$4.4 Million Verdict Affirmed in Asbestos Bowling Ball Trial

California Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 8

The decedent, Donald Vanni, and his brother co-owned and operated Arcata Bowl bowling alley in California from 1957 to 1986. During this time, one of the decedent’s duties was to drill custom-fit finger holes in asbestos-containing bowling balls sold by Arcata Bowl. A press release issued by the Vanni family’s legal team stated, in part: “Asbestos, used as a filler in plastic Ebonite bowling balls, was supplied by Honeywell [International Inc.] in the form of discarded brake …

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Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss Granted as Specific Jurisdiction Not Established

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California

In this asbestos action, plaintiff Frank Shelton alleged exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy from the mid-1960s until the early 1970s. Defendant Superior Lidgerwood Mundy Corporation filed a motion to dismiss this matter, contending that the court did not have general or specific jurisdiction over the defendant. In support of its motion, the defendant submitted a declaration from its vice president and chief financial officer, setting forth that:

[Defendant] is not headquartered in …

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Plaintiff Prevails on Defendant’s Expert Appeal; Court Affirms Seven-Figure Judgment

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Eight, September 13, 2021

This matter was brought on behalf of decedent Donald Vanni in 2014, alleging two causes of action for negligence and strict product liability against defendant Honeywell International, Inc. among others. The plaintiff alleged that the decedent was exposed to asbestos from owning and operating a bowling alley from 1957 to 1986. Specifically, the decedent was responsible for drilling finger holes in plastic bowling bowls manufactured by Ebonite. The decedent was diagnosed with …

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Remand Proper Without Evidence of Fraudulent Joinder

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, September 3, 2021

Plaintiff John Rathbun was diagnosed with terminal mesothelioma on July 8, 2020, and on December 22, 2020, he and his wife filed suit in state court, asserting claims for negligence, strict liability, negligent misrepresentation, fraud by nondisclosure, and loss of consortium. On April 30, 2021, Chattem removed this action to federal court on diversity grounds, and the plaintiffs have filed a motion to remand to state court.

The defendants argue that the two …

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Grant of Summary Judgment to Contractor Reversed as Expert’s Declaration Was Not Given Appropriate Weight

Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division Five, September 2, 2021

In this asbestos action, decedent Michael Harris testified that he served as a hull maintenance technician on the U.S.S. San Jose from August 1973 until May 1974. During this time, he patrolled every part of the ship to check for fires and leaks, including in the boiler room. In Fall 1973, the Thomas Dee Engineering Company performed repairs on the boilers, including removal of the existing insulation and refractory material. While Harris …

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Summary Judgment in Favor of Oil Defendants Upheld Due to Lack of Control of Iranian Facilities

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division Seven, July 7, 2021

In this case, the plaintiffs brought wrongful death and survivor claims, alleging that their deceased father contracted mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos while he was an Iranian citizen working for the National Iranian Oil Company from the late 1950s to the late 1970s in facilities controlled by the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed a judgment entered by the trial court granting motions for summary judgment filed by the defendants Chevron Corporation, Chevron U.S.A. …

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Pump Manufacturer’s Motion to Dismiss Based on Personal Jurisdiction Denied

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

In this asbestos action, Christopher Sibley (the plaintiff) alleged asbestos exposure from his work as a Navy electrician in California. Defendant Viking Pump moved to dismiss due to a lack of personal jurisdiction. As per Rule 12(b)(2), a defendant can move to dismiss the matter based on personal jurisdiction grounds. Since personal jurisdiction is not authorized by federal statute, the court applied California law. As such, “[a] defendant is subject to general jurisdiction …

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Plaintiff’s Verdict Reversed as Trial Court Gave Erroneous Causation Instruction

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division One

Defendant The Marley-Wylain Company successfully argued that Michigan law should apply in this California action as all of the plaintiff’s exposure to asbestos manufactured or supplied in connection with Weil-McLain boilers occurred in Michigan. Marley-Wylain was the only remaining defendant at trial, where the jury returned a verdict for the plaintiff and entered a judgment against Marley-Wylain for $5,489,688.68. The trial court subsequently denied Marley-Wylain’s motions for a new trial and for judgment notwithstanding the …

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Court Grants New Trial to Boiler Defendant Based on Improper Jury Instruction Regarding Causation

Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division One, June 4, 2021

The decedent worked as a plumber in Michigan from 1969 to 1976. The plaintiff contends the decedent was exposed to asbestos during this time when working with boilers manufactured by Weil-McLain Company, Inc. (now a division of The Marley-Wylain Company (MW)). The decedent’s exposure to asbestos by MW products occurred entirely in Michigan. The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2014 and subsequently filed suit, under California law, against a number of …

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Steam Trap Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment; No Liability for Third-Party Component Parts

U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, May 20, 2021

In this asbestos action, the plaintiffs allege that Mr. Toy (the decedent) worked with asbestos-containing steam traps and strainers manufactured by Armstrong from 1974 until 1980. Defendant Armstrong moved for summary judgment on the causation issue, and the plaintiffs opposed the motion. Of relevance to this motion, the decedent testified that he did not open the steam traps to perform maintenance on the internal components. Instead, he removed flange gasket material from between …

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