2020 Year in Review and 2021 Judiciary Outlook

2020 has been one of the most unprecedented years in the court system nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unsurprisingly, case and motion filing were down in 2020. As previously reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the number of motion filings were significantly down in the second and third quarters of 2020.

In addition, consulting firm KCIC reported that asbestos filings fell by 20 percent during the time period of January through April 2020, as compared to January through April 2019. They similarly reported …

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Burner Defendant Granted Summary Judgment; No Evidence of Product Nexus

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence

In this matter, the decedent alleged asbestos exposure from his work as a plumbing and heating installer/repairer in the state of Maine from 1949 until 1966. Specific to this motion, the decedent installed Wayne burners, and converted Wayne burners from coal to oil. During this work, the decedent mixed asbestos powder and applied asbestos-containing mud to seal the tube of the burner.

With regard to the choice of law analysis, both parties agreed that Maine law should be applied …

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Case Remanded to State Court as Defendants Failed to Show Improper Joinder

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, January 13, 2021

Plaintiff Brent Deaville filed the within action in state court against numerous defendants in January 2020. The plaintiff alleged he contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos while working as an insulator, plumber/pipefitter and mechanic at several facilities in Louisiana from the 1960s through 1990. On November 12, 2020, defendants Exxon Mobil Corp., Ferguson Enterprises, Inc. and J-M Manufacturing Co., Inc. removed this matter to federal court alleging diversity jurisdiction.…

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Jury Verdict Found Consistent as Exposure May Not Be Substantial Contributing Factor of Disease

Supreme Court of Louisiana, January 12, 2021

The plaintiffs sued various defendants alleging that the decedent (Bagwell) developed mesothelioma caused by asbestos exposure which resulted in his death. At trial, the jury rendered a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs against the decedent’s employer, RMC, finding it 75 percent at fault. CAPCO, a non-party defendant, was found 25 percent at fault. The jury assigned no fault to Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and Montello, Inc., the manufacturer and the distributor of asbestos-containing products. The trial court …

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Unopposed Motion to Dismiss Based on Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Granted for Automotive Suppliers

Supreme Court of New York, New York County, January 8, 2021

In this instant matter, defendants Genuine Parts Company and National Automotive Parts Association, LLC’s (defendants) move to dismiss this action against them pursuant to CPLR §3211(a)(8) on the grounds that the court lacked personal jurisdiction over them. The defendants argued that they were not subject to the jurisdiction of the New York court as they were not residents of New York State. In support of their motions, the defendants submitted affidavits from their representatives, …

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Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Granted to Oven Manufacturer

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

The plaintiff alleged that the decedent, Harvey A. Fitzwater, who was allegedly diagnosed with mesothelioma on October 10, 2016, was exposed to asbestos from using ovens manufactured by defendant Baker Perkins from 1965-67 at several locations in Alaska and Washington State. Baker Perkins moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, which was filed in the New York City Asbestos Litigation (New York County, New York), for lack of personal jurisdiction.

As to general jurisdiction, Baker …

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NYCAL Judge Grants Car Manufacturer Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Supporting Affidavit

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County, January 6, 2021

The within matter was filed on behalf of the decedent, Patrick O’Sullivan, based on his alleged exposure to asbestos over the course of his career as a mechanic at various service stations throughout the 1970s. In 2012, the decedent died as a result of lung cancer allegedly caused by his exposure to asbestos. At his deposition, the decedent testified that he worked on Nissan branded vehicles in the 1970s, but he …

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Court Holds Bare Metal Defense Consistent with Tennessee Products Liability Act

Supreme Court of Tennessee at Knoxville, January 4, 2021

On January 4, 2021, the Supreme Court of Tennessee handed down its long-awaited decision in the Coffman matter, and on an issue of first impression, adopted the bare metal defense under Tennessee law. By way of background, the trial court in Coffman granted summary judgment to several pump, valve, and steam trap defendants (Equipment Defendants), finding that they had affirmatively negated their alleged duty to warn on the plaintiffs’ claims that arose from the post-sale integration …

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Reargument of Summary Judgment Denied; Decedent’s Exposure Affidavit Admissible for Motion

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

In this matter, the plaintiff alleges that the decedent’s asbestosis was caused by exposure to the defendants’ asbestos-containing products throughout his career as a mechanic. Pertinent to this motion, the decedent executed an affidavit containing details of his work history and the products with which he worked on July 16, 2014. The decedent was subsequently hospitalized on two separate occasions, and was deemed a candidate for hospice care. He executed a second affidavit on October 8 and passed on …

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Plaintiffs’ Asbestos-Related Claims Not Time Barred Under Vermont’s Statute of Repose

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

In this asbestos matter, the plaintiff, Thomas Pearsons, alleged exposure from maintaining and cleaning a Mergenthaler Model 8 Linotype machine in connection with his employment in a newspaper printing shop. The defendant, Heidelberg, as successor in interest of Mergenthaler Linotype Company, moved for summary judgment on several grounds. First, Heidelberg argued that the plaintiff failed to satisfy the causation standard under Vermont law. However, the court set forth the plaintiff maintained the machine a couple times a day and …

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