Asbestos Litigation Remains Strong Impetus for Inclusion on Judicial Hellhole Jurisdiction List

Last month, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) issued its always anticipated annual report on Judicial Hellholes. Not surprisingly, asbestos litigation remained a common engine driving the same familiar jurisdictions to repeated billing on the list. ATRA’s report attempts to shine a light on the conduct of all tort litigation in the United States, with attention to the uneven application of equal justice under the law, pretrial rulings, decisions during trial, unreasonable expansions of liability, and reflections on judicial integrity. Below, we’ll offer a…
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In Talc case, Motion to Dismiss Denied Based on Business Registration; Case Not Remanded to State Court

U.S. District Court E.D. Pennsylvania, January 16, 2019 PENNSYLVANIA -The plaintiffs filed suit in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas against Imerys and Johnson & Johnson, alleging that the plaintiff Carrie Youse’s use of cosmetic talcum powder caused her to develop mesothelioma. Imerys filed a notice of removal, including within the notice J&J’s consent. Soon thereafter, Imerys filed a Motion to Dismiss for lack of jurisdiction which was rendered moot by the plaintiffs filing an amended complaint. In the amended complaint, the plaintiffs added a…
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California Immune from Asbestos Exposure Civil Rights Claim by Prisoner-Employee

U.S. District Court, N.D. California, January 10, 2019 CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff Darryl Schilling (plaintiff), incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, filed a civil rights action, pro se, asserting that his constitutional rights were violated under Section 1983 by the defendant California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) since it showed “knowing indifference” to the plaintiff’s health and safety in having him work at the San Quentin furniture factory in a position that exposed the plaintiff to asbestos; rebuffing his stated concerns; and, eventually, retaliating by…
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Motion to Remand Turbine Manufacturer’s Removal Denied Due to Statements in Settlement Demand Letter

United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, January 9, 2019 RHODE ISLAND — The plaintiff filed suit on behalf of her husband, Michael Mannix, alleging that his death was caused by exposure to asbestos. She sued CBS, among other defendants, related to his work on ships in the Navy. After years of discovery, the plaintiff’s counsel sent CBS a settlement demand letter in which it was stated that decedent was exposed to asbestos from CBS turbines on the USS Saratoga. CBS promptly…
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Default Judgments Set Aside After Insurer Discovers Policies California Court of Appeal, January 9, 2019

CALIFORNIA — Beginning in 2009, several asbestos plaintiffs filed claims against the Associated Insulation of California (the Associated). The Associated ceased operating in 1974 and did not respond to the plaintiffs’ complaints. Two of the plaintiffs notified the Associated’s alleged insurer, Fireman’s Fund, of the lawsuits. However, Fireman’s Fund could not locate any policies issued to the Associated and therefore declined to defend or indemnify Associated. The plaintiffs then sought and obtained default judgments in various amounts.The plaintiffs served notice of entry of default judgments…
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Plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment Denied in Wake of Appeal United States District Court, W.D. Washington. January 08, 2019

WASHINGTON — In the ongoing Leslie Jack litigation previously reported by Asbestos Case Tracker, the plaintiff’s Motion for Entry of Final Judgment in favor of Union Pacific Railroad (Union) was recently denied. The plaintiff moved for entry after Union’s motion for summary judgment was granted by the court and after a mistrial against remaining defendants DCo and Ford was declared. The plaintiff argued that entry of final judgment would lead to judicial economy predicated on the theory that if the plaintiff prevailed on its appeal…
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Three Experts’ Opinions Deemed Reliable and Relevant Under Daubert Standard United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana, January 7, 2019

LOUISIANA — The defendants Ford and Cummins filed motions in limine to exclude or limit the expert testimony of the plaintiffs’ experts Dr. Brent Staggs, Dr. Murray Finkelstein, and Christopher Depasquale. The plaintiff Victor Michel filed suit in state court against multiple defendants, alleging that his exposure to asbestos while working as a mechanic and generator service technician caused him to contract peritoneal mesothelioma. Under Daubert, the district court “is to act as a gatekeeper to ensure that ‘any and all scientific testimony or…
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Louisiana Case Remanded Due to Lack of Causal Nexus Between Defendants’ Actions Under Color of Federal Office and Plaintiff’s Negligence Claims United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana, January 7, 2019

LOUISIANA — The plaintiff Callen Dempster filed suit against multiple defendants, alleging that he was exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products while employed by Avondale Industries, Inc. (Avondale) from 1962-1994.  The plaintiff originally filed suit in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, on March 14, 2018.  On June 21, 2018, the defendants Huntington Ingalls Incorporated, Albert Bossier, Jr., J. Melton Garret, and Lamorak Insurance Company (the Avondale Interests) removed the case to the eastern district under the Federal Officer…
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Defendants’ Joint Motion for Summary Judgment Failed Due to Unresolved Issues of Material Fact United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana, January 7, 2019

LOUISIANA — The plaintiff Victor Michel filed suit in state court against multiple defendants, alleging that his exposure to asbestos while working as a mechanic and generator service technician caused him to contract peritoneal mesothelioma. The defendants removed the action to the Eastern District of Louisiana, and Ford and Cummins Inc. filed a joint motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff could not show that their products substantially contributed to Michel’s mesothelioma.  Plaintiff opposed the motion. The defendants argued jointly that they were entitled…
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Denial of Texas County’s Jurisdictional Challenges Upheld on Appeal Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, 1st District, December 28, 2018

TEXAS — In a case involving the mesothelioma death of a longtime jurist in Jefferson County, Texas attributed in part to asbestos remediation at the courthouse, a Texas Appellate Court affirmed the order of the trial court on all issues against defendant/appellant Jefferson County with the exception of the applicability of claims for exemplary damages, which were dismissed. Jefferson County filed an interlocutory appeal based on the trial court’s denial of its jurisdictional challenges. We have previously reported on the Appellate Court’s handling of the…
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