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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NYCAL Judge Manuel Mendez Appointed to Appellate Division, Question Remains: Who is the Next NYCAL Coordinating Judge?

On July 13, 2020, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced four appointments to fill vacancies in the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court, in the First Department of New York State. Two of those appointees are no strangers to New York Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL), Judge Martin Shulman and Judge Manuel Mendez. NYCAL has one of the most active asbestos dockets in the United States. In fact, NYCAL had approximately 314 filings in 2019.

Justice Shulman, a well-known judge in NYCAL was first elected to the Manhattan …

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Iowa Breaks Ground with Asbestos Litigation Over-Naming Law—The First of its Kind in the U.S.

Over the past year, an increasing number of state legislatures are considering bills or have passed legislation intended to promote fairness, clarity, and efficiency in asbestos litigation throughout the country. (For example, New York is currently considering a bill that would promote transparency in plaintiffs’ asbestos bankruptcy trust proof of claim submissions, a development ACT previously covered). Iowa, which has recently successfully passed various types of tort reform, is particularly notable despite not being an asbestos litigation national hot spot. Following codification of …

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Jurisdictions Remain Split on Existence of Liability and Scope of Same in Secondary Exposure Cases

The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana recently issued a decision holding that an employer or premises owner, in a negligence claim, may owe a duty of care to a plaintiff who alleges exposure to asbestos from coming into contact with that employer’s or premises owner’s employees at an offsite location. In Hernandez v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc., the plaintiff, Jesse Hernandez, alleged he was exposed to asbestos from working at a family grocery store and deli that was frequented by employees …

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