Gregory M. McNamee

All articles by Gregory M. McNamee

 

PA Supreme Court to Determine Whether Fair Share Act Applies to Asbestos Cases

On July 31, 2018, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court granted William Roverano’s petition for allowance of appeal from the Superior Court’s December 2017 ruling that the Pennsylvania Fair Share Act applied to asbestos strict liability claims. Specifically, the court accepted review of two issues: 1) Whether, under this issue of first impression, the Superior Court misinterpreted the Fair Share Act 42 Pa.C.S. 7102 in holding that the Act requires the jury to apportion liability on a percentage basis as opposed to a per capita basis in…  

New Jersey Appellate Court Undermines Bare Metal Defense

NEW JERSEY — The plaintiff, Arthur Whelan, worked as a plumber and auto mechanic and later developed mesothelioma.  He filed suit against numerous manufacturers of boilers, valves, steam traps and brake drums.  While the plaintiff did install original products, the bulk of his testimony concerned replacement components used with the products.  Many defendants filed motions for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiff had failed to demonstrate evidence of exposure to a product they sold, manufactured or supplied.  The trial court found the defendants were not liable…  

Claims Against Manville Insurer Permitted to Proceed For Violation of Due Process

NEW YORK — The plaintiff, Salvador Parra, developed asbestosis after working as an insulator in the 1960s and 1970s. He filed suit in 2009 in Mississippi against numerous Manville-related entities, including Marsh USA, Inc., a Manville insurer. In 1986, Marsh contributed $29.75M to the Manville Trust in exchange for a release of all claims “arising out of or relating to services” performed by Marsh for Manville or “in connection with insurance policies issued to” Manville, and an injunction funneling all future such claims into the…  

Remand Affirmed on Appeal Due to Lack of Causal Connection to Support Removal Under Federal Officer Statute

The family of Tyrone Melancon filed suit in Louisiana state court alleging that his development of mesothelioma and subsequent death were caused by his exposure to asbestos at the Huntington Ingalls shipyard where he was employed from 1965 to 1979. The plaintiffs alleged that Huntington Ingalls negligently failed to warn Tyrone Melancon of the dangers of asbestos and failed to implement safety procedures for handling asbestos. Huntington Ingalls removed the case to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, alleging that removal was permissible…  

Take Home Exposure Insufficient to Overcome Demurrer Based Upon Exclusivity Provision of Workers’ Compensation Act

CALIFORNIA — Plaintiffs, Allen and Pamela Rudolph, filed suit against Rudolph & Setten, Inc. (R&S), a general contracting company started by Allen Rudolph’s father, alleging that the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos as a child from take home exposure via his father, and also while employed by the company himself.  R&S filed a demurrer to the suit, alleging that the claims were barred by the exclusivity provision of California’s workers’ compensation act.  The demurrer was sustained by the trial court.  The plaintiffs filed an amended…  

PA Superior Court Affirms Entry of Summary Judgment for Three Friction Defendants

PENNSYLVANIA — The plaintiff, Sharon Gilbert, filed suit as the executive of the estate of her husband, Guy Gilbert, and in her own right, alleging decedent was exposed to asbestos while working as an auto mechanic at Alray Tire in Pittsburgh, PA from 1975 to 1985.  The plaintiff alleged that such exposure caused decedent’s mesothelioma.  The decedent was not deposed before his death.  Two witnesses, decedent’s co-worker and manager at Alray, were deposed.  The manager testified that Alray purchased replacement parts from several automotive suppliers,…  

Judgment on the Pleadings Upheld for Dissolved Washington Corporation

WASHINGTON — The plaintiffs allege that William Clayton developed mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos during his military service. They sued numerous defendants, including Saberhagen Holdings, Inc. (Saberhagen), which was a Washington corporation that dissolved on August 22, 2013. Based on plaintiffs’ failure to file suit against Saberhagen within three years of dissolution, as required by Washington law, Saberhagen filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings. The plaintiffs opposed the motion and filed their own to extend the response deadline. Pursuant to Washington statutory…  

St. Louis Jury Renders $4.69 Billion Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson in Talc Trial

MISSOURI — On July 12, 2018, a St. Louis Circuit Court jury rendered a verdict against Johnson & Johnson in less than eight hours of deliberation following a six week trial involving 22 plaintiffs who alleged their ovarian cancer was caused by J&J talc products.  The jury awarded $25 million to each plaintiff, for a total of $550 million in compensatory damages, and found J&J liable on counts of strict liability and negligence.  The jury then spent less than two hours deliberating the punitive damages…  

Removal Under Federal Enclave Jurisdiction Deemed Timely

PENNSYLVANIA — The plaintiff, Harald Mehnert, filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, alleging he suffered from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure incurred while working on Mass Spectrometers at the U.S. Geological Survey Department in Denver, Colorado, from 1959 to 1995. He filed suit on November 27, 2017 and all defendants were served with process by January 17, 2018. The complaint did not allege the location of the plaintiff’s work. On April 3, 2018, the plaintiff served answers to interrogatories indicating that…  

West Virginia Law Applied in Granting Summary Judgment Due to Speculative Testimony”

DELAWARE — The plaintiff’s decedent, Marchie Dolley, a lifetime non-smoker, passed from lung cancer. The sole product identification witness was his son, Ringo, who testified about his father’s work as a truck mechanic at Ryder Truck Rental and General Truck Delivery. Ringo visited his father at the former job and later worked with him at the latter. He could not offer any specific testimony about how many times he worked on certain manufacturer’s trucks at either job, or whether original or replacement parts were used.…  

Illinois Appellate Court Affirms Summary Judgment on Conspiracy Claims

ILLINOIS — The plaintiff, James Johnson, was diagnosed with asbestosis after working with insulation products in the construction industry, beginning in 1965. He filed suit against numerous defendants, and included a claim that Pneumo Abex LLC, Owens-Illinois, Inc., Metropolitan Life Insurance Company and Honeywell International, Inc. were involved in a civil conspiracy to conceal the dangers of asbestos. The trial court thoroughly reviewed the evidence obtained during discovery and presented at hearings, including the Saranac Study, and determined there was not clear and convincing evidence…  

3M’s Motion for Summary Judgment Regarding Allegedly Defective Respirators Denied

WISCONSIN – In a consolidated case, two plaintiffs asserted strict liability and negligence claims against 3M regarding respirators they wore at a factory which manufactured fireproof doors containing asbestos cores. Both plaintiffs developed mesothelioma from alleged asbestos exposure. The plaintiffs were employed by Weyerhauser for approximately 40 years each. In 1972, a company memo required all employees to wear respirators whenever mineral core was machined or sanded. Testimony provided that plaintiffs wore 3M masks. In that same year, 3M received the necessary certificate of approval…  

Seventh Circuit Upholds Dismiss of John Crane’s Fraud Suit Against Plaintiff’s Counsel Based Upon Lack of Personal Jurisdiction

ILLINOIS – John Crane filed separate lawsuits against two plaintiffs’ law firms, Shein Law Center and Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, alleging fraud, conspiracy and violations of the RICO Act related to asbestos lawsuits filed by the firms against John Crane. Shein Law Center is based in Pennsylvania, while Simon Greenstone is based in Texas. John Crane is an Illinois resident. John Crane filed suit against the firms in the Northern District of Illinois. The district court dismissed both matters due to a lack of personal…  

Iowa Supreme Court Clarifies Issues in Appeal of $6.5 Million Verdict

IOWA — In 2014, the Estate of Larry Kinseth prevailed in a trial against boiler manufacturer, Weil-McLain, in Iowa District Court for Wright County. The plaintiff was awarded $4 million in compensatory damages, of which Weil-McLain was assessed 25 percent liability. The plaintiff then successfully argued for the application of punitive damages against Weil-McLain, and the jury awarded $2.5million in that phase of the trial. Weil-McLain appealed, based mostly on the conduct of the plaintiff’s counsel during closing arguments, and was successful on appeal in…  

Minnesota Court of Appeals Affirms Verdict Against Honeywell

MINNESOTA —  In an unpublished opinion, the Minnesota Court of Appeals affirmed four trial rulings made by the district court. The plaintiff, Ronald Conda, filed a lawsuit in July 2015 against numerous defendants, including Honeywell, alleging asbestos exposure caused his mesothelioma. The plaintiff passed and the complaint was amended into a wrongful death action. The case was first tried before a jury in the spring of 2016. The court granted Honeywell’s motion for a new trial on the basis that plaintiff’s counsel improperly displayed documents…  

Motion to Dismiss Based Upon Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Denied in Maritime Case

LOUISIANA —  The plaintiff, Robert Schindler, filed suit against Dravo Basic Materials Company, Inc. (Dravo), to recover for injuries caused by his development of mesothelioma from allegedly being exposed to asbestos while working for three months in 1973 on a ship owned by Dravo. The ship was operated in Lake Pontchartrain during the relevant time period. The plaintiff filed his complaint under maritime law on November 21, 2017. Dravo responded by filing a motion to dismiss based upon a lack of personal jurisdiction. Dravo argued…  

Supreme Court Accepts Review of Bare-Metal Defense Under Maritime Law

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the petition of Air & Liquid Systems, CBS Corporation and Foster Wheeler to resolve a split among circuits regarding the viability of the bare metal defense under maritime law. Specifically, the parties appealed the Third Circuit’s ruling in October 2017 that the bare metal defense is inapplicable to negligence claims under maritime law. That opinion was previously analyzed by this blog post. The Supreme Court will resolve a split on the issue between the Third…  

Summary Judgment Granted and Request for Continuance Denied Based Upon Lack of Evidence

CALIFORNIA — Defendant, Rohr, Inc., filed a motion for summary judgment based upon a lack of evidence demonstrating the plaintiff was exposed to a Rohr product. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, but failed to present any such evidence in support of their opposition. The plaintiffs also filed a motion to continue, pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56(d), for additional time to conduct discovery. To succeed on such a motion, the moving party must show: 1) an affidavit setting forth the specific facts to…  

Case Remanded Based Upon Lack of Fraudulent Joinder

SOUTH CAROLINA — The plaintiff filed a lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas for Darlington County, South Carolina, alleging that Bertila Boyd-Bostic suffered from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure in the 1980s. On March 2, 2018, a Third Amended Complaint was filed, alleging that Johnson & Johnson, Imerys Talc America, Rite Aid of South Carolina and others were liable for Ms. Boyd-Bostic’s mesothelioma, based upon her use of baby powder. The recently-joined defendants removed the case on April 6, 2018. The plaintiff filed an…  

Motion for Reconsideration Based Upon Change in Law Denied as Untimely

DELAWARE — Plaintiffs Icom and Johanna Evans filed a lawsuit on June 11, 2015 in Delaware Superior Court relating to Mr. Evans’ alleged asbestos exposure. Foster Wheeler removed the matter to federal court on August 4, 2015, pursuant to the federal officer removal statute. Defendants Foster Wheeler and Warren Pumps filed motions for summary judgment in October 2016. Both motions were opposed. The district court issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) on August 30, 2017, recommending that the motions be granted pursuant to maritime law,…  

Legislation Introduced in Pennsylvania to Abolish Lawsuits Against Employers for Asbestos-Related Diseases

PENNSYLVANIA — Republican Pennsylvania State Representative Eli Evankovich introduced a bill on April 2, 2018 to eliminate the ability of employees to sue their employers for asbestos-related diseases. Prior to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s issuance of the Tooey decision in November 2013, Pennsylvania employees were barred from filing suit against their employers due to the exclusivity provision of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation. Those employees could file a workers’ compensation claim if diagnosed within 300 weeks of their last date of exposure, but due to the…  

Louisiana Statute of Limitations Bars Wrongful Death Claim Filed in Delaware

DELAWARE — The plaintiff, Sandra Kivell, filed a wrongful death and survival claim alleging her husband’s death was caused by mesothelioma. He passed on September 5, 2015, and the new claims were filed on September 30, 2016. The plaintiff’s decedent had originally filed a complaint before his death. Georgia-Pacific filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings, arguing that the claims were filed beyond Louisiana’s one year statute of limitations for wrongful death and survival claims. The plaintiff did not contend that the Louisiana statute…  

Pennsylvania Statute Authorized General Personal Jurisdiction if Foreign Corporation Registered in Pennsylvania

PENNSYLVANIA — The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania held that the defendants were subject to general personal jurisdiction due to the consent provision in Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute. The facts are as follows: the plaintiff, Thomas Gorton, alleged he developed mesothelioma as a result of his work at various phone companies and from changing automobile brakes. None of the alleged exposure took place in Pennsylvania. The case was filed in state court and removed to federal court. Defendants Ford Motor Company, Pacific…  

New Evidence Leads to Vacated Final Judgment in Favor of Fertilizer Company

NEW JERSEY — In an unpublished opinion issued by the New Jersey Superior Court, Appellate Division, the plaintiff successfully overturned the entry of summary judgment on the basis of discovery of new evidence. The plaintiff filed suit in 2012, alleging that his application of two bags of Scotts Turf Builder fertilizer twice a year, from 1967 to 1980, caused him to develop mesothelioma. He passed shortly after filing the lawsuit and his wife was substituted as executrix of the estate. The plaintiff alleged that Scotts…  

Pennsylvania’s Long Arm Statute and its Effect on Personal Jurisdiction

In the wake of the Daimler, BNSF, and Bristol-Myers Squibb opinions recently issued by the U.S. Supreme Court, defendants in asbestos cases throughout the country have been challenging personal jurisdiction with greater success. Yet, Pennsylvania remains a difficult jurisdiction for defendants to assert the defense, due to Pennsylvania’s long arm statute. No Pennsylvania state appellate court or federal court has yet ruled on the general personal jurisdiction issue in an asbestos case since the Bristol-Myers Squibb opinion was issued. In the meantime, a split…  

Second Motion to Remand Denied When Plaintiff Asserted Claims She Previously Waived

OREGON — The plaintiff initially filed her lawsuit on behalf of her father’s estate, in Oregon state court, alleging he was exposed to asbestos while working at Norwest Marine & Iron Works Shipyard and Albina Engine & Machine Works Shipyard. Both shipyards serviced military and civilian vessels. Neither the original nor amended complaints contained specific ship information. Defendants GE and CBS removed to federal court based upon the federal officer removal statute after plaintiff provided a ship list. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand,…  

Plaintiffs’ Motion for Reconsideration of Dismissals Based Upon Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Denied

MISSOURI — On June 27, 2017, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri granted several defendants’ motions to dismiss based upon a lack of personal jurisdiction. The plaintiffs subsequently filed a motion to reconsider due to an intervening change in the law, specifically the U.S. Supreme Court’s Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) opinion issued on June 19, 2017. The court noted that such motions, filed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 59, cannot be used to raise arguments which could have been raised…  

Removal Under Federal Officer Removal Statute Held to Begin on Date of Receipt of Deposition Transcript

On February 23, 2017, the plaintiff filed a complaint against Avondale Shipyards, and numerous other defendants, alleging he suffered mesothelioma from his employment at Avondale. The plaintiff was deposed over eight days from March 9 to April 13, 2017. He was cross-examined by counsel for Avondale on March 10 and 20, 2017. On March 28, 2017, counsel for Avondale received a link to the deposition transcript. Avondale removed the matter on the basis of federal officer jurisdiction on April 27, 2017, 30 days following receipt…  

Denial of Remand When Removal Under Federal Officer Removal Statute Deemed Timely

MARYLAND — The plaintiff filed her lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County on June 5, 2015, alleging the decedent was exposed to asbestos at Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point Shipyard as a riveter heater and boiler maker from 1948 through the 1970s. A co-worker was deposed on December 11, 2015, and testified that decedent was exposed to asbestos from Foster Wheeler products while building ships for the Vietnam War. Foster Wheeler removed the case base on the Federal Officer Removal Statute to the U.S.…  

Summary Judgment Affirmed in Delaware Maritime Action Based Upon Lack of Product Identification

DELAWARE — In an unreported opinion issued on November 29, 2017, the Superior Court of Delaware affirmed the entry of summary judgment on behalf of Warren Pumps. The plaintiff, Phillip Walsh, served aboard the USS Halsey and USS Bigelow from 1975 to 1977 as a machinist in the U.S. Navy. He was the only product identification witness offered. He testified that he removed insulation from pumps, and also removed and installed packing and gaskets on the pumps. With regard to the manufacturer of those replacement…  

Summary Judgment Affirmed in Favor of Insulation Suppliers Based Upon Lack of Product Identification

MARYLAND — The Circuit Court for Baltimore County affirmed the entry of summary judgment for two insulation suppliers-installers in a mesothelioma case arising from Bethlehem Steel’s Key Highway Shipyard (KHS), agreeing that the plaintiffs failed to present evidence linking the plaintiff to the products or employees of the insulation defendants. The evidence demonstrated that MCIC, Inc. (formerly the McCormick Asbestos Company) and Wallace & Gale Settlement Trust (formerly the Wallace & Gale Company) both supplied and installed insulation at KHS during the plaintiff’s years of…  

Los Angeles Jury Deliberating in $24M Talcum Product Trial

CALIFORNIA — Closing arguments were conducted on Monday, November 13, 2017 in a trial against Johnson & Johnson and its supplier, Imerys Talc America Inc., alleging that asbestos in talcum powder caused the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. The plaintiff’s counsel argued that Johnson & Johnson and Imerys pushed to delay regulation of talc for years, and that the companies advocated for methods of testing their products for asbestos that could not detect the levels actually present. The plaintiff suffers from mesothelioma, and her life is predicted to…  

After Close of Discovery Motion for Release of Pathology Materials Granted

NORTH CAROLINA — Defendant John Crane filed a motion for an order governing the release of pathology materials following the close of discovery. Although pathology materials had been requested from the plaintiff’s counsel nearly a year and a half prior to the discovery end date, they were not produced until eight days after that deadline had passed. John Crane then learned that there were additional pathology materials in the possession of Duke University Hospital System (DHUS). John Crane requested the additional slides in April 2017,…  

Res Judicata Bars Plaintiff’s Mesothelioma Claim Against Prior Settled Defendant

LOUISIANA — The decedent filed an asbestosis lawsuit in 1991 against Owens-Illinois and other defendants. Owens-Illinois settled the claim for $4,000 as part of a group settlement. The Release Agreement stated that the decedent agreed to release the defendant from any cause of action arising out of the decedent’s asbestos-related injury, including mesothelioma, cancer, wrongful death and survival claims. Seventeen years after executing the Release Agreement, the decedent was diagnosed with mesothelioma and eventually passed. His wife and children brought a second action against Owens-Illinois…  

Lack of Service on Forum Defendants Fails to Defeat Removal Due to Diversity Jurisdiction

LOUISIANA — The plaintiffs originally filed their petition in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, after William Leech died of mesothelioma. The plaintiffs were residents of Arizona and named numerous defendants, including three who were Louisiana residents. Nine days after the petition was filed, and before any other defendants were served, defendant Honeywell International removed the action to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, which was uncontested. The decedent was a construction engineer who alleged asbestos exposure…