California Appellate Court Holds No Duty for Vessel Owner Based on No Active Control

In this mesothelioma case, the decedent worked for a vessel repair company and performed repair work on a vessel involving pipe insulation possibly containing asbestos. His estate sued the vessel owner under “both the Longshore & Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act, 33 United States Code section 905(b) (the Act, or section 905(b)) and state law.” The vessel owner moved for summary judgment on a number of  grounds, including that it did not actively control the area where the alleged exposure occurred. The lower court granted the …

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Crane Co. Granted Summary Judgment in Two California Federal Court Cases

In two separate decisions, Crane Co. was granted summary judgment on different grounds in two federal court cases. In the first, a Southern District case, Crane moved on the grounds that the plaintiffs could not show that the decedent, Michael Walashek, was exposed to asbestos from any of its products. In support of its motion, Crane relied on the plaintiffs’ interrogatory responses where they failed to identify any specific documents supporting the claimed exposure against Crane.

In granting the motion, the court held that Crane …

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California Appellate Court Upholds Rejection of Lay and Expert Witness and Grants Zenith Summary Judgment in Radio Tube Asbestos Case

The California Court of Appeal affirmed the rejection of lay witness testimony as to asbestos content: “As a lay witness, Darby could testify to his observations about the texture of the material, but not to his conclusion that it contained asbestos since a lay witness may not opine about matters not within common knowledge or experience. (Cf. McAlpin, supra, 53 Cal.3d at p. 1308 [lifeguards who recovered body from water were not qualified to express medical opinion on cause of death].) According to Savic, ‘fibrous …

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California Appellate Court Reverses $32.5 Million Punitive Damage Award Against BorgWarner, Among Other Rulings

 

In this wrongful death lawsuit, the decedent was allegedly exposed to asbestos from BorgWarner clutches while working as a security guard at a General Motors assembly plant. The case went to trial and the jury awarded various economic and noneconomic damages to the family of the decedent. During the punitive damages phase of the trial, the plaintiff’s expert testified as to the financial condition of BorgWarner over objections that he improperly considered the financial condition of other separate corporate entities. The jury unanimously awarded punitive …

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California Court Rejects Plaintiffs’ Expert Opinion and Grants Railroad Summary Judgment Under FELA on Lack of Causation

In this California case, the decedent was allegedly exposed to asbestos while working for a railroad as a switchman, conductor, and brakeman, later developing mesothelioma. Specifically, the decedent claimed exposure was from changing railcar brake shoes, being in the vicinity of insulation removal from refrigerator cars, and staying in a boarding house run by the railroad that had insulation-covered pipes in the room where he slept. The defendant railroad moved for summary judgment, arguing “that plaintiffs were required but failed to prove negligence under FELA, …

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California Appellate Court Reverses Dismissal of Two Cases Where Equipment Was Used in Connection With Asbestos Brake Linings

In the first California case, the plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2014. He had previously worked as an auto mechanic in New York City and Los Angeles, during which he purchased an AMMCO machine equipped with a dust collection system. This machine was “an ‘arcing’ machine designed to grind drum brake linings for cars and light passenger trucks with standard sized brake shoes. From the early 1950’s to the 1980’s, the great majority of such drum brake linings contained asbestos. Because the AMMCO machines …

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Federal Court Precludes Plaintiff Aircraft Expert Under Daubert and Grants Summary Judgment

In this case, the plaintiffs pursued an action claiming that the  decedent, while working as an aircraft electrician for the U.S. Air Force between 1952 and 1961, was exposed to various electrical component parts. Several electrical component part defendants moved for summary judgment claiming that the plaintiffs did not meet the threshold exposure standard under California law. In opposing the motion, the plaintiffs relied on the expert testimony of Mark Thomson, an experienced pilot and civilian aviation mechanic and custodian of one of the world’s …

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Plaintiffs’ Complaint Dismissed for Failure to Plead Circumstances of Asbestos Exposure That Justify Defendants’ Potential Liability

In this California federal court case, plaintiffs Billy and Diana Jeffrey commenced an action generally claiming Mr. Jeffrey had asbestos exposure at numerous worksites spanning from 1962 to 1976. Several defendants moved to dismiss the complaint for failure to state a cause of action on the grounds that the plaintiffs’ complaint merely listed jobsites and dates and generally alleged that the defendants supplied, installed, or maintained asbestos-containing products where Mr. Jeffrey worked.

The court granted the motions to dismiss, with leave to amend, holding: “Mr. …

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California Applies Higher Texas Standard on Causation and Dismisses Asbestos Case

In this California state case, the plaintiff, a Texas resident, claimed asbestos exposure in both California and Texas, although the particular claimed exposure against certain defendants was in Texas. These defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming that under Texas law, the plaintiff was unable to meet the legal standard of causation. Both the lower and appellate courts in California, under choice of law principles, ruled that Texas law applied and, under the higher causation standard in Texas, granted summary judgment. With respect to Texas law …

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