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Asbestos Year in Review: Punitive Damages in Asbestos Litigation

In asbestos litigation, it is common for plaintiffs to demand punitive damages, alleging that the conduct of some or all of the defendants was so egregious that the defendants must pay exemplary damages. Unlike compensatory damages, the purpose of punitive damages is not to compensate the plaintiff but rather to punish a defendant for reckless and wanton acts and to discourage the defendant and others from acting in a similar way in the future.

While compensatory damages are rooted in actual expenses, the value of …

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court of appeals

First Department Reverses Denial of Valve Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss on Personal Jurisdiction Grounds

Court: Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department

Plaintiff Ralph Vavala alleged his lung cancer diagnosis arose from alleged exposure to asbestos from a variety of products, including valves manufactured by the defendant, Jenkins Bros., during his employment as a steamfitter and welder from the 1960s through the 1980s. Upon commencement of the plaintiff’s lawsuit, Jenkins Bros. moved to dismiss the complaint against it for lack of personal jurisdiction. In response, the plaintiff cross-moved for jurisdictional discovery. On December 6, 2021, the trial …

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Judge Hitting Mallet On Dollar

$23 Million Verdict Awarded in Mesothelioma Case Against Valve Manufacturer

Jurisdiction: NYCAL

A Manhattan jury handed down a $23 million verdict Dec. 21 in a living mesothelioma case brought by the law firm of Weitz & Luxenberg. 

The jury awarded compensatory damages to 81-year-old plaintiff James McWilliams, designating $13 million for past pain and suffering and $10 million for future pain and suffering.

Mr. McWilliams was a career union steamfitter for Local 638 in New York City. 

The trial began in November before Justice Suzanne Adams. The six jurors found a valve manufacturer 90-percent liable …

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Asbestos Distributor Defendant Obtains Summary Judgment Due to Lack of Identification

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, Jan. 13

Plaintiff Glen King  alleged that his exposure to asbestos during the course of his employment with the United States Navy, Louisiana State University, and BASF Corporation caused him to develop mesothelioma. He sued various defendants including Union Carbide, alleging in his negligence claim that Union Carbide supplied asbestos-containing products to his worksites and failed to adequately warn him of the presence of asbestos and the health hazards associated therewith. This matter was removed …

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Motion to Remand Denied as Defendant’s Removal Timely Under Federal Officer Removal Statute

Court: United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

In this asbestos action, decedent Gayle LeBeau alleged take-home exposure to asbestos from her father and brother’s work at the Avondale Shipyards. After decedent filed her claim in state court, defendant Huntington Ingalls Incorporated (“Avondale”) removed the case to federal court. Plaintiffs moved to remand the case to state court, which Avondale opposed.   

Plaintiffs argued that removal was untimely as Avondale had notice of the appropriateness of removal from the decedent’s original petition on …

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Pump Manufacturer’s Motion for Summary Judgment Denied

Supreme Court of New York, New York County  

Plaintiff Jane Wixted, individually and as executrix of the estate of decedent Thomas Wixted, filed the instant lawsuit claiming that the decedent was exposed to asbestos in connection with pumps manufactured by Milton Roy. Between 1964 and 1976, the decedent worked in various positions at the Suffolk State School. Daniel Stoffel, hired by the decedent to work as a fireman for the Suffolk State School, testified that the decedent was present when he removed and replaced …

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$25 Million Verdict Awarded in Asbestosis Case Following Trial Against Gasket and Packing Manufacturer

Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania  

On Thursday, December 22, 2022, a Philadelphia jury handed down a $25 million verdict in an asbestosis case brought by the law firm of Nass Cancelliere. The award was comprised of $15 million in non-economic damages to 76-year-old plaintiff, Richard Daciw, and $10 million in loss of consortium damages to his wife, Winifred. John Crane, Inc. was the sole remaining defendant at trial. Twenty entities were included on the verdict sheet, comprised of both premises/employer defendants and …

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Automobile Manufacturer Denied Summary Judgment as Corporate Representative Affidavit Deemed Insufficient

Court: Supreme Court of New York, New York County

In this asbestos action, the defendant, Francesco Carboni, alleged asbestos exposure working on automobiles for Zumbach Sports Cars. The defendant, Porsche Cars North America, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the decedent was not exposed to asbestos from any PCNA products. The plaintiff Susan Carboni opposed PCNA’s motion.

PCNA argued that it could not be liable for any alleged exposure in this case as the decedent testified that he last worked on Porsche automobiles in 1981 …

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Pump Manufacturer Obtains Partial Summary Judgment

Court: Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, Third Department

In this asbestos action, the plaintiff, Albert Howard, contends that he developed mesothelioma following his service in the United States Navy from 1961 to 1978. During this time, he alleged asbestos exposure from working with pumps, including Armstrong pumps, while serving on various submarines whose names he could not recall. The defendant, Armstrong, moved for summary judgment, which the plaintiff opposed. The trial court denied Armstrong’s motion.

Armstrong appealed the trial court’s denial of summary judgment. …

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Grant of Summary Judgment to Employer Defendants Reversed on Appeal

Jurisdiction: Superior Court of Pennsylvania

Richard and Pamela Shellenberger filed a lawsuit to recover damages from several defendants, including Mr. Shellenberger’s employers — Kreider Dairy Farms Inc. and Noah W. Kreider & Sons LLP (Appellees) — as a result of his exposure to asbestos and subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis, from which he ultimately died. Specifically, they alleged that Mr. Shellenberger was exposed to asbestos through maintenance work he performed on the boiler at Kreider Farms’ dairy processing plant from 1972 through September 1980.    

The appellees …

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