New Jersey Supreme Court Reverses the Appellate Division’s Prior Ruling in Rowe Creating a Positive Light for Asbestos Defendants

On September 11, 2019, the New Jersey Supreme Court returned a defense friendly decision in Donna Rowe v. Bell & Gossett Co. et al. The supreme court overruled the Appellate Division of New Jersey in a decision, which would have negatively affected trial defendants’ ability to allocate fault to settled defendants. The decedent, Ronald Rowe who suffered from mesothelioma, sued 27 defendants who allegedly caused his illness. The defendants varied from manufacturers of friction products, boilers, pumps, valves, and other companies. On the eve…
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Attempt to Revive MARDOC Cases on Jurisdiction Fails as to all but Four Appellants United States Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, November 8, 2019

OHIO – The plaintiffs in this matter are merchant mariners who originally filed their cases in the Northern District of Ohio. Subsequent to filing, their cases were transferred to multidistrict litigation (MDL). Prior to trial in Pennsylvania, the court dismissed the cases after a finding that the Ohio court lacked personal jurisdiction, and appeal ensued. By way of background, the merchant mariner cases were in the thousands. Filings began in the 1980s against several ship owners, manufacturers, and suppliers of asbestos products. Their claims were…
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Trial Court’s Exception of Prescription Reversed; Decedent Found to Have no Prior notice of his potential Mesothelioma Court of Appeal of Louisiana, Third Circuit November 6, 2019

LOUISIANA – David Lee’s heirs alleged that he was exposed to asbestos while working in various jobs from the 1950s to the 1970s. Lee had various abdominal issues throughout his life, and had a carcinoid tumor removed in 2008. The final pathology report for the tumor showed well-differentiated papillary mesothelioma. However, Lee was asymptomatic after the tumor removal and never learned of the specific diagnosis. In 2012, Lee suffered more abdominal discomfort, and peritoneal mesothelioma was discovered. Lee passed away that year, and his heirs…
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Fifth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment After Experts Speculate Regarding Specific Causation United States Court of Appeal, Fifth Circuit, November 5, 2019

The plaintiff, Robert Schindler, alleged that his mesothelioma was caused in part by his work for the defendant, Dravo Basic Materials Co., aboard a dredge vessel called the Avocet that collected clam shells from the bottom of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. The plaintiff submitted expert reports from Dr. Robert Harrison and Dr. David Tarin that testified to both general and specific causation. The district court granted Dravo’s Daubert motions and excluded both experts’ specific causation testimony as not “based on sufficient facts or data,” and…
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Georgia Declines to Accept Duty to Warn of Another Manufacturer’s Product Theory Court of Appeals of Georgia October 29, 2019

GEORGIA — In their consolidated appeal, the Court of Appeals of Georgia considered whether the plaintiff, Leisa Davis sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact that her deceased husband, John Davis was exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by John Crane, Inc. (JCI) and FMC Corporation (FMC) during his employment at a fiberboard mill. JCI and FMC were both granted summary judgment by the trial court. The plaintiff contends that summary judgment was improper for JCI because she met her burden by showing her husband…
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Court Dismisses Constructive Fraud Claim Against Insurer United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, October 29, 2019

VIRGINIA – Newport News Shipbuilding Division (NNS) has built ships and submarines for the United States Navy since the late 1800s. Through several transactions, the company came to be owned first by Tenneco, Inc., and later by Huntington Ingalls, Inc. Between 2001 and 2015, NNS was sued in a number of asbestos-related personal injury actions. As part of its response to those actions, NNS sought coverage under policies issued by one of its insurers. The insurer offered coverage under several policies, but represented that no…
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Sugar Refinery Defendant’s Appeal of Trial Verdict Denied Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5, California, October 30, 2019

CALIFORNIA – Mark Lopez’s widow, plaintiff Lannette Lopez, brought suit against the defendant, The Hillshire Brands Company, arguing that Mark was exposed to asbestos as a child from his father and grandfather’s work at a sugar refinery owned by Hillshire, causing his fatal epithelioid mesothelioma. A jury awarded the plaintiff $1.9 million dollars in economic damages and $11 million dollars in noneconomic damages. Hillshire appealed, and raised challenges to the jury’s failure to apportion fault; to the jury instructions given; and to the sufficiency of…
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Summary Judgment Reversed for Gasket Manufacturer, But Affirmed for Pump Manufacturer Court of Appeals of Georgia, October 29, 2019

GEORGIA – Leisa Davis filed suit against the defendants John Crane (JCI) and FMC Corporation (for Peerless pumps hereinafter FMC), alleging her husband developed and passed away from mesothelioma as a result of his asbestos exposure to products for which the defendants were liable. Davis worked at the Louisiana Pacific Corporation fiberboard mill from 1984 to 1988 as a laborer and boiler operator. As a laborer, he swept up dust in the mill and removed gaskets and packing from the boilers, pumps, and valves. Davis…
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Improper Exclusion of Plaintiff’s Affidavit and Testimony Leads to Reversal of Summary Judgment Pennsylvania Superior Court, October 28, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA – The plaintiff, Nicholas Kardos, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2016, and he filed suit against numerous defendants in March of that year. On September 12, 2016, he submitted an affidavit regarding his work at Gulf Research and exposure to asbestos while employed there. He was deposed and cross-examined by numerous defendants over three days in October 2016, and passed away eight days after the last day of testimony. Numerous defendants filed motions for summary judgment. All of the defendants were present at…
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Delaware District Court Rules on Pre-trial Motions in Maritime Law Case United States District Court, D. Delaware, October 25, 2019

DELAWARE – The plaintiff filed this asbestos-related wrongful death action in Delaware on June 11, 2015. While the court does not explain the underlying case facts, motion practice regarding admiralty law and expert exclusion indicates that the decedent was exposed to asbestos while a member of the United States Navy. As trial is approaching for this case, the plaintiff and the defendant, John Crane, Inc. (JCI), both filed motions in limine. The plaintiff’s motion sought to exclude discussion or reference to collateral sources, including…
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