SC District Court Grants Motion to Realign, Preserves Jurisdiction Covil Corp. v. Zurich Am. Ins. Co., No. 18-3291-BHH, 2019 WL 2482382, June 14, 2019

The federal district court for the District of South Carolina granted the motion of defendant Sentry Insurance, a Mutual Company, to realign certain defendants in the case as plaintiffs in order to create diversity jurisdiction in the federal court. The overall matter is an insurance coverage dispute among Covil Corp., a now-defunct company that once manufactured asbestos-containing thermal insulation, and its insurers, regarding underlying personal injury claims. In 2018, Covil was subjected to a $38 million judgment in one of the underlying suits, and it…
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Auto Parts Supplier’s Personal Jurisdiction Motion Denied U.S. District Court, W.D. Washington, June 4, 2019

WASHINGTON – The plaintiff’s decedent, Rudie Klopman-Baerselman, was a merchant mariner, serving aboard several vessels while allegedly working with and around asbestos-containing products. The plaintiff additionally alleged that Klopman-Baerselman performed all maintenance and friction work on his vehicles for 30 years, and that he purchased asbestos-containing gaskets, brakes, and clutches from the Defendant, NAPA, contributing to his fatal mesothelioma. NAPA filed a motion to dismiss, and alleged that the court had no jurisdiction as NAPA lacked sufficient contacts with the State of Washington, since it…
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Court Denies All Post-Trial Motions of Valve Defendant and Plaintiffs New York Supreme Court, April 24, 2019

NEW YORK — In James and Lynn Stock v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al, the Supreme Court of The State of New York, Eighth Judicial District, recently considered the defendant’s and the plaintiffs’ post-trial motions. At the trial of the original case, the plaintiffs James and Lynn Stock (plaintiffs) filed suit for James Stock’s (Stock) mesothelioma allegedly caused by exposure to asbestos while he was employed at New York Wire Mills in Tonawanda, NY from 1979 through 1986. The plaintiffs argued that…
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Subjective Generalization Regarding Frequency of Exposure Held Legally Insufficient to Support Jury Verdict

As recently reported on March 28, 2019 on the Asbestos Case Tracker, the First Department of the New York Supreme Court issued a significant causation decision. In Joanne Corazza as Executrix of the Estate of George Cooney v. Amchem Products Inc., et al, the plaintiff sued multiple asbestos related defendants, alleging they were all the cause of Mr. Cooney’s lung cancer. Notably, Mr. Cooney was a two-and-a-half pack-per-day smoker of 52 years prior to his death. The case was tried to verdict over…
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Upcoming Developments in Asbestos Litigation — in Pennsylvania and Nationally

With 2019 now in its second month, there are a number of imminent developments on which members of the asbestos bar should keep an eye. While this post will primarily focus on litigation in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania, it touches on one national topic as well. The following is a summary of four important pending events: First Talc Trial in Philadelphia Trial of the first talc mesothelioma case in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas begins this week. The plaintiff alleges the decedent, Sally Brandt, developed…
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Asbestos Litigation Remains Strong Impetus for Inclusion on Judicial Hellhole Jurisdiction List

Last month, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) issued its always anticipated annual report on Judicial Hellholes. Not surprisingly, asbestos litigation remained a common engine driving the same familiar jurisdictions to repeated billing on the list. ATRA’s report attempts to shine a light on the conduct of all tort litigation in the United States, with attention to the uneven application of equal justice under the law, pretrial rulings, decisions during trial, unreasonable expansions of liability, and reflections on judicial integrity. Below, we’ll offer 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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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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St. Louis City – The Gateway Arch to Mammoth Talc Verdicts

MISSOURI – The city of St. Louis, Missouri, has traditionally been an unfavorable venue for defendants, particularly for those involved in allegations of personal injury or death due to cancer caused by asbestos or talc exposure. Until recently, these two causative agents – asbestos and talc – were separate materials for purposes of personal injury or wrongful death claims. In July 2018 these two theories merged in the first trial which heard that plaintiffs’ claims of ovarian cancer were caused in part by asbestos-contaminated talc.…
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Removal Under Federal Enclave Jurisdiction Deemed Timely U.S.D.C. for the Western District of Pennsylvania, June 28, 2018

PENNSYLVANIA — The plaintiff, Harald Mehnert, filed suit in the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, alleging he suffered from mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure incurred while working on Mass Spectrometers at the U.S. Geological Survey Department in Denver, Colorado, from 1959 to 1995. He filed suit on November 27, 2017 and all defendants were served with process by January 17, 2018. The complaint did not allege the location of the plaintiff’s work. On April 3, 2018, the plaintiff served answers to interrogatories indicating that…
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