Jury Returns Verdict for Decedent, Finding Asbestosis Resulted from Railroad Brake Work

VIRGINIA – A jury in Norfolk Circuit Court issued a $5 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff Danielle Caraco (plaintiff) on behalf of the decedent Stephen Fowlkes (decedent), finding that the decedent had been diagnosed with asbestosis as a result of his exposure to asbestos-containing railroad brakes during his employment at Norfolk Southern Railway Company (Norfolk).

The decedent had worked as a repair man who changed out asbestos-containing railroad car brake shoes for a decade during the 1980s. Once the decedent fell ill and …

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Preclusion of Plaintiff Experts Leads to Defense Win in First Philly Talc Trial

PENNSYLVANIA – The plaintiff Charles Brandt (plaintiff), on behalf of the decedent Sally Brandt (decedent), commenced an asbestos-related action against, among other defendants, Colgate-Palmolive Company (Colgate), alleging that the decedent’s use of Colgate’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder exposed the decedent to asbestos, resulting in her mesothelioma diagnosis.

Following a Frye hearing, the Philadelphia County Court of Common Pleas precluded the expert opinions of the plaintiff’s geologist and pathologist, finding numerous methodological flaws in their research claiming asbestos was found in Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder. Colgate …

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Brake Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment on Basis of De Minimis Exposure

DELAWARE – The plaintiff Elizabeth Alice Dove (Plaintiff) alleges that her father Gus Dove (Mr. Dove) developed lung cancer and other asbestos-related diseases because of his exposure to a variety of asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold, or supplied by the defendants – among them, Honeywell – during the course of Mr. Dove’s career and through shade-tree mechanic work. Honeywell successfully moved for summary judgment under Rule 56(a) on multiple grounds, the primary one involving insufficient product identification under Delaware’s “Product Nexus Standard.”

Mr. Dove gave discovery …

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California Immune from Asbestos Exposure Civil Rights Claim by Prisoner-Employee

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff Darryl Schilling (plaintiff), incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, filed a civil rights action, pro se, asserting that his constitutional rights were violated under Section 1983 by the defendant California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) since it showed “knowing indifference” to the plaintiff’s health and safety in having him work at the San Quentin furniture factory in a position that exposed the plaintiff to asbestos; rebuffing his stated concerns; and, eventually, retaliating by firing him for his complaints.  CALPIA filed a …

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Insured’s Asbestos Claims Considered Multiple Occurrences But With Aggregate Limits

PENNSYLVANIA – The plaintiff Ohio Valley Insulating Company (OVI) filed a motion for partial summary judgment and the defendants Continental Insurance Company, Zurich American Insurance Company, and Granite State Insurance Company (collectively, Insurers) cross-moved for summary judgment. The court granted and denied in part both motions.

With regard to the first legal issue addressed by the Western District of Pennsylvania, OVI sought a declaration that various asbestos-related suits filed against it were based on multiple occurrences related to OVI’s “operations” (installation and removal of asbestos-containing …

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On Reversal, Aircraft Manufacturer Successfully Obtains Removal on Federal Officer Grounds

ILLINOIS – The plaintiffs Bruce and Barbara Betzner (plaintiffs) commenced a lawsuit in Illinois State Court (Madison County) against, among other defendants, Boeing Company (Boeing), alleging that, during the course of the plaintiff Bruce Betzner’s (Mr. Betzner) employment, he was exposed to asbestos-containing products, resulting in his mesothelioma diagnosis. With particular regard to Boeing, the plaintiffs allege that Mr. Betzner’s assembly of heavy bomber aircraft for the United State Air Force, which involved the installation of Boeing components, exposed him to asbestos.

Boeing filed a …

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New Behrens Article Proposes Legislation to Promote Bankruptcy Trust Transparency & Fairness to All Parties

In most cases asserting asbestos-related injuries resulting from alleged exposure, the plaintiffs will also file proof of claims (POCs) with asbestos bankruptcy trusts. These trusts are set up when companies that mined or supplied asbestos or manufactured asbestos-containing products can no longer afford to defend a barrage of costly asbestos-exposure lawsuits and, accordingly, file for bankruptcy. The primary goals of the trusts are to compensate plaintiffs for exposure to products for which insolvent entitles are liable in a less costly and more efficient manner and …

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Brake Manufacturer Obtains Dismissal on Alternative Theories of Liability in Lieu of Product Identification & Proximate Cause

MISSISSIPPI – The plaintiffs William Dickens and Karla Dickens (plaintiffs) allege that the plaintiff William Dickens’s (Mr. Dickens) mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos within products he used while employed as a mechanic, and within talcum powder products he used.  Ford Motor Company (Ford) was named as one of the defendants since it, “designed its braking systems for asbestos-containing brake linings such that no other material could be utilized as brake linings in those systems.”  Ford moved to dismiss, under Rule 12(b)(6): (i) the …

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Maryland Appellate Court Upholds Motion for Judgment on Basis that Manufacturer Had no Duty to Warn of Take-Home Exposure

MARYLAND – Concetta Schatz’s (Mrs. Schatz) children (Appellants) commenced a lawsuit against John Crane, Inc. (JCI), alleging that Mrs. Schatz’s husband handled asbestos-containing JCI products while at work and wore his asbestos-covered clothing home for Mrs. Schatz to launder, thereby exposing her to asbestos, resulting in her mesothelioma diagnosis and eventual death.

At the close of Appellants’ case-in-chief, JCI moved for judgment on the basis that Appellants failed to prove JCI owed a legal duty to warn Mrs. Schatz.  The lower Circuit Court granted JCI’s …

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Apparent Manufacturer Theory of Liability Upheld for Subsidiary Insulation Cement Manufacturer

WASHINGTON – In a case of first impression, the Washington Supreme Court adopted Section 400 of the Restatement (Second) Torts, recognizing a manufacturer’s liability for claims arising prior to the 1981 Product Liability and Tort Reform Act, and assessing such liability by applying the objective reliance test, which requires viewing all of a defendant’s relevant representations from the perspective of the ordinary, reasonable consumer, finding that a Court of Appeals Panel had erred in holding that objective reliance be judged only from the perspective of …

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