2021 Mid-Year Review—Courts Resuming In-Person Civil Jury Trials

At the beginning of the year, the Asbestos Case Tracker published its 2020 Year in Review 2021 Judiciary Outlook. As we have just passed the mid-year mark, the Asbestos Case Tracker seeks to update its readers as to the status of the courts and the outlook of the judiciary into the second half of 2021.

Jury trials posed a unique set of issues to chief judges and court administrators throughout the country because of the amount of people needed to assemble in the courthouse. …

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Court Grants Water Heater Defendant’s MSJ Finding Plaintiff Failed to Proffer Sufficient Exposure Evidence

United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, June 17, 2021

Plaintiff sued Defendant Yuba Heat Transfer, LLC and various manufacturers and distributors alleging that decedent developed mesothelioma from exposures to Defendant Yuba’s asbestos-containing products. Plaintiff alleged decedent was exposed to asbestos from Yuba’s feedwater heaters while working at the Niagara Mohawk Power Station. 

Prior to decedent’s passing, he sat for a deposition during which he did not identify Yuba by name or feedwater heaters.  Defendant Yuba filed a motion for summary judgment arguing …

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Court Grants Valve Defendant’s MSJ Finding Plaintiff Failed to Proffer Sufficient Exposure Evidence

U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, June 17, 2021

Plaintiff sued Defendant Honeywell Inc. and various manufacturers and distributors alleging that decedent developed mesothelioma from exposures to Defendant Honeywell’s asbestos-containing products. Plaintiff alleged decedent was exposed to asbestos from Honeywell’s controls, valves, and instruments while working at the SM-1 facility in Virginia and PM-1 facility in Wyoming.

Prior to decedent’s passing, he sat for a deposition during which he recalled Honeywell controls and equipment at the SM-1 and PM-1 facility. Defendant Honeywell …

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Proposed PROTECT Asbestos Victims Act Seeks to Prevent Fraud and Preserve Victim Compensation

On March 3, 2021, the PROTECT Asbestos Victims Act, otherwise known as S.574, was introduced in the U.S. Senate by Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC), John Cornyn (R-TX), and Chuck Grassley (R-IA). This legislation attempts to reform the asbestos bankruptcy trust system by providing oversight of asbestos bankruptcy trusts, ensuring those harmed by asbestos receive fair and just compensation, and eliminating fraud and abuse within the trust system.

Since its creation in 1994, the asbestos bankruptcy trust system has received little independent oversight. This legislation hopes …

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New York City to Remain a “Judicial Hellhole” in 2021? Only Time Will Tell

While 2020 delayed many aspects of litigation due to the COVID-19 pandemic, some jurisdictions such as New York City still managed to hold its title as one of the nation’s top judicial hellholes. As previously reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, as of November 13, 2020, New York terminated the scheduling of any new jury trials.

However, according to American Tort Reform Foundation 2020-21 Judicial Hellholes, New York City still managed to see a dramatic increase in nuclear verdicts. These multimillion-dollar awards were …

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2020 Year in Review and 2021 Judiciary Outlook

2020 has been one of the most unprecedented years in the court system nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unsurprisingly, case and motion filing were down in 2020. As previously reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the number of motion filings were significantly down in the second and third quarters of 2020.

In addition, consulting firm KCIC reported that asbestos filings fell by 20 percent during the time period of January through April 2020, as compared to January through April 2019. They similarly reported …

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The State of the Bare Metal Defense in 2020: A Synopsis

In 2019, we saw the U.S. Supreme Court reject the bare metal defense under federal maritime law, resolving a circuit split on the issue. The Supreme Court held that “a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when (i) its product requires incorporation of a part, (ii) the manufacturer knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses, and (iii) the manufacturer has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger.” …

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New Appointed NYCAL Coordinating Judge Adam Silvera Ready to “Roll Up His Sleeves” and Get to Work

As the Asbestos Case Tracker previously reported here, former NYCAL Coordinating Judge Manuel Mendez was appointed to the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, First Department, in July 2020. With Judge Mendez assuming his new role in the First Department, Judge Adam Silvera was announced as the new NYCAL coordinating judge.

Silvera obtained his undergraduate degree in 1994 from the City University of New York and received his juris doctor from Brooklyn Law School in 2001. Prior to becoming a judge, he worked for …

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Key 2020 Rulings on the “Every Exposure” Causation Theory and Anticipated Rulings for 2021

Due to court closures and stays placed in cases as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant downturn in the advancement of motions throughout the second and third quarters of 2020. However, the Asbestos Case Tracker has reported on recent motions in limine and causation-based motions for summary judgment involving these issues, which provides some guidance into the anticipated rulings going forward.

In mid-September 2020, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana issued several decisions on motions in limine …

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Zoom: The Final Trial Frontier?

In a case recently reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the nation saw the first asbestos-related Zoom trial go to verdict. While the trial went through to verdict, it was not without serious procedural and technological hiccups that were noted by both sides of the bar and the judge.

During the trial, Honeywell’s counsel filed a “notice of irregularities,” which listed myriad issues with the jurors themselves, including seeing a juror working and emailing from another computer during opening statements and two jurors looking …

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