A Matter of Trust: Promoting Truth in New York Asbestos Trust Claims with Legislative Solutions

Previously on Asbestos Case Tracker, we took a look at the successful efforts of certain states to combat manipulation and abuse of the asbestos bankruptcy trust system. These states passed legislation that prevents claimants from being doubly compensated for alleged exposures to asbestos-containing products manufactured, used, or supplied by bankrupt and viable companies. The legislation enabled defendants in the tort system to obtain evidence of alternative exposures submitted only to bankruptcy trusts but not during the course of personal injury litigation. New York’s Solution New…
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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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Insurer’s Settlement Allocation Entitled to Defense in Dispute with Reinsurer U.S. District Court, N.D. New York, December 3, 2019

NEW YORK — Reinsurer Century Indemnity Company filed a series of motions following an adverse jury verdict in its dispute with Insurer Utica Mutual Insurance Company regarding Utica’s handling of a settlement with Goulds Pumps related to a slew of asbestos claims against Goulds. Century first contended that the judgment should be amended to properly calculate prejudgment interest. According to Century, the jury calculated all prejudgment interest from the date of Utica’s initial billings to Century, when in fact only a fraction of the total…
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Board of Veterans’ Failure to Review Medical Evidence Leads to Remand For Former U.S. Marine United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, December 3, 2019

Martha Tallman appealed a decision from the Board of Veterans denying her husband’s claim for service related respiratory and heart disability. Her husband served with the United States Marine Corps from 1960-1965. He claimed chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, emphysema and ischemic heart disease for exposure to chemicals and asbestos while stationed in Okinawa and at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. At the hearing level, Tallman testified regarding his exposure. The judge “underscored the importance of submitting other medical records” to support his claims. Subsequent to the…
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Motions to Dismiss Denied in Consolidated Cases Brought by Two Groups of Beneficiaries U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana December 2, 2019

LOUISIANA – The plaintiff, Federico Lopez, filed a lawsuit in June 2017 in Louisiana state court alleging his malignant mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to asbestos at unidentified facilities. He passed during the pendency of the lawsuit, and his surviving spouse and child maintained the case (the Lopez action), and asserted a wrongful death claim. On November 8, 2018, the plaintiffs, Jessica and Alfred Soliz, filed suit in Louisiana state court (the Soliz action), asserting strict liability and negligence claims on behalf of Lopez…
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Incorrect Rule Applied to Determine Whether Compensatory Damages Were Excessive; $40.6 Million Verdict Remanded Supreme Court of Delaware, December 2, 2019

DELAWARE – On June 8, 2018, a Delaware jury awarded $40.6 million in compensatory damages to the plaintiff, Paula Knecht, in a case previously reported by this blog. The defendant, Ford Motor Company (Ford), was assessed 20 percent liability, meaning the plaintiff was awarded $8.1 million against Ford. Subsequently, Ford filed two post-trial motions:
  1. for judgment as a matter of law, or in the alternative, a new trial
  2. for a new trial, or in the alternative, remittitur.
The trial judge denied both motions and Ford…
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Plaintiff’s Motion for Leave to File Amend Complaint Against Auto Manufacturer Denied U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania November 25, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA – The plaintiff filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint, after the court granted Ford and AT&T’s motions to dismiss. Ford argued that the motion should be denied because there was no new exposure information. The court denied the motion without prejudice because the plaintiff failed to adhere to longstanding Third Circuit rule that a motion to amend must contain a draft of the amended complaint so that the court can determine if the amendment is futile. Since the plaintiff failed…
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Summary Judgment Granted for Cleaver-Brooks in Shipyard Case U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington November 22, 2019

WASHINGTON – The plaintiff’s decedent, Thomas Deem, worked at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard from 1974 to 1981. Two of Deem’s co-workers testified that he was exposed to asbestos while working around pumps, valves, turbines, compressors, steam traps, and other equipment on various ships as a marine machinist. Cleaver-Brooks filed a motion for summary judgment under maritime law because the plaintiff’s claim for wrongful death under Washington law was previously dismissed as time-barred. Under maritime law, the plaintiff must show that the decedent was actually…
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Plaintiff’s Claims Time Barred Against Defendant After Expiration of Tolling Agreement Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, November 21, 2019

NEW YORK – The defendant Union Carbide Company (UCC) entered into a tolling agreement with the plaintiff’s former counsel that terminated on December 31, 2009. The plaintiff filed the instant matter on July 30, 2013, well after the two year deadline for filing a wrongful death action and three year deadline for filing a personal injury action based on exposure to asbestos. UCC filed for summary judgment based on those facts, which the trial court granted. The plaintiff’s appeal centered on the argument that the…
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Eight Defendants Dismissed Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania November 19, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA – In an order entered on November 19, 2019, Judge Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed eight defendants in the Fend matter based upon the court’s lack of personal jurisdiction over each. The plaintiff was allegedly exposed to asbestos while working on ships and aircraft while serving in the Navy. In a footnote opinion, Robreno stated that, “the court finds no reason to amend its ruling in Sullivan that Pennsylvania’s statutory scheme requiring foreign corporations to register to do business and, therefore,…
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Evidence of Prior Asbestos Lawsuits Against Defendant Discoverable United States District Court, W. D. Kentucky, November 19, 2019

KENTUCKY – The plaintiffs, Jack and Holly Papineau, filed a lawsuit against several defendants alleging damages suffered from exposure to asbestos. The plaintiffs filed a motion to compel the defendant Honeywell to supplement answers to interrogatories and requests for production, specifically regarding prior lawsuits. After oral argument, the court requested that the plaintiffs narrow the scope of their supplemental requests. The plaintiffs complied, requesting information and documents pertaining to all lawsuits filed against Honeywell wherein the claimant alleged an asbestos-related disease from exposure to Honeywell…
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