Partial Summary Judgment Denied to Shipbuilding Company and Auto Parts Retailer

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, March 30, 2021

Before the court are motions for summary judgment filed by defendant National Steel and Shipbuilding Company (NASSCO) and Pep Boys-Manny, Moe & Jack of California.

Defendant NASSCO moves for summary judgment on the theory that, as a government contractor, it enjoys derivative immunity from asbestos- related liability. In the alternative, should material facts regarding its overhaul of the USS Bristol County remain in dispute, NASSCO moves for partial summary judgment as to the plaintiffs’ premises …

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$25.5 Million Punitive Damages Award Reversed; New Trial Ordered on Apportionment of Fault in Automobile Brake Case

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Two, March 25, 2021

In this asbestos action, plaintiff Arthur Putt replaced brake pads manufactured and supplied by several different entities in connection with cars manufactured by three different companies in two California gas stations from 1966 until 1970. The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2018 and testified that 40 percent of his brake work involved Ford vehicles, and 40 percent of his total work with Ford vehicles involved removing the factory-installed brake pads. The …

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Punitive Damages Award Eliminated on Appeal in Take-Home Exposure Case

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Three, November 19, 2020

The plaintiff, Alfred Mata, alleged he developed mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure. Alfred’s father, Francisco, worked as a serviceman for Park Water from 1970 until 1989. Francisco’s responsibility of cutting water pipes with a power saw caused visible dust to settle on his clothing, which he took home to his son. Park Water used both asbestos-containing cement pipes and non-asbestos pipes. The asbestos pipes contained both chrysotile and crocidolite asbestos. …

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New Trial on Damages Directed in Talc Case Unless Plaintiffs Stipulate to Verdict Reduction

Supreme Court of New York, New York County

In June 2019, we reported on the jury verdict in the Olson matter. Following the verdict, Defendants Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. (J&J) moved to set aside the verdict and award under CPLR 4404(a). In the alternative, J&J moved for a new trial on liability and damages.

The court rejected J&J challenges to the award of compensatory damages as the jury’s verdict as to liability was supported by legally sufficient evidence. The jury …

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Punitive Damage Claim Can Go Forward Against Shipyard

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, August 26, 2020

The plaintiffs allege that Callen L. Dempster (decedent) was exposed to asbestos while working at Avondale Shipyard from 1984 to 1996. In their Supplemental and Amending Petition for Damages, the plaintiffs asserted a claim for punitive damages, specifically stating that “Callen Dempster was exposed to asbestos during the years of 1984 through 1996. His injuries were caused by defendants’ wanton and reckless disregard for public safety in the storage, handling, and transportation of asbestos …

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New York City Asbestos Litigation Verdict Against Johnson & Johnson Includes $300 Million Punitive Damages Award

NEW YORK – Johnson & Johnson (J&J) was hit with a $300 million punitive damages award on May 31, 2019, after a jury found the company responsible for a woman’s development of mesothelioma after decades of use of J&J talc bath products. In Donna A. Olson v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., the jury awarded the plaintiff, Donna Olson, and her husband, Robert Olson, with $25 million in compensatory damages, which brought the total verdict to $325 million. The lawsuit claimed …

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Denial of Texas County’s Jurisdictional Challenges Upheld on Appeal

TEXAS — In a case involving the mesothelioma death of a longtime jurist in Jefferson County, Texas attributed in part to asbestos remediation at the courthouse, a Texas Appellate Court affirmed the order of the trial court on all issues against defendant/appellant Jefferson County with the exception of the applicability of claims for exemplary damages, which were dismissed. Jefferson County filed an interlocutory appeal based on the trial court’s denial of its jurisdictional challenges. We have previously reported on the Appellate Court’s handling of 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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Iowa Supreme Court Clarifies Issues in Appeal of $6.5 Million Verdict

IOWA — In 2014, the Estate of Larry Kinseth prevailed in a trial against boiler manufacturer, Weil-McLain, in Iowa District Court for Wright County. The plaintiff was awarded $4 million in compensatory damages, of which Weil-McLain was assessed 25 percent liability. The plaintiff then successfully argued for the application of punitive damages against Weil-McLain, and the jury awarded $2.5million in that phase of the trial. Weil-McLain appealed, based mostly on the conduct of the plaintiff’s counsel during closing arguments, and was successful on appeal in …

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Five Million Dollar Mesothelioma Punitive Damages Award Upheld

ARIZONA — Plaintiff Goerge Coulbourn was a machinist for the United States Navy from 1959 to 1966, during which time he worked with several products sold by defendant Crane Company that contained “significant amounts of asbestos.” The plaintiff sued Crane, alleging, amongst other things, that Crane’s products were defective in failing to warn of the dangers that asbestos posed. The plaintiff died in August 2013, and his wife, Sandra Coulbourn, filed an amended complaint on behalf of herself and her family, asserting a claim for …

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