Summary Judgment Granted for Cleaver-Brooks in Shipyard Case

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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Eight Defendants Dismissed Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

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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Attempt to Revive MARDOC Cases on Jurisdiction Fails as to all but Four Appellants

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

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

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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Sugar Refinery Defendant’s Appeal of Trial Verdict Denied

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

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 – 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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Two Discovery Disputes Resolved in Favor of Plaintiff; One Resolved in Favor of Toyota

WASHINGTON – The court recently ruled on a motion for protective order filed by the defendants, Toyota Motor Corporation and Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. (collectively, Toyota), regarding second amended notices of deposition directed to their corporate representatives, pursuant to F.R.C.P. 30(b)(6). Toyota objected to a series of inquiries, which were distilled down to three primary areas:

  1. Overbreadth and disproportionality as to time frame
  2. Overbreadth and disproportionality as to products at issue
  3. Invasion of attorney-client privilege and/or work product protections.

Toyota provided red-lined versions of …

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Pump Defendant Granted Summary Judgment Based on Lack of Proximate Exposure

WASHINGTON – In a case extensively covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the court granted the summary judgment motion of pump defendant Ingersoll-Rand. Rudie Klopman-Baerselman, the decedent, alleged that he developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos through his work on equipment while he served in the Merchant Marines. As proof of exposure, the plaintiff had produced documents indicating the presence of Ingersoll-Rand pumps and compressors aboard ships on which the decedent served, as well as expert reports opining that he would have …

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