Appellate Court Affirms Order for New Trial and Denial of Post-Judgment JNOV Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California, October 4, 2019

CALIFORNIA — Following the conclusion of an extensive trial and creation of a special verdict form, the jury deliberated and rendered a special verdict in favor of one plaintiff, awarding substantial economic and noneconomic damages. However, the trial signed a judgment in favor of the defendant. Post judgment, the trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), but granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeal for the Second District, Division 4 of California affirmed the post-judgment…
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Plaintiffs’ Failure to Establish Causal Connection Upheld in Consolidated Workers’ Compensation Claims Court of Appeals of North Carolina, September 3, 2019

NORTH CAROLINA – The Court of Appeals of North Carolina recently upheld the Worker’s Compensation Commission decisions and findings in 144 consolidated cases. Numerous plaintiffs, including Walter Hinson, Charles Wilson, Douglas Epps, and Bobby James Newell, sought compensation under the worker’s compensation statute for alleged asbestos related illnesses for their work at Continental Tire in Charlotte, North Carolina from 1967-1999. The court focused on the Hinson case and analyzed the commission’s findings, which it later applied to the remaining cases. Hearings began in 2011. At…
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Application of Product Line Doctrine Imposes Liability Upon Successor in Interest of Asbestos Supplier Court of Appeals, Washington, Division 1, May 28, 2019

WASHINGTON – The plaintiff, Edward Leren, filed suit alleging that decedent Marvin Leren developed mesothelioma as a result of his employment with Z Brick Company from 1961-1981. It was alleged that Benson Chemical (Benson) supplied Z Brick with raw asbestos used in their decorative bricks. Leren poured the raw asbestos into hoppers to mix the ingredients used to make the bricks. The defendant at trial was Elementis, the successor to Harrisons and Crosfield Pacific, Inc. (HCP). HCP had previously acquired Benson. The jury returned a…
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Insurer of Long Defunct Employer May Be Held Liable Under “Enhanced Benefits” in Worker’s Compensation Statute Missouri Court of Appeals, E.D., May 21, 2019

MISSOURI – The plaintiff passed from mesothelioma in 2015 as a result of alleged exposure to asbestos while working at Valley Farm Dairy Company. Specifically, it was alleged that Vincent Hegger encountered lots of industrial equipment, including fireboxes, boilers, and ammonia compressors while working at Valley Farm. Prior to his passing, Hegger and his children submitted a claim for worker’s compensation under the recently amended statute. The administrative law judge found that the plaintiff could not “elect” coverage under the amended statute because Valley Farm…
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Plaintiffs Not Entitled to Jury Instruction on General Negligence Due to Lack of Specific Evidence Court of Appeals, Second District, Division 4, California, May 14, 2019

CALIFORNIA – Philip and Febi Mettias, husband and wife, both died of complications caused by mesothelioma. The decedents’ children (plaintiffs) filed suit against various defendants. As part of their allegations, the plaintiffs alleged Philip Mettias performed as many as 24 brake repairs with Bendix brakes, made by Honeywell and purchased at Pep Boys. The jury returned a special verdict in favor of Honeywell and Pep Boys; the plaintiffs appealed on two contentions:
  1. The trial court erred in not giving general negligence instructions in addition to

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Jury Verdict of $32.7 Million Against Insulation Manufacturer Upheld Based on Weight of Evidence United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina, May 1, 2019

NORTH CAROLINA — The plaintiff Ann Finch filed suit on behalf of herself and the plaintiff’s decedent, Franklin Finch, alleging that his exposure to asbestos caused his mesothelioma. The plaintiff resolved or dismissed her claims against all parties outside of Covil Corporation (Covil), and the case was tried in October of 2019. The court charged the jury on North Carolina state law negligence and failure to warm claims. The jury found Covil liable on both counts, and returned an award of $32.7 million in damages.…
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Jury Instructions Confused Non-Party’s Role as Employer and Manufacturer, Leading to Incorrect Attribution of Liability Supreme Court of New York, New York County, March 28, 2019

NEW YORK — The sole issue on appeal “is the attribution of liability as between Con Ed and non-party Robert A. Keasbey, Co., (Keasbey).” For three months in 1958, the plaintiff’s decedent worked in close proximity to Keasbey employees, who used asbestos-containing concrete products, including Rex and Rakco concrete manufactured by Keasbey.  From the winter of 1964 to the spring of 1965, the plaintiff’s decedent worked for Keasbey as an asbestos installer at a Con Ed plant in Ravenswood, Queens and used Rex and Rakco.…
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NYCAL Verdict Tossed on Basis that “a lot” of Asbestos Exposure is Insufficient to Establish Causation Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department, New York, March 28, 2019

NEW YORK – The defendant Caterpillar, Inc. (Caterpillar) appealed a verdict in the aggregate amount of $1.8 million issued by a jury in the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL) following a trial over which the Honorable Martin Shulman presided. This verdict was unanimously reversed by the First Department, one of which justices is the Honorable Peter Moulton, who previously presided over NYCAL as administrative judge. The First Department based its reversal on the plaintiff Joanne Corazza’s (plaintiff) failure to establish causation as it related…
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Fifth Circuit Affirms Preemption of Claims Under Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, March 18, 2019

In a per curiam opinion, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit addressed the appeal of pro se appellant, Johnny Kirkland. He alleged suffering injuries as a result of asbestos exposure while working for Huntington Ingalls in the 1970s. The district court found that plaintiff’s claims related exclusively to his work for Huntington Ingalls in the field of ship construction and repair, and were therefore governed by the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act (LHWCA). The plaintiff did not dispute that the Huntington…
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California Court Remands Grant of Relief from Default Judgment California Court of Appeals, February 19, 2019

CALIFORNIA — In 2010, Donna O’Balle filed a complaint against numerous defendants alleging personal injuries from exposure to asbestos dating back to the 1980’s. Associated Insulation of California, Inc. (Associated), one of the defendants, was served, but did not respond, having gone out of business long before. O’Balle filed a request for entry of default against Associated. Almost a year later, O’Balle sent notice of the suit to Fireman’s Fund, seeking coverage on behalf of Associated. Fireman’s Fund was unable to locate any policy it…
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