Joseph J. Welter

All articles by Joseph J. Welter

 

Asbestos Litigation: Did We Forget These Are Warnings Cases?

In the world of asbestos, the predominant claim against defendants is that they should have warned against the dangers of asbestos. Typically, plaintiffs prove exposure to a product, absence of any warning (or an adequate warning) and damages. The jury verdict sheet simply reads something like, “Was defendant negligent in manufacturing, selling or supplying a product without an adequate warning” and “was that negligence a substantial factor in causing plaintiff’s injury.” Unlike all other products liability warnings cases, a plaintiff seems to be held to…  

Defense Verdict in New Jersey Cosmetic Talc Case Under New Jersey’s Product Liability Act

In a case of first impression under New Jersey’s Product Liability Act, a Middlesex County, New Jersey jury returned a defense verdict in a mesothelioma case involving a 60-year-old plaintiff who claimed exposure to cosmetic talcum powder products in the 1950s-1970s that were allegedly contaminated with trace amounts of asbestos. The jury found that Shulton, Inc., the supplier of some of the products to which the plaintiff claimed exposure, and Whittaker, Clark & Daniels, Inc., the supplier of some of the raw talc used to…  

California Court Holds Refractory Contractor Established Insufficient Evidence of Exposure and Grants Summary Judgment

The plaintiff commenced this wrongful death claim alleging the decedent was exposed to asbestos while J.T. Thorpe & Sons was performing refractory work around boilers. Thorpe moved for summary judgment on the ground that there was insufficient evidence decedent was actually in the vicinity of Thorpe employees working with refractory materials. The court concluded that the plaintiff has some threshold burden of establishing some factual basis for exposure and that Thorpe met it initial burden that there was insufficient evidence of exposure: “Thorpe has satisfied…  

Bacon is the New Asbestos! Really?

So, this is a perfect example of the realities of this world and how state of the art can be distorted. The World Health Organization has indicated that processed foods, such as bacon, sausage and hot dogs are in the same category as smoking and asbestos in terms of their potential to cause cancer. The news reports that have come out in the last few days barely touch upon the science and medical aspects, yet here come the sound “bites” that processed food is deadly.…  

A Call for an Evidence Based Approach in Asbestos Lung Cancer Cases: Better Late Than Never?

My friend and colleague Laura Kingsley Hong recently authored an article entitled “Controversies Regarding The Role of Asbestos Exposure in the Causation of Lung Cancer: The Need for An Evidence Based Approach,” which appeared in Mealey’s Litigation Report. Ms. Hong’s commentary ties together current medicolegal concepts that are applied in virtually every scientifically-based litigation to longstanding but evolving scientific issues in asbestos litigation. While this is a debate that needs to happen, it raises the interesting question of why now and why not before? In…  

The High Court Down Under Allows Earlier Cause of Action Accrual in Lawsuits Claiming Inevitable Onset of Mesothelioma

On October 7, 2015, the High Court of Australia dismissed the appeal of a negligent employer and held that where the contraction of mesothelioma was an inevitable result of asbestos exposure, the cause of action accrues shortly after the initial exposure as opposed to when the symptoms manifest. This ruling came from a case in which the plaintiff inhaled asbestos fibers in the course of his employment. The plaintiff’s mesothelial cells changed quickly after the initial exposure, but the symptoms were not apparent until 2013…  

Thoracic Surgeon Provides Heated Chemo, Hope for Veterans With Pleural Mesothelioma

Good news has come out of Boston for veterans suffering from mesothelioma.  Thoracic surgeon Dr. Abraham Lebenthal recently performed the first intraoperative heated chemotherapy procedure for a VA patient with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a procedure that should aid in this hard-fought battle against this cancer.  As Lebenthal said in an interview, “[f]or some veterans, it could mean the difference between long-term survival or not.” While some doctors have differing opinions as to this heated chemotherapy’s effectiveness, Dr. Lebenthal has been lobbying for its use…  

Texas Federal Court Ruled Primary Carrier Was Entitled to Reimbursement for Settlement Payments But Not Defense Costs in Connection with Underlying Asbestos Cases

LGS Technologies, LP v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., No. 2:07-CV-399, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139085 (E.D. Tex. Aug 14, 2015) On October 12, 2015, the district court from the Eastern District of Texas filed an order, accepting the report and recommendation of the Special Master in connection with an asbestos insurance coverage dispute between a variety of primary and excess carriers.   LGS Technologies, LP (LGS), a gasket company, had both primary policies from 1980-83 with ACE, primary policies from 1983-1993 and excess policies from 1986-1993…  

Legislative Reform for Timely Disclosure of Settlements: What Do You Think?

Much has been made about the injustice of plaintiffs being able to game the system by potentially seeking excess recovery through a combination of claims asserted against bankruptcy trusts and in civil litigation. This has led to bankruptcy transparency legislation at the state and federal level, because defendants in asbestos litigation were being denied a full and fair opportunity to assess a plaintiff’s claim of asbestos exposure and to identify all the companies, both viable and bankrupt, that are allegedly responsible.  The fundamental principles are…  

Insurer Claims that Firm Overbilled by $3M in Asbestos Lawsuits

On Monday, October 5, 2015 a Swiss Re insurer filed suit in a California federal court claiming that a law firm billed $3 million extra in several asbestos lawsuits.  Initially, Westport Insurance Corp. launched an investigation into Vasquez Estrada & Conway LLP’s billing practices after it became suspicious of a firm partner’s estimates for defending Hill Brothers Chemical Co. In the complaint, the insurer alleges that Vasquez Estrada attorneys billed insurers more than $9 million for two years of work defending Hill Brothers, $6 million…  

Pre-Judgment Interest Above Policy Limits Recoverable Under Pennsylvania Law

General Refractories Company (GRC) has been named as a defendant in over 30,000 asbestos lawsuits since 1978. In 2002, GRC tendered to it excess carriers, including Travelers Casualty (Travelers) and Surety Company (formerly The Aetna Casualty and Surety Company) under a 1985-86 policy. Travelers denied coverage under an asbestos exclusion.  GRC proceeded to settle many of the underlying claims and pursued coverage from Travelers.  In March 2015, the United States District Court ruled that the asbestos exclusion was unenforceable, leaving only a calculation of damages…  

Asbestos Firm Ordered to Turn Over Client Information in Garlock RICO Case

U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen affirmed a previous judge’s refusal to quash subpoenas issued by Garlock Sealing Technologies to 29 law firms, including Baron & Budd, Brayton Purcell, and Williams Kherker Hart Boundas. Garlock argued that the client records sought from these firms could help establish a pattern of racketeering by Belluck & Fox.  Though Judge Mullen agreed with Belluck & Fox’s assertion that the discovery requests were broad, he noted, “[y]et, so is the fraud in which Plaintiffs are alleged to have engaged.” In…  

Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Denies Constitutionality Appeal of Asbestos-Related Liability Regulatory Statute

On September 29, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied the appeal of the executor of the estate of James Markovsky.  Markovsky, who had argued that a statute regulating asbestos-related liability should be found unconstitutional, had petitioned for appeal after the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of Crown Cork & Seal Co. Originally, on October 6, 2011, Markovsky filed a complaint against Crown alleging that he contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the asbestos products of…  

Pittsburgh Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Secondary Exposure Friction Case

Plaintiff Larry English commenced this wrongful death mesothelioma case by claiming that his wife, Sherry English, was exposed to asbestos on Mr. English’s clothing. Mr. English, who worked for a variety of Ford dealerships between 1968 and 2011, worked with gaskets, brakes, and clutches. His claim is that the asbestos from these products remained on his clothing when he went home, allegedly exposing Mrs. English to asbestos. The plaintiff also claimed exposure to joint compound in connection with work in the home. Mrs. English was…  

NYCAL Court Rules a Plumber Dismantling a Sectional Boiler Was a Foreseeable User of That Product

In this NYCAL mesothelioma case, the plaintiff worked as a plumber from 1984-1996, disassembling plumbing equipment including Cleaver Brooks cast iron sectional boilers.  Cleaver Brooks initially moved for summary judgment on the grounds that a plumber such as the plaintiff was not a foreseeable user of the product, which the lower court denied. The Appellate Division then issued a decision in Hockler v William Powell Co., 129 AD3d 463 (1st Dept. 2015), holding that a salvaging and dismantling valve was not a foreseeable use of…  

New Jersey Legislation Proposing to Change Statute of Limitations for Mesothelioma Cases

On September 24, 2015, legislation was introduced in New Jersey that would create new Statute of Limitations for civil actions for personal injury and wrongful death caused by mesothelioma. First, the bill would amend New Jersey statute § 2A:14-2, actions for injury caused by wrongful act, appointment of guardian ad litem.  It would add a subsection stating that an action for damages for damages for personal injury from mesothelioma related to exposure to asbestos may be commenced at any time, and that such action shall…  

NYCAL Jury Returns $25 Million Verdict in Mesothelioma Case

A NYCAL jury returned a $25 million verdict in a living mesothelioma case in favor of a 64-year-old mechanic, who worked at a variety of dealerships and gas stations in Colorado and Virginia, among other places, over the years. Defendant Ammco was a manufacturer of brake grinders and was found liable on a failure to warn theory. While the jury also apportioned responsibility to nine of the 10 other companies on the verdict sheet, it found Ammco 86 percent responsible, which in New York makes…  

The Science Will Drive the Future of Asbestos Litigation. What Do You Think?

What do you think is the single most important factor that will dictate the direction of asbestos litigation across the country, now and in the future? Intelligent minds may differ and we welcome your views. Having practiced in this area for over twenty years, for me the single most important area that will drive this litigation into the future is the science. As the nature of asbestos exposure and diseases continues to evolve after 35-plus years of litigation, the science is more interesting today than…  

Missouri Court, Applying Maryland Law, Upholds $4 Million Verdict, Rejecting Arguments on Expert Challenges, Offsets, and Defective Damages Verdict

In this case, the plaintiff worked as a steamfitter between 1958 and 1983 at a variety of industrial and commercial sites. Of the original 57 defendants, only valve manufacturer Nibco, Inc. went to trial, which resulted in a $4 million plaintiff’s verdict with the trial court applying Maryland law. On appeal, Nibco raised four issues: it should have been granted a directed verdict; the plaintiff’s experts were allowed to offer opinions based on facts not in evidence; the lower court improperly denied setoff rights; and…  

Louisiana Federal Court Grants Three Defendants’ Summary Judgment Motions Due to Lack of Exposure

The plaintiff commenced this wrongful death mesothelioma case, alleging in part that his father was exposed to asbestos-containing products while in the U.S. Naval Reserve in the 1950s and 1960s. The defendants, GE, CBS, and Foster Wheeler, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s evidence was insufficient to establish the decedent’s exposure to their products. The plaintiff opposed the motion with an expert affidavit, described by the court as follows: “Plaintiff relies on the expert report of Laurence Durio, who opined that Mr. Laurent…  

Wisconsin Federal Court Refuses to Enforce Settlement and Ruled Defendant Waived Defenses of Standing, Mootness, and Issue Preclusion

The plaintiff sued the defendant, Owens-Illinois, for injuries caused to the decedent by asbestos exposure, which proceeded in multidistrict litigation for many years and was transferred back to the District Court of Wisconsin in 2014. A settlement agreement had apparently been reached, which the plaintiff’s estate representative claimed was not authorized. After the district court refused to enforce the settlement, Owens-Corning moved to dismiss the case on three grounds: the plaintiff lacked standing as the estate representative; the plaintiff’s action is moot because she failed…  

Court of Appeals Upholds Lower Court’s Rulings Denying Caterpillar’s Motions for Summary Judgment, a New Trial, and to Vacate Jury Award

In this case, it was alleged that the decedent, Edwin Estenson, was exposed to asbestos while in the Navy from 1948 to 1952 and while working on Caterpillar equipment for three contractors between 1955 and the late 1960s. Prior to trial, Caterpillar’s  motion for summary judgment was denied.  Following trial, where Caterpillar was the only defendant, the jury awarded the plaintiff a verdict of approximately $4.5 million. Caterpillar subsequently appealed the court’s denial of its motion for summary judgment, motion for a new trial, and…  

Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment on Judicial Estoppel Grounds Denied Because Plaintiff Did Not Act in Bad Faith When He Failed to Disclose His Asbestos Lawsuit in Subsequent Bankruptcy Filing

The plaintiff claims he developed an asbestos-related illness as a result of exposure to asbestos while working aboard various ships. The plaintiff originally brought his asbestos-related claims against several defendants in 1997. His claims were administratively dismissed in a manner allowing for those claims to be brought at a later time; the claims were reinstated in 2001, but there was no evidence that the plaintiff had been informed that his lawsuit had been reinstated.  Following the reinstatement, the plaintiff filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 7…  

Court Rejects Plaintiffs’ Experts’ Opinions Because They Did Not Read Plaintiff’s Deposition Testimony and Grants Summary Judgment Based on Insufficient Product Exposure

In this mesothelioma case, plaintiff James Shiffer worked at a power plant for several months in 1969 and 1970, during which time he claimed exposure to a Westinghouse turbine with asbestos-containing components that was present at the plant. Westinghouse moved for summary judgment because “…[t]here is no dispute Shiffer did not repair or maintain any Westinghouse equipment, and did not install or remove any insulation material himself. Nor is there any dispute that no already-installed insulation was removed or disturbed during Shiffer’s time at Ginna.”…  

Court Provides Mixed Ruling in Applying Kansas Law and Granting Summary Judgment to One Defendant, but not the Other

In this case, the plaintiff, John New, alleged exposure to asbestos while working at various businesses in Kansas and Missouri. Defendants Hennessy Industries and Caterpillar Incorporated moved to apply Kansas law and for summary judgment. The court granted in part Hennessy’s motion and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint. The court found that Kansas law “possesses the most significant relationship to these parties and causes of actions.” In its assessment, the court reviewed four factors: the place of exposure and diagnosis, where the conduct causing the injury…  

State of The Art Experts Drs. Markowitz and Rosner Found Qualified to Testify

In this case, the plaintiff, John New, alleged exposure to asbestos while working at various businesses in Kansas and Missouri. Defendant Caterpillar Incorporated moved to strike the expert state of the art testimony of historians Dr. Gerald Markowitz and Dr. David Rosner, arguing that “…(1) their testimony will not assist the jury in deciding any issue in this case; (2) they fail to qualify as ‘experts’ under Rule 702; (3) their report was written solely for the purposes of litigation; (4) their report is unreliable…  

Connecticut Appellate Court Affirms Dismissal of Asbestos Action for Failure to Prosecute the Action with Reasonable Diligence

The plaintiff’s decedent brought this personal injury action in August 2009, alleging that his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos from several defendants’ products. The plaintiff’s decedent died a few days after the commencement of this action and before any deposition testimony or product identification evidence was disclosed. The plaintiff was appointed as executrix of the decedent’s estate less than a month after his death. In November 2012, three years after the decedent’s death, the trial court set a trial date. The defendants moved…  

Court Refuses to Dismiss Garlock’s RICO Complaints Against Plaintiff Law Firms

Following the well-publicized decision in the Garlock bankruptcy, Garlock commenced a number of actions in federal court against asbestos plaintiffs’ law firms that allegedly engaged in fraud in the settlement of their clients’ mesothelioma claims against Garlock. In two of these actions, the defendant plaintiffs’ firms moved to dismiss the complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) on a variety of grounds, including that the claims were time-barred. One of the arguments was that Garlock knew of the alleged misrepresentations so long ago that…  

Court Applies Delaware’s Borrowing Statute in Granting Defendants’ Summary Judgment on Statute of Limitations

In this case, the plaintiff alleged that his lung cancer was caused by exposure to several defendants’ asbestos-containing products while he was working in Michigan. The plaintiff and his wife filed their claim in Delaware and all defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing that the action was untimely under the Delaware statute of limitations, which they claimed applied pursuant to Delaware’s “Borrowing Statute,”10 Del. C. 8121. The court agreed and granted defendants’ motions for summary judgment. The court pointed out that the parties had agreed…  

Plaintiff’s Expert B Reader Found Qualified to Testify on Exposure and Causation

In this federal court case, the defendants moved to preclude the testimony of the plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Matthew Vuskovich, arguing that he was not qualified to testify, his testimony was not sufficiently reliable, and his opinions were based on the “every exposure” theory. The court denied the motion, finding Dr. Vuskovich’s credentials as a certified B Reader to be adequate. Regarding the reliability of his testimony and the “every exposure” argument, the court held: “Dr. Vuskovich does state that asbestosis is a cumulative disease, which…  

Plaintiff’s Expert Found Qualified to Testify and Pump Manufacturer Denied Summary Judgment on Frequency, Regularity, and Proximity Argument

In this federal court case, the plaintiff alleges that he was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy from 1954 to 1958 while aboard the USS Roosevelt, USS Bremerton, and USS Intrepid. Several defendants moved to limit the trial testimony of the plaintiff’s proffered expert, Dr. Jerome Spear, arguing that his report and testimony rely on the “every exposure” theory, his opinions are based on unreliable scientific methodology, and his testimony would not assist the jury. The defendant, Ingersoll-Rand Company (“Ingersoll-Rand”), also moved for…  

John Crane Inc. Establishes Prima Facie Entitlement to Summary Judgment

In this federal court case, defendant John Crane Inc. moved for summary judgment. The plaintiffs did not oppose the motion, and the court stated that it “may consider the forecast of evidence presented by the movant to be undisputed for the purposes of the present motion. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(e)(2).” In granting Crane summary judgment, the court held: “To prove causation in North Carolina, a plaintiff in a personal injury asbestos case ‘must present “evidence of exposure to a specific product on a…  

Preclusion of Plaintiff’s Expert Witness and Defendant’s Investigation of Juror Do Not Warrant New Trial

In this federal case, the plaintiff, Charles Krik, sued Owens-Illinois and ExxonMobil and claimed they negligently exposed him to asbestos, causing his lung cancer. The case went to trial and a verdict was returned in favor of the defendants as the jury found that the plaintiff’s smoking was the sole cause of his lung cancer. The plaintiff subsequently moved for a new trial, arguing that the exclusion of his expert was in error and prejudicial and that Mobil’s investigation of contact between the plaintiff and…  

Federal Court Refuses to Maintain Supplemental Jurisdiction After Plaintiff Amends Complaint

In this federal court case, the decedent, Thomas Maguire alleged exposure to asbestos while he served as a metalsmith in the Navy between 1958 and 1961, and then again while working as a steamfitter aboard Navy ships between 1962 and 1963. The defendant, Crane Co. removed the case to federal court based on the federal officer statute 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). The plaintiff’s original motion to remand was denied, but they were granted leave to amend the complaint to remove all federal claims and defenses. The…  

National Grid Successfully Opposes Co-Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Cross-Claims

In this NYCAL action, the plaintiff, Michael Koulermos claimed he developed mesothelioma from working near employees of Treadwell Corp. while he was employed at the Northport Power Station. The plaintiff subsequently agreed to a no-opposition summary judgment motion on behalf of Treadwell. However, the co-defendant, National Grid, opposed the motion’s requested dismissal of any cross-claims. The court agreed with National Grid and held: “Treadwell has failed to establish a prima facie case that National Grid’s cross-claims have no merit. Treadwell makes no specific argument as…  

Court Grants Non-Party Expert’s Motion to Quash Subpoena Even Though Items Sought Deemed Relevant

In this federal court motion, Dr. Arthur Frank moved to quash the subpoena served on him by Honeywell International Inc. as a defendant in a pending Eastern District of North Carolina asbestos case, Yates v. Ford Motor Co., et al.  Honeywell subpoenaed Dr. Frank, a prolific plaintiff’s expert in asbestos cases and a non-party to the North Carolina action, concerning his successful lobby of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) to change language on its website and in its “Fact Sheets” regarding cancer risks to…  

California Appellate Court Holds No Duty for Vessel Owner Based on No Active Control

In this mesothelioma case, the decedent worked for a vessel repair company and performed repair work on a vessel involving pipe insulation possibly containing asbestos. His estate sued the vessel owner under “both the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 United States Code section 905(b) (the Act, or section 905(b)) and state law.” The vessel owner moved for summary judgment on a number of  grounds, including that it did not actively control the area where the alleged exposure occurred. The lower court granted the…  

Plaintiffs’ Concession to Not Pursue Navy Exposure Results in Remand Under Federal Officer Removal Statute

In this case, the plaintiffs claimed that the decedent was exposed to asbestos in connection with force draft blowers manufactured by Carrier Corporation and another defendant while in the Navy on board the USS Edson. The plaintiffs moved to remand after Carrier removed the case based on federal officer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). In granting the motion to remand, the court accepted the plaintiffs’ argument that despite the exposure, they expressly disclaimed any intention to pursue damages in connection with any Navy exposure: “In…  

Outside Contractor Granted Summary Judgment Under Frequency, Proximity, and Regularity Proximate Cause Analysis

In this Maryland case, the plaintiff’s decedent was exposed to asbestos while aboard various Naval vessels. He claimed to have walked by outside contractors installing bulkhead Marinite panels and insulation while heading to and from the engine rooms. Defendant Hopeman moved for summary judgment based on product identification grounds.  Applying Maryland law, the court denied Hopeman’s motion on product identification grounds, even though that portion of the motion was unopposed, finding that the defendant had failed to meet its burden of proof that the work…  

Another Jurisdictional Battle Results in Transfer of Venue from Tennessee to Louisiana In Asbestos Case

In this case, the plaintiff filed the lawsuit in United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee, Nashville Division, based on his residence. Seven of the defendants moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, which caused the plaintiff to move for a transfer of venue to Louisiana. The court found that Louisiana had a sufficient connection to the claimed exposure: “The Western District of Louisiana is the judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to…  

Plaintiff’s Expert Found Qualified to Testify, But Not Allowed to Give “Every Exposure” Causation Testimony

In this federal case, the decedent, Sally Gros Vedros alleges exposure to asbestos from laundering her father’s work clothes during the time he worked as a welder at the Avondale shipyard, from 1943-1976, and while she worked in the Avondale purchasing department, from 1960-1963. The defendants moved to exclude the plaintiff’s expert’s causation opinions at trial, arguing the expert, radiation oncologist Dr. Stephen Kraus, was not qualified to testify as an expert and that his causation opinions were not reliable because they relied on the…  

Valve Manufacturer’s Bare Metal Motion for Summary Judgment Denied

It is alleged in this NYCAL case that the decedent, Russell Gonzales, was exposed to asbestos products, including insulation on valves manufactured by Crane Co., in the 1970s at various sites throughout New York City. The decedent died prior to testifying, but his co-worker, Joseph Zgombic testified that he and the decedent were responsible for insulating Crane valves and that they worked near others repacking Crane valves. Crane moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to prove the decedent had exposure to asbestos…  

Applying Alabama Law In Two Cases, Federal Court Grants One Motion and Denies Another to Engine Manufacturers Under Bare Metal Defense

In one case, the plaintiff claimed that the decedent was exposed to asbestos while working on Cummins engines in the Navy and Coast Guard. Defendant Cummins moved for summary judgment, arguing that the engines were 17 years old and were overhauled at least once. There was no proof the gasket materials were original to the engine. The plaintiff also argued that the decedent was exposed to asbestos blankets and lagging on the engines. The court recognized that Alabama would recognize the bare metal defense and,…  

Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied as Complaint Did Not Put Defendants on Notice of Federal Claims

In this federal court case, the plaintiff alleged exposure to various products while working at various worksites as a machinist, pipefitter, and electrician during the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. Several defendants removed the case based on the federal officer removal statute 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) alleging that the federal court had jurisdiction because there is a “government contractor defense” to the claims.  The plaintiff moved to remand arguing that the removal was untimely as the defendants were initially put on notice of the federal claims from…  

Defendant Granted Summary Judgment Despite Allowance of Late Evidence of Product on Site

In this federal court case, the decedent, Wayne Perkins, alleges exposure to various asbestos products while working as a merchant mariner between 1952 and 1973. Defendant Honeywell International Inc., successor-in-interest to Bendix Corporation, moved for summary judgment,  arguing there is no evidence of the decedent being exposed to asbestos from a product manufactured by it or its predecessor. Despite discovery being closed, the court allowed affidavits of individuals who worked with the decedent, which were submitted by the plaintiff in opposition to Honeywell’s motion. However,…  

Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Verdict Based on Defendant Being Precluded from Introducing Alternative Exposure Evidence

In this Illinois case, the plaintiff claimed at that he was exposed to asbestos at property owned by the defendant. At trial, the defendant sought to introduce into evidence other substantial asbestos exposure at a different unrelated facility. The defendant’s argument was that the other, more substantial exposure was the sole proximate cause of the plaintiff’s asbestosis, not the minimal asbestos exposure at defendant’s facility. After a lengthy discussion of Illinois’ case law on proximate cause and burden, the appellate court decided the trial court…  

Plaintiffs’ Replacement Expert’s Testimony Limited in Scope to That of Originally Disclosed Expert

In this case, the plaintiffs timely disclosed the expert report of Dr. Samuel Hammar in accordance with the case scheduling order. Subsequently, Dr. Hammar was unable to provide trial testimony due to health issues and the plaintiffs sought to replace Dr. Hammar’s report with reports from either Dr. Kraus or Dr. Kradin. The defendants did not generally oppose the request to replace Dr. Hammar, but did oppose the replacement of one expert with two and argued that the new expert’s testimony should not go outside…  

Defendants Unsuccessful in Removal Effort Based on Diversity

In this New Jersey case, two defendants moved for summary judgment, motions for which were not opposed by the plaintiff. Following the dismissal of the two defendants, those remaining removed the case under 28 U.S.C. 1441(a) and 1446(b)(3) based on diversity of citizenship.  Under these sections, if a plaintiff voluntarily dismisses non-diverse parties — creating diversity of citizenship for the remaining parties — the case can be removed to federal court. In response to the plaintiff’s motion to remand, the remaining defendants argued that the…  

Willful and Wanton Claim Dismissed in Asbestos Case

In this case, the plaintiff worked as an auto mechanic and performed brake work in the 1960s and 1970s.  Defendant Genuine Auto Parts moved for summary judgment, seeking to dismiss the plaintiff’s claim for willful and wanton conduct. The plaintiff opposed the motion, essentially pointing to the general state of knowledge as to the hazards of asbestos, but failed to offer any evidence that Genuine Auto Parts consciously made a decision to sell asbestos-containing products with knowledge of the decision. The dismissal of the claim…  

Brake Manufacturer Obtains Dismissal of Claims of Willful and Wanton Conduct

In this federal court case, the plaintiffs alleged exposure to asbestos from a variety of automotive parts while working as mechanics’ helper, maintenance laborer, inspector, construction worker, and salesman, in addition to automotive maintenance work performed on his own personal vehicles and those of his family. The defendant, brake manufacturer Genuine Parts, moved for summary judgment to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims that it committed false representation and fraud regarding the dangers of asbestos exposure. The plaintiffs opposed, offering among other things historical documents, an expert…