Inference of Exposure Leads to Reversal of Summary Judgment against Boiler Defendant

Plaintiffs filed suit against several defendants including Cleaver Brooks “CB” alleging that their decedent, Ronald Callanan, developed and passed from asbestosis as a result of his exposure to defendants’ products. Specifically, Plaintiffs alleged that Callanan worked with David Wolfe at FM Engineering as a field inspector. Their work included inspecting CB boilers but Wolfe was unable to testify that he saw Callanan inspect those boilers because they worked independently from one another. Callanan also worked with Samuel Sorrels at Protection Mutual until 1987. CB moved …

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Enhanced Workers’ Compensation Benefits Not Owed from Defunct Employer

Supreme Court of Missouri, February 18, 2020

MISSOURI – The claimants filed a workers’ compensation claim for their late father, Vincent Hegger, who developed  mesothelioma. Hegger worked for Valley Farm from 1968 until 1984. His work included service with machinery where he encountered asbestos gaskets and asbestos insulation. Valley Farm had workers’ compensation coverage but ceased operations in 1998.

His children sought enhanced benefits under the state’s workers’ compensation laws. The administrative law judge denied that claim and the children appealed. On appeal, the court …

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Johnson and Johnson Prevails at Motion to Transfer Venue

TENNESSEE –The plaintiff, Shawnee D. Douglas, filed a lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Hamilton County, Tennessee against Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc., f/k/a McNeil-PPC, Inc. and Imerys Talc America, Inc., f/k/a Luzenac America, Inc., alleging she was exposed to the defendants’ asbestos-containing or asbestos-contaminated talc. On September 26, 2017, Johnson & Johnson removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The plaintiff then filed suit in Missouri state court based on information connecting a Missouri entity, PTI …

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Partial Settlement Did Not Moot Claim for Vexatious Refusal to Pay

MISSOURI – O’Reilly Auto Enterprises, LLC succeeded to the interests of Grand Auto, Inc., and O’Reilly was named as a defendant in several asbestos-related personal injury actions as a result. Industrial Indemnity had issued two insurance policies covering such claims to Grand Auto, and U.S. Fire had succeeded to Industrial Indemnity’s interests. As a result prior to 2012, U.S. Fire provided defense and indemnity to O’Reilly in the personal injury actions pursuant to the Industrial Indemnity policies.

In 2012, the insurer incorrectly determined that the …

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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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Insurer of Long Defunct Employer May Be Held Liable Under “Enhanced Benefits” in Worker’s Compensation Statute

MISSOURI – The plaintiff passed from mesothelioma in 2015 as a result of alleged exposure to asbestos while working at Valley Farm Dairy Company. Specifically, it was alleged that Vincent Hegger encountered lots of industrial equipment, including fireboxes, boilers, and ammonia compressors while working at Valley Farm. Prior to his passing, Hegger and his children submitted a claim for worker’s compensation under the recently amended statute. The administrative law judge found that the plaintiff could not “elect” coverage under the amended statute because Valley Farm …

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Missouri on Brink of Passing Updated Venue and Joinder Statute

MISSOURI — On Wednesday, May 1, 2019, the Missouri House of Representatives voted in favor of a bill, already approved in the State Senate, that would change the rules for joinder and venue in the state.  The bill, which is expected to be signed by Governor Mike Parson, has potentially far-reaching implications in one of the busiest mass tort case jurisdictions in the country.

At its core, the measure would require individuals to bring a claim where they live, where they were injured, or the …

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Court Denies Talc Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss and Motion to Transfer

In Shawnee D. Douglas v. Imerys Talc America, Inc., et al., Johnson & Johnson filed a motion to dismiss for improper venue, and in the alternative, motion to transfer. This involves a plaintiff alleging that she suffers from malignant peritoneal mesothelioma as a result of her exposure to asbestos from talc-based products. The lawsuit was originally filed in the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit, City of St. Louis. Johnson & Johnson removed the case to federal court on the grounds that diversity of citizenship exists because …

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Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied Due to Fraudulent Joinder of Talc Defendant

MISSOURI — The plaintiff Shawnee D. Douglas originally filed suit against multiple entities, contending that her use of talc product caused her malignant mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) removed the case to federal court on the grounds that diversity of citizenship exists because, inter alia, the only Missouri-based defendant, PTI Union, was “fraudulently joined.”

Numerous motions were filed by the parties, including: Imerys Talc America, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss the plaintiff’s Petition for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s Emergency Motion to Remand with …

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St. Louis City – The Gateway Arch to Mammoth Talc Verdicts

MISSOURI – The city of St. Louis, Missouri, has traditionally been an unfavorable venue for defendants, particularly for those involved in allegations of personal injury or death due to cancer caused by asbestos or talc exposure. Until recently, these two causative agents – asbestos and talc – were separate materials for purposes of personal injury or wrongful death claims. In July 2018 these two theories merged in the first trial which heard that plaintiffs’ claims of ovarian cancer were caused in part by asbestos-contaminated talc. …

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