Denial of Talc Defendant’s Motion for JNOV Reversed on Appeal

NEW YORK – In unanimously reversing an order denying the defendant Whittaker Clark & Daniel’s, Inc.’s (WCD) motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict, today New York’s First Department determined that the plaintiff Claudine DiScala did not present sufficient evidence to establish a level of exposure that could have caused the decedent, Joan Robusto’s, mesothelioma. They determined that although there was not a requirement to quantify a mathematically precise exposure level, the plaintiff’s causation expert failed to express a legally sufficient opinion because he “merely opined …

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Estate’s Claims of Exposure from Steam Pipes That Were Not Connected to a Locomotive Survive Preemption Challenge

PENNSYLVANIA — The plaintiff’s decedent worked in Texas as an electrician from 1945 until 1989, and alleged exposure to asbestos from insulation that was incorporated into passenger railcars manufactured by Defendants from 1945 until the mid to late 1970s. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that asbestos exposure from pipe insulation and “arc chute” insulation in the passenger cars manufactured by the defendants was a cause of decedent’s mesothelioma and subsequent death. The railroad manufacturing defendants moved for summary judgement under the theory that the plaintiff’s claims …

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Massachusetts Statute of Repose Bars Construction-Related Asbestos Claims

In Stearns v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, the Massachusetts Supreme Court addressed whether the six-year statute of repose for claims against those involved the design, planning, construction, or general administration of improvements to real property, applies to asbestos personal injury claims, which would typically arise after the statue would bar their assertion. The statute at issue, Mass. Gen. Laws. c. 260 Section 2B, provides in relevant part that:

“Action[s] of tort for damages arising out of any deficiency or neglect in the design, planning,

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New NYCAL Coordinating Judge Grants First Causation-Based Summary Judgement

NEW YORK — New York City Asbestos Litigation Coordinating Judge Manuel J. Mendez has granted a causation based summary Judgment motion to defendant, American Biltrite, Inc. (ABI). With respect to ABI, the plaintiff, Thomas Mantovi, alleged exposure from Amtico from vinyl asbestos floor tile that he encountered as a bystander while performing inspections as an insurance agent from 1967 through 1979. Specifically, he testified that he was exposed to asbestos by breathing in dust during insurance inspections of commercial and residential sites where Amtico asbestos …

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Third Party Distribution of Talc Products in Florida Ruled Insufficient to Confer Personal Jurisdiction Over Talc Supplier

FLORIDA — A divided Florida Appellate Court granted a motion to dismiss based on a lack of personal jurisdiction over a cosmetic talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, (Imerys). See Imerys Talc Am., Inc. v. Ricketts, No. 4D17-3815, 2018 WL 6719406 (Fla. Dist. Ct. App. Dec. 19, 2018). In opposition to the motion, Plaintiff argued that under the stream-of-commerce doctrine Imerys was subject to specific personal jurisdiction based on its out-of-state sales to a downstream manufacturer, who later distributed their talc containing cosmetic products in …

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Market-Share Cause of Action Against Automotive Parts Manufacturer Dismissed Without Prejudice to Amend Complaint

The laintiff Gary Farris, brought suit against multiple product manufacturers and distributors alleging that his diagnoses of lung cancer and asbestosis were causally related to asbestos exposure he sustained while 1) working on brakes and clutches in an automotive shop during the summers from 1960 to 1964 and shadetree automotive repairs from the 1960s to 1980s; 2) serving in the United States Navy from 1964 to 1967; and 3) servicing photocopiers from 1967 to 1989. In support of his claims, Farris raised a fifth cause …

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New York’s Highest Court Upholds Defense Judgment as a Matter of Law Based on Lack of Sufficient Scientific Evidence

NEW YORK — New York’s highest Court issued its first decision addressing causation standards in an asbestos case, and upheld the trial and intermediate appellate court decisions granting Ford Motor Company judgment as a matter of law in Juni v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co. et al.. ACT has previously reported on the Juni matter here and here.

The majority found that “[v]iewing the evidence in the light most favorable to plaintiffs, the evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to establish …

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In-State Product Distribution Ruled Insufficient to Confer Personal Jurisdiction Over Out-Of-State Asbestos Product Manufacturer

The plaintiffs, Silverio and Faye Onorato, brought suit against numerous asbestos manufacturers and distributors alleging that Mr. Onorato developed mesothelioma from his exposure to asbestos, which occurred entirely in the State of Florida. The defendant, Highland Stucco and Lime Products, Inc.,(Highland) moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims by arguing that there was no personal jurisdiction over it, as its manufacturing business operations were confined to Southern California.  In support of its motion, Highland annexed an affidavit of its president who alleged a complete lack of …

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First-of-its-Kind Epidemiology Study Establishes a Lack of Pleural Mesothelioma Risk From Ambient Asbestos Exposure Levels

In nearly every asbestos trial, the plaintiffs’ experts will invariably compare asbestos exposure levels from defendants’ products to airborne concentrations of asbestos in the ambient air. The apparent purpose of such a comparison is to provide a bare semblance of quantitative rigor to otherwise unsupported causation opinions. However, such an argument depends in part on taking a position that the risk from exposure to ambient asbestos levels caries some minute, but unquantifiable, level of risk. The plaintiffs’ experts correctly note that because every living human …

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NYCAL Judge Rejects Causation Challenge; Reduces $75 Million Verdict to $17,250,000

NEW YORK — Late Thursday night, NYCAL Justice Joan Madden issued a long awaited post-trial motion decision in Robaey v. Air and Liquid Systems, et al, NYCAL Index No. 190276/13, previously reported by ACT here. In January of 2017, a New York City jury returned a record setting $75 Million verdict, comprising $50 Million for plaintiff, Ms. Marlena F. Robaey ($40 Million in Past Pain and Suffering and $10 Million in Future Pain and Suffering), and $25 Million for derivative plaintiff, Mr. Edward …

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