New California Law Limits Length of Asbestos Depositions

CALIFORNIA – California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill which imposes significant time limits on the deposition of the plaintiffs suffering from mesothelioma. Under the law, the deposition of a plaintiff suffering from mesothelioma is limited to seven hours if a licensed physician provides a declaration stating that the individual has mesothelioma and there is a substantial medical doubt of survival beyond six months. Upon findings of fairness and that the health of the plaintiff is not endangered by a granting of additional time, …

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Interrogatory Answers and Deposition Testimony Admissible To Prove Fault of Settled Defendants In New Jersey

NEW JERSEY – The New Jersey Supreme Court held that disputed excerpts from a settled defendant’s interrogatory answers and corporate representative depositions were admissible as statements against interest under N.J.R.E. 803(c)(25). As such, when presented at trial with other evidence, those statements gave rise to a prima facie showing that the settled defendants bore fault, and a jury could properly consider whether to allocate some percentage of fault to them.

The defendant, Universal Engineering Co., Inc., a manufacturer of asbestos-containing dry cement, was the sole …

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Mid-2019 Asbestos Litigation Trends

KCIC recently issued 2019 Midyear Asbestos Litigation Trends , which compiled statistics through June 30, 2019, and assessed them in comparison with the data from its previous Asbestos Litigation: 2018 Year In Review. The overall takeaways from the update, each assessed at greater length below, are:

  1. While non-malignant and “other” cancer filings continued trending downward this year, as in 2018, 2019 is on track to see an increase in total filings
  2. The percentage of filings by the top 10 plaintiffs’ firms has decreased slightly
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Alaska’s Statute of Repose Upheld to Bar Claims Against Pulp Mill Defendant

ALASKA – A Washington state appellate court upheld the trial court’s motion of summary judgment for the defendant Ketchikan Pulp Company (Ketchikan) in a matter involving the plaintiff Larry Hoffman, and concluded that Alaska’s statute of repose barred claims against Ketchikan. Hoffman’s father, Doyle, worked as a welder and pipefitter at the Ketchikan mill in Alaska from 1954 until 1956, and Larry worked at Ketchikan himself as a plumber and pipefitter from 1968 to 1970. The plaintiff alleged that his own work and his father’s …

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J&J Wins Defense Verdict in Kentucky Talc Case

KENTUCKY – A Louisville state court deliberated for approximately a half hour on August 2, 2019 before finding in favor of Johnson & Johnson in a talc case. The lawsuit alleged that Donna Ann Hayes died from mesothelioma caused by her use of talcum powder products. The plaintiff’s lawyers argued that the talc was contaminated with asbestos, but J&J disputed those allegations.

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Corporate Representative for Power Company Defendant Can’t Escape Deposition Notice Based On Long Period of Inquiry

FLORIDA – The plaintiff, Larry Cook, sued his employer Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) under negligence and premises liability theories for injuries allegedly sustained while working with or around asbestos in FPL power plants. Cook issued several notices for the deposition of a corporate representative of FPL to discover information regarding their use of asbestos, and requested documents and other materials from the company dating back to 1925.  FPL moved for protective orders arguing that compliance would be burdensome and costly. The court denied …

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Cosmetic Talc Seller’s Motion to Fix Venue in Delaware for 2,400 Cases Denied

DELAWARE – In a substantial set of cases extensively covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker, Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc.’s (J&J) motion to fix venue was ruled on in the District Court of Delaware. The motion requested transfer of approximately 2,400 state court tort cases pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Sections 157(b)(5) and 1334 (b). Numerous parties filed briefs in opposition to the instant motion.

The state court actions allege the following against J&J:

  1. They are directly liable for placing asbestos-containing talc
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Denial of Rail Defendant’s Forum Non Conveniens Motion Upheld on Appeal

ILLINOIS — The defendant, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), made an interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s denial of their forum non conveniens motion, seeking transfer from Cook County, Illinois to Knox County, Illinois, in a matter involving brakeman and locomotive engineer, Randall Alley. Alley alleged that his lung cancer was caused in part by unsafe working conditions at BNSF, where he worked for 40 years. He worked on BNSF trains that departed from train yards in Fort Madison, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri for 28 …

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Circumstantial Evidence Held Sufficient to Uphold Verdict Against Insulator Defendant

MARYLAND — A Baltimore City jury found that William Busch, Jr. contracted mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos-containing materials installed during the construction of Loch Raven High School (LRHS) by defendant Wallace & Gale, Co. (W&G), and awarded the plaintiff a $14 million verdict, which was later reduced to $7.3 million.

While working for Honeywell in the early 1970s, Busch worked in the boiler room at LRHS for three-to-four months in the presence of insulators, who were covering two large boilers with …

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Court Cites Strong Policy Against Granting Motions to Strike in Denying Plaintiff’s Motion

PENNSYLVANIA — In a case previously covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the defendant, Viad Corporation, filed an answer to the plaintiff’s complaint on February 22, 2019, including a successor in interest defense, an assertion that was raised for the first time in their reply to the plaintiff’s response to their motion for summary judgement and not decided on by the court at that time. The plaintiff filed a motion to strike Viad’s answer, and Viad filed a reply.

“The issue in this case is …

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