California Immune from Asbestos Exposure Civil Rights Claim by Prisoner-Employee U.S. District Court, N.D. California, January 10, 2019

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff Darryl Schilling (plaintiff), incarcerated at San Quentin State Prison, filed a civil rights action, pro se, asserting that his constitutional rights were violated under Section 1983 by the defendant California Prison Industry Authority (CALPIA) since it showed “knowing indifference” to the plaintiff’s health and safety in having him work at the San Quentin furniture factory in a position that exposed the plaintiff to asbestos; rebuffing his stated concerns; and, eventually, retaliating by firing him for his complaints.  CALPIA filed a…
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Default Judgments Set Aside After Insurer Discovers Policies California Court of Appeal, January 9, 2019

CALIFORNIA — Beginning in 2009, several asbestos plaintiffs filed claims against the Associated Insulation of California (the Associated). The Associated ceased operating in 1974 and did not respond to the plaintiffs’ complaints. Two of the plaintiffs notified the Associated’s alleged insurer, Fireman’s Fund, of the lawsuits. However, Fireman’s Fund could not locate any policies issued to the Associated and therefore declined to defend or indemnify Associated. The plaintiffs then sought and obtained default judgments in various amounts.The plaintiffs served notice of entry of default judgments…
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Set Aside of Default Judgment Against Insurer Affirmed on Grounds of Equity Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5, California, December 11, 2018

CALIFORNIA — Several plaintiffs consolidated suit against multiple defendants including Associated Insulation of California (Associated) alleging exposure to asbestos for which the defendants were liable. Associated did not file a response to the complaint. Accordingly, the plaintiffs moved for default judgments in 2013 and again in 2015. The default judgments varied in amounts from $350,000 to $1,960,458. A notice of default had been served upon Associated but not its insurer, Fireman’s Fund (Fireman). Fireman shortly thereafter located policies indicating potential coverage and moved to set…
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Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court’s Decision to Remand Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, December 10, 2018

CALIFORNIA — Westinghouse appealed the decision of the District Court for the Central District of California, which remanded the matter due to the lack of a colorable federal defense.The district court concluded that the asbestos insulation in a nuclear propulsion system was not military equipment and therefore Westinghouse failed to present a colorable military contractor defense. The district court found that Westinghouse had met the other elements required for federal officer removal. The Ninth Circuit noted that several of its cases framed the issue more…
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Market-Share Cause of Action Against Automotive Parts Manufacturer Dismissed Without Prejudice to Amend Complaint United States District Court, For the Northern District of California. December 6, 2018

The laintiff Gary Farris, brought suit against multiple product manufacturers and distributors alleging that his diagnoses of lung cancer and asbestosis were causally related to asbestos exposure he sustained while 1) working on brakes and clutches in an automotive shop during the summers from 1960 to 1964 and shadetree automotive repairs from the 1960s to 1980s; 2) serving in the United States Navy from 1964 to 1967; and 3) servicing photocopiers from 1967 to 1989. In support of his claims, Farris raised a fifth cause…
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Summary Judgment in Favor of Bankrupt Wisconsin Company Affirmed on Statute of Limitations Grounds California Court of Appeal, First District, November 26, 2018

CALIFORNIA — Plaintiff David Hart appealed the entry of summary judgment in favor of Special Electric Company on the basis that the claims against the company were time-barred under Wisconsin law. The plaintiff sued Special Electric alleging that his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos from products supplied by the company. Special Electric, a Wisconsin corporation, filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11 in 2004, and by 2006, a plan of reorganization had been entered. By then, all of the company’s assets had been sold…
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Defense Verdict for California Water Companies Affirmed California Court of Appeal, First District, November 19, 2018

CALIFORNIA — On November 19, 2018, the California Court of Appeal affirmed judgment in favor of the defendants, California Water Service Company and San Jose Water Company (Water Companies), following a trial in which it was alleged that the plaintiff died from mesothelioma developed from cutting asbestos pipe while employed by Fairly Constructors. The Water Companies hired Fairly to install water pipes from 1959 to 1989. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants failed to warn Fairly of the danger of using a power saw to…
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Defense Verdict for Johnson & Johnson in California Asbestos-Talc Case Superior Court of California. Humboldt County. November 14, 2018

CALIFORNIA — On November 14, 2018, before the Honorable Timothy Canning, a Northern California state jury returned a defense verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson (J&J). The jury found the defendant not liable for the plaintiff Carla Allen’s mesothelioma. The plaintiff initially filed suit earlier this year, pleading both negligence and strict liability causes of action, and alleged that defendants knew its talcum products contained asbestos and were likely hazardous to the health of consumers. The main allegation in this case centered on the…
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Testimony of Plaintiff’s Key Witness is Inadmissible Hearsay; Court Reverses Judgment in Mesothelioma Claim Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5, California, October 26, 2018

CALIFORNIA — In the matter of Frank C. Hart, he Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5, California reversed a lower court’s judgment against defendant after finding the testimony of plaintiff’s key witness was inadmissible hearsay. The plaintiff Frank C. Hart filed suit alleging that his mesothelioma diagnosed was caused by exposure to asbestos from his work in construction as a pipe layer. The paintiff alleged that defendant supplied asbestos-containing piping that exposed him to asbestos. The lower court’s judgment was primarily based on a…
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California Jury Deadlocked Over Talc Claims Superior Court for Los Angeles, September 24, 2018

CALIFORNIA — A mistrial was declared in a talc lawsuit filed against Johnson & Johnson in the Superior Court for Los Angeles, after a jury remained deadlocked following more than five days of deliberations. The plaintiff, Carolyn Weirick, alleges that she developed mesothelioma through the use of asbestos-contaminated talc, and sought at least $25 million in damages. The plaintiff allegedly used Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder for more than forty years, and was diagnosed with mesothelioma at age 58. The parties agreed that she had…
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