Bankruptcy Stay Lifted Against Defendant/Debtor to Allow Plaintiffs to Pursue State Law Claims U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, February 10, 2016

In this case, the defendant that used asbestos in some of its production while in business filed chapter 11. There remained 123 claims against the defendant and the defendant’s proposed chapter 11 plan stated that the “liability issues will pass through the bankruptcy and be tried in non-bankruptcy courts having jurisdiction.” The defendant objected to the Asbestos Committee’s motion to lift the automatic stay, arguing the stay should remain in place pending plan confirmation. In its analysis, the court applied the Fernstrom three-part balancing test…
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Gasket Manufacturers’ Motions for Summary Judgment and Motion to Change Venue Denied in Naval Exposure Case U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 28, 2016

In this federal court case, the plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos in various products through the course of his employment in the 1960s and 1970s. He specifically alleged asbestos exposure from working with gaskets manufactured by Excelsior Packing & Gasket Company and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company while serving in the Navy from 1970 to 1975 aboard the U.S.S. Surfbird and U.S.S. Hector. On both ships, the plaintiff’s duties included replacing gaskets on pumps, valves, and boilers. He testified to changing flange gaskets…
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District Court Grants Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction Due to Plaintiffs’ Failure to Respond to These Motions U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 19, 2016

Defendants General Electric, Ingersoll-Rand, and CBS Corporation moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. The plaintiff failed to respond to any of these motions. The court cited Local Rule 7.1(c) in using its discretion to construe this failure to file a timely response as an admission of the merits of the motion. “Here, Defendants are not incorporated nor maintain their principal place of business in Illinois.  Further, Defendants’ affiliations with Illinois are not ‘so continuous and systematic’ as to render Defendants at home in Illinois. …
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Valve Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment under Maritime Law Based on Lack of Causation U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 5, 2016

In this federal court action, it is alleged that the decedent, Richard Bell, was exposed to asbestos during his service in the Navy where he served on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1961 to 1962. Velan Valve Corp. moved for summary judgment asserting maritime law. The plaintiff did not oppose the application of maritime law. The court went on to analyze the application of maritime law and found it applied in the case. The court then went on to grant Velan summary judgment, stating…
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Court Lacks Specific Jurisdiction Where Complaint is Devoid of Allegations that Injury Arose Out of Defendants’ Contacts with State U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 6, 2016

The plaintiffs’ complaint alleged that John Clark was exposed to asbestos from the defendants’ products while serving in the U.S. Air Force and during his employment at McDonald Douglas and Boeing. Multiple defendants made motions to dismiss, arguing that the District Court lacked jurisdiction over them. The plaintiffs failed to file timely responses to any of the motions and the court used it is discretion to construe the plaintiffs’ failure to do so as an admission of the merits of the motion. In granting the…
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Railroad Company Obtains Summary Judgment on Appeal Based on Inadmissible Expert Report Supreme Court of Mississippi, December 10, 2015

The plaintiff in this case brought a wrongful death action against the Illinois Central Railroad Company pursuant to the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) for the death of her husband, Charles Jackson, Jr., who had worked on the railroad. Illinois Central’s motions for summary judgment, to strike the plaintiff’s expert, Michael J. Ellenbecker, were denied. Illinois Central’s petition for an interlocutory appeal was granted. In its review, the court found that Ellenbecker’s opinions submitted in opposition of the motion for summary judgment was inadmissible since…
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Applying Maritime Law, Plaintiff Unable to Provide Sufficient Evidence Linking Decedent to Any John Crane Product U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, November 24, 2015

In this federal court case it was alleged that the decedent, Richard Bell, was exposed to asbestos while serving on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1960-64.  Defendant John Crane Inc. moved for summary judgment, arguing that maritime law applies and the plaintiff’s evidence fails to prove that decedent was exposed to any of its asbestos-containing products or that the products were a substantial factor in decedent’s lung cancer. The plaintiff did not oppose the application of maritime law.  The court spelled out that for…
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Federal Court Grants Remand to Madison County Based on Plaintiff’s Waiver of Any Claims Related to His Military Service U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, November 23, 2015

In this case, the plaintiff originally filed the action in the Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, Illinois alleging exposure to asbestos as an aircraft mechanic, helicopter mechanic, and laborer at various locations throughout the United States between 1958 and 2006. The plaintiff’s work on helicopters was while he served in the U.S. Army.  Defendant Boeing removed the case to federal court based on the federal officer removal statute. The plaintiff moved for a remand based on his previously filed waiver of all claims related to…
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Illinois Supreme Court Rules Workers’ Compensation Is Employees’ Exclusive Remedy for Asbestos Claims Against Employers, Even if Workers’ Compensation Claim is Time-Barred Illinois Supreme Court, November 4, 2015

The plaintiff was employed by Ferro Engineering for four years, and alleged that during this time he was exposed to products containing asbestos. Forty-one years after this employment he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and sued Ferro under several theories including negligence. Ferro filed a motion to dismiss, arguing the plaintiff’s claims were barred by the exclusive remedy provisions of the Workers’ Compensation Act (820 ILCS 305/5(a), 11 (West 2010)) and the Workers’ Occupational Diseases Act (820 ILCS 310/5(a), 11 (West 2010)).  The plaintiff replied that…
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Case Remanded Based on Dismissal and Settlement of Defendants with Federal Defenses U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, October 20, 2015

This case was originally filed in the Third Judicial Circuit in Madison County. The defendant, Crane Co., removed based on the Federal Officer Removal Statute 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) and defendant General Electric Company (GE) joined in. The plaintiff moved to remand the case and GE was the only defendant to oppose. Prior to the court rendering a decision, GE was dismissed from the case and Crane settled. CBS Corporation then filed a notice of joinder or removal, which the court found untimely. The court granted…
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