New York Manages to Remain a “Judicial Hellhole” in 2021

While trials and in person court conferences are starting to trickle in, some jurisdictions such as New York still managed to hold its position as a judicial hellhole in 2021. According to American Tort Reform Foundation 2021-22 Judicial Hellholes, California regained its position to the top of the judicial hellhole list. Following California, New York was named as the second judicial hellhole. Georgia, Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas and the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania followed. Cook, Madison, and St. Clair Counties in Illinois; Louisiana; …

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Jury Awards $36.5 Million in Compensatory and Punitive Damages to Former W.R. Grace Worker

The Asbestos Case Tracker has been following developing issues regarding hundreds of asbestos exposure cases involving plaintiffs who worked for W.R. Grace at the Libby, Montana mine and facilities. Recently, a Great Falls, Montana jury awarded $36.5 million dollars to Ralph Hutt, an Oregon man who worked at the Libby mine. Hutt’s matter is a bellwether case, which is the first of more than 800 cases filed against Maryland Casualty Company (MCC), provider of workers’ compensation coverage to Grace from 1963 until 1973, to go …

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Several States Follow Iowa’s Lead with Legislation Controlling Over-Naming in Asbestos Litigation

In July 2020, we reported on Iowa’s passage of legislation intended to significantly reduce or eliminate the over-naming of defendants in asbestos and silica litigation. Since then, three additional states have enacted similar legislation: West Virginia, North Dakota, and Tennessee.  

West Virginia

On March 31, 2021, the West Virginia legislature passed House Bill 2495.  The bill outlines the requirements with which a plaintiff must comply in an asbestos or silica action. Within 90 days of filing a complaint, a plaintiff with a nonmalignant condition must file a …

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EPA Publishes Draft Scope of Its Part 2 Risk Evaluation for Asbestos: Will the EPA Revisit Attempts to Implement a Nationwide Ban on Asbestos?

On Wednesday, December 29, 2021, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published the draft scope of the “Risk Evaluation for Asbestos Part 2: Supplemental Evaluation Including Legacy Uses and Associated Disposals of Asbestos”. While more than 60 nations have comprehensive asbestos bans, the United States is undergoing a lengthy asbestos “risk evaluation”. As Part 2 of the EPA’s Asbestos Risk Evaluation becomes open for public comment, the question is whether the eventual findings of the EPA’s risk evaluation will result in stronger asbestos regulations, …

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Similar Summary Judgment Standards Yield Different Results Based on Jurisdiction

Over the past six months, the Asbestos Case Tracker has reported on numerous summary judgment decisions throughout the country. The most active jurisdictions included New York, Pennsylvania, California, Texas, Illinois, Delaware, Mississippi and Washington. On review of the decisions we have discussed, Texas, Illinois, Mississippi, Washington and Pennsylvania appear to be the most defendant-friendly jurisdictions, with the courts granting all the summary judgment motions coming before them. New York continues to be the least defendant-friendly jurisdiction when it comes to summary judgment. Of the eight …

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Bankruptcy Judge Declines to Prevent Hypothetical Talc Liability Restructuring

Johnson & Johnson currently has approximately 25,000 lawsuits pending against it related to its talc products, including talcum powder and baby powder

Reports have circulated that Johnson & Johnson is considering a strategic plan to move its liabilities from talcum litigation related to baby powder and other products into a newly created business that would later seek bankruptcy protection. Recently, lawyers for plaintiffs requested that the bankruptcy judge block the move of Johnson & Johnson. However, bankruptcy judge Laurie Selber Silverstein declined to prevent Johnson …

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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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