Wife’s Testimony on Decedent’s Use of Brake Product and Expert Causation Testimony Held Sufficient to Defeat Summary Judgment U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, October 2, 2015

In this federal court case, decedent Richard Bell alleged exposure to asbestos while performing car maintenance from 1964 through the late 1970s. Defendant Honeywell, as successor of Bendix, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the decedent’s wife’s deposition testimony that the decedent used Bendix brakes with the word “asbestos” on the packaging was hearsay; that the testimony could not be used against it to oppose summary judgment since it was taken prior to Honeywell becoming a party; and that the plaintiff failed to show the…
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Defendant Establishes Colorable Defense Under Federal Law, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 28, 2015

The plaintiff filed this action in Madison County, Illinois, alleging injury due to asbestos exposure. The defendants, CBS and General Electric, removed the action to federal court under federal officer removal statute 28 U.S.C. 1442. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand, which the court denied. The court cited the United States Supreme Court in listing the three elements required to establish a colorable defense to the use-of-asbestos claim: (1) the United States approved reasonably precise specifications; (2) the equipment conformed to those specifications; (3)…
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Applying Maritime Law, Defendants’ Summary Judgment Motions Denied in Case Alleging U.S. Navy Exposure U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 23, 2015

The plaintiff alleged he developed severe asbestosis as a result of inhaling asbestos while serving in the United States Navy. Three defendants — John Crane, General Electric, and Ingersoll-Rand — moved for summary judgment. In deciding the motion, the court determined whether maritime or Illinois law applied. A plaintiff’s exposure in a products liability claim must meet both a locality test and a connection test in order to apply maritime law. The locality test analyzes whether the tort occurred on navigable water, or, if the…
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Defendants’ Motion in Limine To Exclude Expert Testimony on “Each and Every Exposure” Opinion Denied Based on Federal and Illinois Law U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 21, 2015

Various defendants filed a motion in limine to exclude the testimony of Matthew A. Vuskovich, M.D., M.S.P.H., arguing that he does not satisfy the requirements for expert testimony outlined in Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). Specifically, defendants sought to exclude his opinions based on the “every exposure” theory, because it is not accepted by the scientific community or the courts. The court denied the motion, as Federal Rule of Evidence 702 allowed for the theoretical basis for Dr. Vuskovich’s…
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Preclusion of Plaintiff’s Expert Witness and Defendant’s Investigation of Juror Do Not Warrant New Trial U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, August 25, 2015

In this federal case, the plaintiff, Charles Krik, sued Owens-Illinois and ExxonMobil and claimed they negligently exposed him to asbestos, causing his lung cancer. The case went to trial and a verdict was returned in favor of the defendants as the jury found that the plaintiff’s smoking was the sole cause of his lung cancer. The plaintiff subsequently moved for a new trial, arguing that the exclusion of his expert was in error and prejudicial and that Mobil’s investigation of contact between the plaintiff and…
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Illinois Appellate Court Reverses Verdict Based on Defendant Being Precluded from Introducing Alternative Exposure Evidence Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, July 30, 2015

In this Illinois case, the plaintiff claimed at that he was exposed to asbestos at property owned by the defendant. At trial, the defendant sought to introduce into evidence other substantial asbestos exposure at a different unrelated facility. The defendant’s argument was that the other, more substantial exposure was the sole proximate cause of the plaintiff’s asbestosis, not the minimal asbestos exposure at defendant’s facility. After a lengthy discussion of Illinois’ case law on proximate cause and burden, the appellate court decided the trial court…
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Southern District of Illinois Denies Motion to Remand Alleged Aircraft Engine Asbestos Exposure Based on Federal Contractor Defense U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, April 14, 2015

After the plaintiff commenced an action alleging asbestos exposure in connection with Air Force aircraft engines, the defendants removed the action to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1), which permits removal “by federal officers or any persons acting under a federal officer for any act under color of such office where such person asserts a colorable defense.” The plaintiff moved to remand the case, claiming the defendants could not establish a colorable defense in accordance with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Boyle, which…
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FELA Asbestos Verdict Upheld on Appeal, Rejecting Defendant’s Challenge to Lack of Evidence of Negligence and Charge on Preexisting Injury Appellate Court of Illinois, March 17, 2015

The plaintiff brought this action claiming that the decedent’s work as a laborer and machinist for Illinois Central and its predecessor caused him to be exposed to asbestos and to develop lung cancer. After the jury awarded $2.6 million, with a 45 percent reduction for smoking, the defendant, Illinois Central, appealed, arguing it was not negligent and that the trial court should not have charged the jury on aggravation of a preexisting condition related to the decedent’s smoking. On appeal, the court rejected the argument…
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Challenges to Sufficiency of Asbestos Plaintiffs’ Pleadings Continue in Illinois and Missouri Federal Courts Eastern District of Missouri and the Southern District of Illinois

In two decisions issued Thursday out of the Eastern District of Missouri and the Southern District of Illinois, the courts reached different conclusions as to whether the respective plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded causes of action against the defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In Campbell v. ABB  Inc., the defendant Raypack moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint or to compel a more definitive statement on the ground that the “Plaintiffs’ First Amended Petition fails to plead with sufficient particularity which of Raypack’s product(s)…
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