2021 Mid-Year Review—Courts Resuming In-Person Civil Jury Trials

At the beginning of the year, the Asbestos Case Tracker published its 2020 Year in Review 2021 Judiciary Outlook. As we have just passed the mid-year mark, the Asbestos Case Tracker seeks to update its readers as to the status of the courts and the outlook of the judiciary into the second half of 2021.

Jury trials posed a unique set of issues to chief judges and court administrators throughout the country because of the amount of people needed to assemble in the courthouse. …

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Proof of Claim Bankruptcy Documents Ruled Discoverable with Redaction of Settlement Amounts and Sensitive Medical Information

Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Monroe, July 15, 2021

In this case, the plaintiff moved for a protective order granting partial relief from Subpoenas Duces Tecum served on non-party bankruptcy trusts. The plaintiff requested redactions of information regarding settlement amounts, nonparty-affiant personal information, highly sensitive and personal medical issues, and claim specific identification information generated by the trusts. The plaintiff additionally moved for in-camera inspection citing privacy concerns, while conceding that there was not privilege or prejudice.

The defendants opposed …

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Military Contractor Defense Does Not Apply to Manufacturers of Commercial Insulation

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, July 22, 2021

Plaintiff George Kraemer alleges that he was exposed to asbestos and asbestos-containing products manufactured and sold by defendant Lone Star Industries (Lone Star) that were used at locations where his father worked as an insulator between 1942 and 1945. He also alleges that he was exposed to asbestos through his own workplace. On October 1, 2020, the plaintiff and his wife initiated this action in King County Superior Court against Lone Star and …

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Boiler, Burner, and Furnace Manufacturer Failed to Meet Summary Judgment Burden

Superior Court of Rhode Island, Providence, July 21, 2021

In this asbestos action, Gerard Wallace (decedent) serviced and repaired existing boilers and furnaces, performed coal-to-oil conversions, and installed new boilers and furnaces. Defendant Electrolux moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff did not adduce evidence showing that the decedent worked with or around an Electrolux or Williams Oil-O-Matic product which had original asbestos-containing components manufactured, sold, or supplied by Electrolux or Williams Oil-O-Matic. While the plaintiff attempted to argue that Rhode Island substantive law …

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Purifier Defendant Granted Summary Judgment as Plaintiffs Failed to Establish Causation

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, July 19, 2021

Defendant Alfa Laval filed this present amended motion for summary judgment. The plaintiffs allege the decedent, John Dale Wineland (decedent or Mr. Wineland), worked aboard a series of Navy ships including the USS Dynamic, USS Pledge, USS Loyalty, USS Tuscaloosa, and USS Esteem from 1963 to 1984, where he was exposed to asbestos from Alfa Laval products aboard these ships. The decedent worked in the engine room where he …

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Court Grants Pump Manufacturer’s MSJ Finding No Evidence Decedent was Exposed to Defendant’s Products

U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, July 16, 2021

The plaintiff filed this personal injury action against multiple defendants in the Superior Court of Delaware asserting claims arising from the decedent’s harmful exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff alleges the decedent developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to defendant Nash Engineering Co.’s (Nash) asbestos-containing products during the decedent’s service as a boiler tender in the United States Navy. The lawsuit was removed to federal court on the basis of the federal officer removal …

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Court Denies Boiler Manufacturer’s MSJ Finding Dispute of Fact over Substantial Factor Causation

U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, July 16, 2021

The plaintiff filed this personal injury action against multiple defendants in the Superior Court of Delaware asserting claims arising from the decedent’s harmful exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff alleges the decedent developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to defendant Foster Wheeler’s asbestos-containing equipment during the decedent’s service as a boiler tender in the United States Navy. Foster Wheeler removed the case to federal court based on the federal officer removal statute. Subsequently, Foster …

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Court Grants Valve Manufacturer’s MSJ Finding No Evidence of Exposure

U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, July 16, 2021

The plaintiffs filed this lawsuit alleging the decedent developed lung cancer and died as a result of asbestos exposure from several of the defendants’ products, including Crane Co. The decedent worked for the North Carolina Department of Administration as a plumber. He worked directly on various items, including boilers, pumps, compressors, and piping. The decedent’s brother offered testimony that the decedent worked on Crane Co. boiler steam header valves. However, he was not able …

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Court Allows Parties to Conduct Jurisdictional Discovery Following Product Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, July 15, 2021

Plaintiff Paul Klick III was diagnosed with mesothelioma which he attributes to his exposure to asbestos while serving in the Air Force. The plaintiff contends he was exposed to asbestos through his work involving Abex products while he was stationed in Maine.

Following the plaintiff’s filing of this lawsuit in New Jersey, the matter was removed to federal court on the basis of federal officer jurisdiction. Defendant Abex filed a motion to dismiss …

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Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana Grants Motion to Stay as to All Parties Where Insurer for Certain Defendants Declared Insolvent

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, July 15, 2021

In an action by the plaintiff, former employee of a shipyard, for injuries related to asbestos inhalation and subsequent mesothelioma, the shipyard’s insurer moved to stay all proceedings due to the insurer’s being placed into liquidation in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania as a result of insolvency.

Bedivere Insurance Company, which included by merger Lamorak—the insurer for the several defendants in the action—was declared insolvent and placed in liquidation in March 2021. The …

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Summary Judgment Affirmed for Premises Defendant on Causation Grounds

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston, July 13, 2021

The plaintiff, Thelma Mullins, alleged that the decedent, Donald Mullins, was exposed to asbestos while working at ARCO’s petrochemical plant. The plaintiff claimed that the asbestos exposure caused the decedent to develop mesothelioma, which led to his death. The trial court granted a no-evidence summary judgment in favor of ARCO, which the plaintiff appealed.

By way of background, the plaintiff alleged that the decedent had worked at ARCO’s plant from approximately 1967 to 1983 …

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