “…it seems that a key issue the court looks at in negligence actions against the premises owner under ...
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Brake Manufacturer’s Motion for Summary Judgment Granted Based on Statute of Limitations Superior Court of Delaware, August 29, 2017

The plaintiff brought suit in Delaware contending that David Bagwell contracted lung cancer from Pneumo Abex’s products. Bagwell was diagnosed in May 2009 and passed away from cancer on January 28, 2010. Plaintiff contacted an attorney regarding this matter in August or 2012. This matter was ultimately filed on June 2, 2014. Under South Carolina law, the defendant argues that the plaintiff’s case must be dismissed because wrongful death claims must be filed within three years of the date of the decedent’s death. However, Delaware law states that when a cause of action arises outside of Delaware, an action cannot be brought in Delaware to enforce such cause of action after the expiration of whichever is shorter, the time limited by the law of this State, or the time limited ...
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Prior Settlement that Included Future Claims Not Enough to Grant Motion for Summary Judgment Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, August 29, 2017

Plaintiffs Mason South and his wife filed suit under the Jones Act against several defendants, including Texaco, alleging his mesothelioma developed as a result of exposure to asbestos containing products for which defendants were responsible. Mr. South served as a merchant marine for 37 years. Texaco moved for summary judgment arguing that suit was precluded by a prior release signed by the plaintiff in an earlier lawsuit from 1997. Specifically, Mr. South had released Texaco from “all bodily and/or personal injuries, sickness or death” from asbestos exposure including “the long term effects of exposure.” The plaintiff opposed Texaco’s motion for summary judgment arguing that the settlement did not bar his claim for mesothelioma pursuant to a section of the Federal Employers’ Liability ACT (FELA). Section 5 of FELA requires strict ...
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In Talc Case, Gaps in Chain of Custody Lead to Partial Exclusion of Opinions of Plaintiff’s Geologist California Court of Appeal, August 25, 2017

Plaintiff Delgadina Alfaro alleged the development of mesothelioma due to asbestos contained in talcum powder she used as a child. The jury found for defendants Colgate-Palmolive Company, the manufacturer of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder, and Imerys Talc America, Inc., the successor-in-interest to talc suppliers for Colgate, including Cyprus. The plaintiff appealed, and the court affirmed. The plaintiff claimed that her mother and grandmother used Cashmere Bouquet and that she used it as well. Her years of exposure were 1977-90. Colgate made Cashmere Bouquet from 1871-1985, and sold it until 1995. The court summarized the information regarding talc, asbestos, and mesothelioma. The plaintiff’s expert, Sean Fitzgerald, testified that he found asbestos in the mines used by Colgate to obtain talc. Further, his examination of quality-control testing of talc by Colgate and ...
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Conflicting X-Ray Reports Subject for Cross-Examination, Not Grounds to Compel a CT Scan Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, August 23, 2017

Defendants Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation and Hess Corporation filed a motion to compel plaintiff Andrew Wilson to undergo a CT scan of his chest to determine whether there was any objective evidence of lung disease. The court denied the motion to compel. Wilson alleged asbestos exposure and the development of asbestosis due to his work at the oil refinery on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. The plaintiff’s case was consolidated with over a hundred cases. The court ordered the plaintiffs to provide medical records or releases and to submit to a medical examination by a physician chosen by the defendants. The defendants agreed to request a CT scan only for those plaintiffs for whom Dr. James Crapo, the doctor chosen by defendants, and Dr. John, the doctor ...
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California Bankruptcy Court Holds Coverage Action is Core Bankruptcy Proceeding U.S. Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California, August 25, 2017

CFB Liquidating Corporation emerged from the Chapter 11 bankruptcy of Chicago Fire Brick Co. (CFB), a company that manufactured products containing asbestos. Asbestos-related claims overwhelmed the company, and the Plan of Reorganization that was confirmed in the bankruptcy proceedings essentially directs the Trustee to administer the company’s remaining assets to pay asbestos-related claims. CFB’s remaining assets included several insurance policies. While most of CFB’s insurers settled with the bankruptcy estate and made payments, Continental Casualty Company elected to file a proof of claim and negotiate a claims settlement process, which was incorporated into CFB’s Plan of Reorganization after years of negotiation. A dispute arose about several claims submitted to Continental pursuant to that process, and the Trustee filed an adversary proceeding against Continental in the bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy court ...
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