Plaintiffs Awarded $750 Million Punitive Damages in Talc Trial

NEW JERSEY – In a case previously covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the plaintiffs were awarded $750 million during the punitive damages portion of the trial. The jury had already awarded $37.2 million in compensatory damages, and per New Jersey law, the punitive damages were reduced to $186 million, five times the compensatory award.  As further details emerge, we will update this post.…

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Delaware District Court Rules on Pre-trial Motions in Maritime Law Case

DELAWARE – The plaintiff filed this asbestos-related wrongful death action in Delaware on June 11, 2015. While the court does not explain the underlying case facts, motion practice regarding admiralty law and expert exclusion indicates that the decedent was exposed to asbestos while a member of the United States Navy. As trial is approaching for this case, the plaintiff and the defendant, John Crane, Inc. (JCI), both filed motions in limine. The plaintiff’s motion sought to exclude discussion or reference to collateral sources, including …

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Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Eliminates $110 Million Dollar Verdict Against Talc Defendants

MISSOURI — $110 million verdict against talc defendants Johnson and Johnson and Imerys Talc North America was overturned by a Missouri appellate court this week. The plaintiff Lois Slemp filed suit against the defendants alleging that she developed ovarian cancer as a result of her use of Johnson and Johnson’s talcum powder products for over 40 years. The trial court found personal jurisdiction based on evidence that a Missouri-based company was used to “manufacture, mislabel and package” the products. Applying the Bristol Myers Squibb decision …

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Plaintiff’s Future Medical Award Reinstated Against Defendant Stevedore Company Based on Strength of Evidence Presented

LOUISIANA — The plaintiff Jerry Craft (plaintiff) filed suit against multiple stevedore companies, alleging that his work as a longshoreman on the New Orleans riverfront from 1953 until 1989 exposed him to asbestos that caused him to develop mesothelioma. Multiple other stevedore companies for which the plaintiff worked settled out of court, were dismissed from the litigation, or did not appear in the litigation at all. The defendant Ports America Gulfport, Inc. (defendant) pursued litigation, and went to trial.

The jury was given a special …

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Verdict on Non-Economic Damages Reversed and Remanded with Finding of Joint/Several Liability Against Pipe Manufacturer

CALIFORNIA — In an update to Asbestos Case Tracker’s previous post, the court reversed and remanded this matter ordering a new entry of judgment holding the plaintiffs’ economic and noneconomic damages jointly and severally liable against CertainTeed Corporation (defendant). At the trial level, a jury previously returned a verdict on economic damages in the amount of $776,201 against defendant. The verdict also included $9.25 million in noneconomic damages which was apportioned to defendant at 62 percent with the remaining to other joint tortfeasors. The …

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Covil Corp. Seeks to Overturn $33 Million Verdict in North Carolina

NORTH CAROLINA — In October, the plaintiff, Ann Finch, prevailed against Covil Corp. in a mesothelioma case involving her husband’s workplace exposure at Firestone. Covil made asbestos insulation that Mr. Finch worked around daily while changing molds on tire presses. The plaintiffs were awarded $32.7 million by the jury, which found that Covil failed to warn Mr. Finch that there was asbestos present in the insulation and that it posed a hazard to his health.

Covil has filed a motion to overturn the verdict or, …

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Special Master’s Recommendation Vacated; Order Permitting Limited Discovery of Co-Defendants to Establish Apportionment Granted

The defendant John Crane (JCI) has been granted limited discovery of co-defendants to establish apportionment of fault. JCI’s request had been denied by the Special Master. However, JCI argued that the Case Management Order (CMO) placed it in an unfair position for trial. The CMO encouraged defendants to use depositions in asbestos litigation from other defendants and permitted a second deposition by stipulation or permission only. According to JCI, these constraints made it impossible for JCI to meet its burden of proof at trial with …

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California Appellate Court Defines Scope of Damages Recoverable in Survival Action

CALIFORNIA — The First District of the California Court of Appeal addressed numerous issues in a case involving exposure to friction products used during personal automotive repair. The family of decedent, J.D. Williams, filed suit in January 2011 after his July 2010 death from mesothelioma. The plaintiffs asserted claims for wrongful death, strict liability and negligence. The defendant, Pep Boys, was not named in the lawsuit until an amended complaint was filed on December 6, 2012. The trial court granted Pep Boys’ motion for judgment …

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Admission into Evidence of Testimony and Answers to Discovery of Settled Defendants Leads to New Trial Ordered on Issue of Apportionment

NEW JERSEY — Donna Rowe (plaintiff), individually and as executrix and executrix ad prosequendum of the estate of Ronald Rowe (Rowe), appealed an April 27, 2015 judgment of $304,152.70 plus prejudgment interest. The plaintiffs originally sued 27 defendants, alleging that exposure to asbestos from their products caused Rowe’s mesothelioma. Twelve defendants were granted summary judgment, four were dismissed, and two never appeared and the claims against them were abandoned. Additionally, eight parties settled their claims before trial, leaving only Hilco, Inc., the successor-in-interest to Universal …

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$117 Million Verdict Upheld in Talc Case

NEW JERSEY — Superior Court Judge Ana C. Viscomi denied motions from Johnson & Johnson and Imerys Talc America, Inc. to set aside a $37 million verdict in compensatory damages and a combined $80 million verdict in punitive damages awarded earlier this year.  On Wednesday, May 23, 2018, the court heard arguments on Imerys Talc America, Inc.’s motions to overturn the verdict. The court instead upheld the verdict. In rendering her decision, Judge Viscomi stated that the verdicts “do not shock the judicial conscience.”…

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