Colorable Federal Officer Defense Leads to Denial of Remand in Shipyard Mesothelioma Case

United States District Court, Eastern District of Louisiana.

Plaintiff Jesse Hernandez filed suit against several defendants alleging he developed mesothelioma while working summers in 1968, 1969 and 1970 at the Avondale Shipyard as a painter’s helper and assistant clerk. During his deposition, he recalled working on board several vessels in the main yard and U.S. Navy destroyers. The defendants removed the case based on federal officer removal. Plaintiff moved to remand.

The Court quickly concluded that the defendants had a colorable federal defense. Relying on …

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Sailor’s Transferred Mesothelioma Case Dismissed for Lack of Jurisdiction

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit.

Plaintiff William Traser filed suit against multiple defendants in the United States District Court for Michigan. Mr. Traser passed away from mesothelioma two years later. His case was then consolidated into the Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) in 1991. Thereafter, his case was transferred to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. His case was then dismissed “for lack of personal jurisdiction in the Northern District of Ohio, where the court perceived the cases had been transferred to decades earlier.” Mr. Traser’s …

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Inference of Exposure Leads to Reversal of Summary Judgment against Boiler Defendant

Plaintiffs filed suit against several defendants including Cleaver Brooks “CB” alleging that their decedent, Ronald Callanan, developed and passed from asbestosis as a result of his exposure to defendants’ products. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Callanan worked with David Wolfe at FM Engineering as a field inspector. Their work included inspecting CB boilers but Wolfe was unable to testify that he saw Callanan inspect those boilers because they worked independently from one another. Callanan also worked with Samuel Sorrels at Protection Mutual until 1987. CB moved …

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Remand Granted After Finding that Removal Period was Triggered by Plaintiffs’ Discovery Responses

NEW YORK – The plaintiffs sued dozens of defendants, including Cleaver-Brooks, alleging that Frederick Brown developed an asbestos-related injury as a result of exposure to the defendant’s products. The complaint was filed in July 2017. The plaintiff served answers to interrogatories in October 2017. The responses stated in pertinent part “…While performing my sheet metal worker duties, I was exposed to asbestos from the work I did as well as from the work of tradesmen around and in close proximity to me who were cleaning, …

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Asbestos Claims Against Bankrupt Entities Barred Under Confirmation Order

United States Bankruptcy Court, D. Maryland. March 02, 2020

The plaintiffs were various entities who filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 in 2001. Their bankruptcy confirmation order set a bar date for the filing of claims by creditors against the entities. Nearly 16 years later, asbestos claimants filed claims for exposure to asbestos in Pennsylvania.  The plaintiffs then filed suit against the asbestos claimants as an adversarial bankruptcy proceeding. Motions for summary judgment were filed by both sides.

The court first set out to …

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Opposite Outcomes in Recent Removals Based on Diversity Hone in on Status of Remaining Defendants

A string of recent decisions on remand motions illustrates that diversity challenges are alive and well in asbestos litigation. As the landscape of defendants changes as trial approaches, so do the defenses. Whether by settlement or dismissal, the remaining defendant or defendants have taken advantage of diversity issues to remove cases to more favorable federal jurisdictions with stark contrast in results. That contrast should give defendants cause for pause prior to removal.

Recently, in Wieland v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., a brake defendant removed the case …

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Filing Date for Latent Asbestos Claimants Found Not to Violate Due Process in Reorganization Plan

United States Court of Appeals Third Circuit, February 18 2020

DELAWARE – The appellants are latent asbestos claimants who did not file by the bar date set by Chapter 11 bankruptcy but who were subsequently diagnosed with mesothelioma. The appellee is Energy Future Holdings Corporation (EFH), which was a holding company for several energy properties. Those subsidiaries became defunct long ago as a result of asbestos litigation. EFH also filed for bankruptcy as a result of vast sums of money owed to asbestos debtors. The …

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Enhanced Workers’ Compensation Benefits Not Owed from Defunct Employer

Supreme Court of Missouri, February 18, 2020

MISSOURI – The claimants filed a workers’ compensation claim for their late father, Vincent Hegger, who developed  mesothelioma. Hegger worked for Valley Farm from 1968 until 1984. His work included service with machinery where he encountered asbestos gaskets and asbestos insulation. Valley Farm had workers’ compensation coverage but ceased operations in 1998.

His children sought enhanced benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. The administrative law judge denied that claim and the children appealed. On appeal, the court …

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Covenant Judgment Found Reasonable Despite Challenge by Insurer

WASHINGTON – United States Fidelity & Guarantee (USF&G) intervened in a recent mesothelioma matter arguing that a covenant judgment entered at the trial level was unreasonable. By way of background, the plaintiffs, Robert and Karen Ulbricht, and their children sought damages from several defendants, including PM Northwest for Robert Ulbricht’s alleged development of mesothelioma. Ulbricht alleged exposure to asbestos while working at the Texaco Oil Refinery in Anacortes, Washington from 1973-1999. PM was alleged to have been the maintenance contractor at the site. However, PM …

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Lack of Causation Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment for Friction Defendant in Lung Cancer Case

NEW YORK – The plaintiff, Glen Schrank, sued multiple defendants, including Ford Motor alleging that he developed lung cancer from his work as an automobile mechanic from approximately 1972-1991. Schrank smoked Parliament filtered cigarettes beginning in 1966 and smoked between one and one and a half packs per day. Ford moved for an order precluding the plaintiff’s expert witnesses or in the alternative a Frye Reed hearing. In support of its position, Ford offered an affidavit from Dr. Anil Vachani. Dr. Vachani’s testimony illustrated various …

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