Pennsylvania Statute Authorized General Personal Jurisdiction if Foreign Corporation Registered in Pennsylvania U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, March 19, 2018

PENNSYLVANIA — The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that the defendants were subject to general personal jurisdiction due to the consent provision in Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute. The facts are as follows: the plaintiff, Thomas Gorton, alleged he developed mesothelioma as a result of his work at various phone companies and from changing automobile brakes. None of the alleged exposure took place in Pennsylvania. The case was filed in state court and removed to federal court. Defendants Ford Motor Company, Pacific Bell Telephone Co., Nevada Bell Telephone Co., and AT&T, Inc. moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint for lack of personal jurisdiction, among other grounds. The court first addressed specific jurisdiction, and found there was none because the plaintiff failed to show that his injuries were ...
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All-Sums Allocation Applied to Additional Insured Coverage for Wrongful-Death Claim Based on Asbestos Exposure U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, March 15, 2018

CALIFORNIA — Plaintiff Polar-Mohr Maschinenvertriebsgesellschaft (Polar-Mohr) was sued by claimants seeking damages for the alleged wrongful death of their father, a former service technician for Polar-Mohr machines who died from mesothelioma due to exposure to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products.  Polar-Mohr sought coverage from Zurich American Insurance Company as an additional insured on a policy issued by Zurich to Heidelberg Eastern, which was Polar-Mohr’s only customer during the policy period.  The issues before the court were whether Zurich’s liability to Polar-Mohr would be based on pro-rata or all-sums allocation, and whether the amount of defense costs submitted by Polar-Mohr for payment by Zurich was presumptively reasonable. The court determined that the all-sums approach applied, regardless of whether New York or California law governed the question.  Both states determine whether all-sums or ...
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Remand Affirmed Due to Lack of Causal Nexus in Take-Home Exposure Case U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, March 16, 2018

LOUISIANA — The Legendre brothers filed suit in Louisiana State Court on behalf of their sister, Mary Jane Wilde, who died from complications related to mesothelioma. Their father, Percy Legendre, worked at a shipyard owned and operated by Huntington Ingalls, Inc. (Avondale) and was allegedly exposed to asbestos. The plaintiffs further alleged that Mary Jane was exposed to asbestos via fibers that were on her father’s work clothes and this exposure caused her to develop mesothelioma. Defendant Avondale invoked the federal officer removal statute and removed the case to the Eastern District of Louisiana. The District Court subsequently remanded the case back to state court, holding that Avondale failed to show the required “causal nexus” to support federal jurisdiction. Avondale appealed the remand. Under the statute, an action “against or ...
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Plaintiffs’ Experts Permitted to Testify Regarding Conspiracy Claims U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, March 14, 2018

Defendant Crane Company filed motions to strike the plaintiff’s expert reports from James A. Bruce, M.D., Barry Castleman Sc.D, and Captain Francis J. Burger as violating Federal Rules of Evidence 402 and 702 in this lung cancer case that was removed to Federal Court. The plaintiff alleged asbestos exposure through his work on two ships in the United States Navy, and through his work as a salesman. Only one count remained from the plaintiff’s Fourth Amended Complaint following Crane’s summary judgment motion, and it alleged that Crane and others conspired to suppress and misrepresent the hazards of asbestos. In its motion to strike, Crane argued that none of the experts’ reports set forth any opinions on the plaintiff’s sole remaining claims against it. The court analyzed the motion through the ...
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Summary Judgment Affirmed Based on Lack of Admissible Evidence of Secondary Asbestos Exposure Court of Appeal, First District, Division 2, California, March 8, 2018

CALIFORNIA —Sandra Foglia and her children filed suit against Moore Dry Dock (MDD), alleging that the decedent, Ronald Foglia, was exposed to asbestos via his late father, Felix Foglia, and developed mesothelioma. The plaintiffs alleged that Felix was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at a shipyard operated by MDD. MDD moved for summary judgment, claiming it owed no duty of care to the decedent for secondary exposure and that the plaintiffs could not reasonably obtain evidence to show that the decedent was exposed to asbestos from the clothing and person of Felix as result of his employment at MDD from 1942-45. The trial court held that MDD owed a duty of care, but also ruled that the evidence was not sufficient to support a reasonable inference that ...
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Plaintiff Can Serve Jurisdictional Disclosure Demands Regarding Potential Successor Liability in Talc Case New York Supreme Court for New York County, February 20, 2018

NEW YORK — Plaintiff Richard Arazosa alleged that he was injured as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing cosmetic talcum powder products.  Defendant Imerys SA filed a pre-answer motion to dismiss claims against it, arguing a lack of jurisdiction given its existence as a French holding company with no assets or presence in the United States.  The plaintiff asked the Special Master for permission to serve jurisdictional disclosure demands on Imerys SA with the intent of proving that Imerys SA was the successor to Talco e Grafite, an Italian company that mined talc to be used in cosmetic talcum powder products.  The Special Master granted the request.  Imerys SA contended that the disclosure demands were stayed by their motion to dismiss, and they further objected to the Special Master’s recommendation ...
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Jury Finds Asbestos-Cement Pipe Supplier Was Not a Substantial Contributing Factor to Plaintiff’s Lung Cancer Louisiana Civil District Court for Orleans Parish, January 29, 2018

LOUISIANA — After a three-week trial, a jury reached a defense verdict in this lung cancer case in favor of lone defendant Ferguson Enterprises and its alleged predecessor Louisiana Utilities Supply Co. (LUSCO), a supplier of asbestos-containing cement pipe.  Plaintiff Thomas Handy claimed that he cut asbestos cement pipe supplied by LUSCO while working as a laborer and pipefitter, and that this exposure among others, caused his lung cancer.  Defendant Ferguson argued that it was not a successor corporation to LUSCO under Louisiana law, that LUSCO only sold a small amount of pipe to the plaintiff’s employers, and that any contact the plaintiff did have with LUSCO cement pipe would not have been a substantial contributing factor to the development of the plaintiff’s lung cancer.  While jurors concluded that Handy ...
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New Evidence Leads to Vacated Final Judgment in Favor of Fertilizer Company Superior Court of New Jersey, Appellate Division, February 26, 2018

NEW JERSEY — In an unpublished opinion issued by the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, the plaintiff successfully overturned the entry of summary judgment on the basis of discovery of new evidence. The plaintiff filed suit in 2012, alleging that his application of two bags of Scotts Turf Builder fertilizer twice a year, from 1967 to 1980, caused him to develop mesothelioma. He passed shortly after filing the lawsuit and his wife was substituted as executrix of the estate. The plaintiff alleged that Scotts Turf Builder was manufactured from vermiculite ore, and that from 1966 until 1980, two-thirds of that ore was mined in Libby, Montana. The parties did not dispute that the vermiculite ore mined in Libby contained amphibole asbestos. During discovery, Scotts responded that it did not possess ...
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Cumulative-Exposure Theory Inconsistent with Test for Causation; Not a Sufficient Basis for Finding Substantial Factor Supreme Court of Ohio, January 24, 2018 (decided); February 8, 2018 (released)

OHIO — The decedent  Kathleen Schwartz’s husband, Mark Schwartz, filed suit against numerous manufacturers of asbestos-containing products, alleging that asbestos exposure caused her to develop mesothelioma, leading to her death. By the time of trial, Honeywell International, Inc., the successor-in-interest to Bendix Corporation, was the only defendant who remained. The issue at trial — and on appeal — was whether the decedent’s exposure to asbestos from Bendix brake products was a substantial factor in causing the decedent’s mesothelioma. The decedent’s father changed the brakes in family cars, and occurred five to ten times in the garage of the family home during the 18years the decedent lived there. The decedent and her siblings used the garage to access the backyard; The decedent’s father also testified that he wouldn’t change his clothes ...
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Case Remanded to Determine Setoff Amounts from Settlements with Asbestos Trusts Supreme Court of Mississippi, February 15, 2018

MISSISSIPPI — On February 13, 2009, Clara Hagan filed a complaint, as the representative of Bennie Oakes, against Illinois Central Railroad in the Warren County Circuit Court. The complaint, brought under the provisions of the Federal Employers Liability Act, sought to recover damages for personal injuries and/or death sustained by decedent Bennie Oakes while decedent was employed by Illinois Central and while engaging in interstate commerce. The decedent was employed by Illinois Central from 1952 through 1994 and alleged he was exposed to asbestos “on a daily basis.” The first trial occurred in 2011 but resulted in a hung jury. The jury in the second trial found in favor of Hagan and awarded $250,000; however, the jury also apportioned fault, with Illinois Central being twenty percent at fault and Oakes ...
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