Zoom: The Final Trial Frontier?

In a case recently reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the nation saw the first asbestos-related Zoom trial go to verdict. While the trial went through to verdict, it was not without serious procedural and technological hiccups that were noted by both sides of the bar and the judge.

During the trial, Honeywell’s counsel filed a “notice of irregularities,” which listed myriad issues with the jurors themselves, including seeing a juror working and emailing from another computer during opening statements and two jurors looking …

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Defendants Cannot Introduce Collateral Source Income at Trial

U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana, September 17, 2020

The instant matter has been extensively covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker blog. In addition to the myriad of other motions in limine filed, the plaintiffs filed a motion in limine to exclude questions or comments concerning collateral sources of income or payments. Multiple defendants opposed the motion.

The defendants “concede that evidence of benefits received from collateral sources is inadmissible for the purpose of reducing a plaintiff’s recovery by means of offset,” but argued …

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Brake and Premises Defendants’ Motions to Exclude Expert Testimony Denied

U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, September 16, 2020

The plaintiff, Victor Coffin, alleges he contracted mesothelioma from his work as an aviation electrician in the U.S. Navy from January 1968 to September 1971, as a machinist for Maine Central Railroad (MCRR) from 1971 to 1987 and as an employee of the State of Maine from 1987 to 1988. Defendants MCRR and Honeywell International Inc. have moved to exclude the expert testimony of the plaintiff’s experts Jerrold L. Abraham, M.D. and David Ozonoff, …

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Motion to Consolidate Granted Joining Two NYCAL Cases Against Same Defendant

The plaintiffs in two asbestos product liability actions, represented by the same attorneys, moved to consolidate for purposes of a joint trial pursuant to CPLR § 602(a). Defendant Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc. is the single remaining defendant in both actions. In NYCAL, the plaintiffs must show that joinder is appropriate pursuant to the Malcolm v. National Gypsum Co. factors. Notably, the plaintiffs must not meet every Malcolm factor to show that joinder is appropriate. Instead, a joint trial is appropriate when “individual issues do not …

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

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Central Division, September 11, 2020

Defendant Cyprus Mines filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing the court does not have jurisdiction over Cyprus even though it provided talc to Johnson & Johnson, which incorporated the talc into consumer products and then sold those consumer products in Arkansas. Cyprus argues that undertook no suit-related activities in or directed toward Arkansas, and there is therefore no basis for specific jurisdiction over it. The plaintiff …

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Deposition Testimony Implicates Federal Officer Removal; Removal Deemed Timely

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, September 3, 2020

The plaintiff, Lana Waguespack, initiated the instant matter in state court against Avondale and others asserting that she contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos brought home on the clothes of her father, brother, and ex-husband. During a deposition, according to Avondale, the plaintiff’s father testified that an area that he worked in was exclusively for the construction of federal vessels.

Avondale received the transcript on June 12, 2020, and filed the Notice …

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Zoom Trial Ends With Defense Verdict

Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, September 3, 2020

In one of the first asbestos-related Zoom trials in the country, Honeywell International, Inc., successor in interest to Bendix Corp., won a defense verdict. The plaintiff, Ricardo Ocampo, alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from working as a janitor at various auto dealerships and manufacturing businesses between 1991-1997 and that his exposure caused him to develop mesothelioma.

The jury deliberated for two days before returning the defense verdict.…

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Various Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment Denied on Duty to Warn in Naval Action

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, August 31, 2020

The plaintiff, Linda Hammell, alleges that her husband decedent Arthur Hammell contracted mesothelioma and died from exposure to asbestos. By way of background, the decedent enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1960, and served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from April 1962 through September 1964.

During the decedent’s time on active duty, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Charles H. Roan (Roan) where he maintained boilers, forced draft blowers, valves, pumps, …

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Brake Machine Defendant Wins Summary Judgment

Superior Court of Delaware, August 31, 2020

The plaintiff alleged that Raymond Petit, a deceased mesothelioma claimant, was exposed to asbestos from working with AMMCO brake arching and lathe machines during his time working at auto parts and auto body shops from 1981 to 1989. During his deposition, Petit testified that he “used the lathe to turn brake drums ‘several times a day,’ and would turn ‘maybe 20, 30 drums on a weekend.’” He also testified that he would grind brake shoes with sandpaper “occasionally,” …

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Remand Motion Denied In Action Removed on Diversity Grounds

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, August 28, 2020

The state court matter of Paul Hotard was removed by a defendant to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on diversity grounds. The plaintiff filed a motion seeking to remand the matter to state court because, the plaintiff argued, the “removing party … was not identified as a defendant in the petition.” (Id., at p. 51). The defendant, in turn, argued that removal was proper as per “Louisiana’s system …

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