2021 First Quarter Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust Alert

Asbestos bankruptcy trusts remain a topic frequently monitored and reported on Asbestos Case Tracker.  As the first quarter of 2021 comes to a close, we have seen a number of changes to 11 trusts that will impact the amount of compensation available to individuals claiming asbestos-related injuries. 

Below is a summary of the changes, to date. It will be interesting to see how the PROTECT Asbestos Victims Act, reported on last month, may impact the bankruptcies if it progresses.

Bankrupt TrustChange
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Federal Officer Removal Upheld for Employer Steam Ship Company

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, May 17, 2021

The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent, Raymond Hutchins, Jr. was exposed to asbestos while working aboard vessels owned and operated by his employer, Lykes Brothers Steamship Company from 1964 to 2006. Specifically, the plaintiffs alleged that Mr. Hutchins worked aboard several vessels built by Avondale Shipyard pursuant to its contracts with the United States Maritime Administration. The plaintiffs filed their suit in state court, and Huntington Ingalls, as successor to Avondale, removed the …

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Naval Defendant Denied Summary Judgment as Causation Issues of Fact Remain

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, May 13, 2021

In this asbestos action, the decedent alleged asbestos exposure from pumps manufactured by defendant Warren at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard from 1962 until 1973, as well as at the Treasure Island Naval Base from 1974 until 1980. Warren moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff cannot show that the decedent was exposed to an asbestos-containing products attributable to Warren.

As a threshold matter, the parties did not agree as to whether maritime …

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Electric Motor Defendants Obtain Summary Judgment as Plaintiff Failed to Proffer Sufficient Causation Evidence

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, May 14, 2021

In this asbestos action, the plaintiff alleges that the decedent Richard Nybeck developed lung cancer following occupational exposure to asbestos. Pertinent to the motions for summary judgment, the decedent alleged that he worked with Allen-Bradley electrical motors and starters which were mounted to asbestos-containing phenolic board at the Philadelphia International Airport. In addition, he dismantled A.O. Smith electric motors which contained asbestos-containing phenolic board at the Philadelphia Technical Institute. Both defendants argued that …

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Plaintiff’s Punitive Damages Claim Withstands Summary Judgment Against Brake Manufacturer

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, May 10, 2021

In this asbestos action, Mr. Toy (the plaintiff) alleged that he worked with asbestos-containing brakes manufactured by Bendix in the 1950s and 1970s. Defendant Honeywell as successor-in-interest to Bendix moved for summary judgment on several grounds. The plaintiff only opposed the defendant’s motion for summary judgment on the punitive damages claim.

Under California Civil Code § 3294(a), “a plaintiff may recover punitive damages “where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that …

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Two Friction-Based Juni Motions Denied in Nassau County

Supreme Court of the State of New York, Nassau County, May 12, 2021

The plaintiff in this matter was a career auto-mechanic. He alleged asbestos exposure from car parts manufactured by various defendants, including Ford and Mercedes, caused his lung cancer.

Ford and Mercedes each filed summary judgement motions alleging that (1) the plaintiff could not establish specific exposure and (2) that the causation opinions of the plaintiff’s experts should be precluded. Ford sought an order for a Frye hearing while Mercedes sought a hearing …

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Court Denies Motion for Summary Judgment in Part Finding Defendant Manufactures had Duty to Warn

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, May 7, 2021

The plaintiff alleges exposure to asbestos-containing equipment during his service in the United States Navy. The plaintiff and his wife sued several equipment manufacturers alleging their products caused the plaintiff to develop mesothelioma.

The defendants filed an omnibus motion for summary judgment arguing (1) they had no duty to warn of product hazards, (2) there is no proof of causation, (3) the government contractor defense immunizes them from liability, and (4) punitive damages …

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Denial of Summary Judgment Reversed as to Joint Compound Manufacturer

Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department, April 20, 2021

In this matter, Judge Manuel Mendez, former NYCAL coordinating judge, denied defendant Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc’s motion for summary judgment on January 13, 2020. Kaiser Gypsum appealed arguing that plaintiffs failed to identify defendant’s products as a source of the decedent’s alleged exposure to asbestos. Further, the only evidence presented was the inadmissible hearsay statement of a coworker of the decedent and his son when they were working together at some point from …

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Pump Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment on Causation Grounds

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, April 28, 2021

The plaintiff alleged that the decedent, Carl E. Gay, was exposed to asbestos while serving in the United States Navy and the United States Air Force from 1946 to 1958 and 1958 to 1967, respectively; and while employed by General Electric Co. from 1967 to 1974 and Stone and Webster from 1974 to 1989; and from performing Shadetree automotive work beginning in the 1940s. Mr. Gay was deposed over the course of nine …

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Seven Manufacturers/Suppliers Obtain Summary Judgment As Plaintiff Could Not Meet the Causation Standard

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, April 28, 2021

In this asbestos action, the plaintiff alleged that the decedent Carl Gay developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos numerous the defendants’ products. Six defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff did not properly identify their products. Specifically, they argued that the plaintiff could not show that the decedent was exposed to their respective products with the necessary frequency, regularity, and proximity to cause his mesothelioma. They also argued that the plaintiff …

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