$190 Million Verdict Reduced to Under $30 Million New York Supreme Court, New York County

Following the highly publicized $190 million verdict in NYCAL in five consolidated asbestos cases, the defendants were successful in reducing the collective award to just under $30 million on a post-trial motion. While the trial court rejected the defendants’ arguments on certain evidentiary issues, causation, apportionment, consolidation, and recklessness, it recognized that the verdicts materially deviated from what would be reasonable compensation. The court applied the reasoning from the recent appellate court ruling in the Dummit case where the First Department assessed reasonable compensation based on the duration and nature of the pain and suffering sustained by the plaintiffs.  In these consolidated cases, the trial court did the same. For example, in one of the cases, the court stated: “The jury awarded Mr. Serna $30 million for past and $30 million for ...
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Mesothelioma Claim Barred Based on Issue Preclusion Federal Court, Eastern District Wisconsin, February 3, 2015

In this MDL asbestos case, plaintiff brought an action claiming he had asbestosis. CBS and General Electric moved for summary judgment in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which motion was unopposed. At the time the motion was brought, plaintiff had been diagnosed with mesothelioma but such claim had not yet been added to the lawsuit (although disclosed in discovery responses). After the summary judgment motion was granted, plaintiff’s estate commenced another lawsuit in which his estate sought to pursue the mesothelioma claim. The Federal Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin dismissed the claim based on issue preclusion, stating: “In the final analysis, the underlying policies weigh in favor of preclusion. The purpose of claim preclusion ‘provides an effective and useful means to ‘relieve parties of the cost and vexation ...
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Wrongful Death Damages Limited, Riggs v. Georgia-Pacific, LLC Supreme Court of Utah February 2, 2015

The Supreme Court of Utah ruled that a recovery by an asbestos plaintiff in a personal injury lawsuit does not bar a subsequent wrongful death claim brought by his heirs, but there cannot be any double recovery. The plaintiff, who had peritoneal mesothelioma, went to trial against Georgia-Pacific and Union Carbide and was awarded a substantial recovery. Following his death, the plaintiff’s heirs brought a wrongful death and survival claim against Georgia-Pacific, Union Carbide, and others seeking recovery under Utah’s wrongful death statute, which specifically stated such a claim was an independent cause of action. The Supreme Court of Utah, in this case of first impression, ruled that under the plain language of the statute the heirs could pursue a wrongful death claim, but strongly cautioned the lower court that ...
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