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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Appellate Court Affirms Order for New Trial and Denial of Post-Judgment JNOV

CALIFORNIA — Following the conclusion of an extensive trial and creation of a special verdict form, the jury deliberated and rendered a special verdict in favor of one plaintiff, awarding substantial economic and noneconomic damages. However, the trial signed a judgment in favor of the defendant. Post judgment, the trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), but granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeal for the Second District, Division 4 of California affirmed the post-judgment …

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California Case Removed During Jury Selection Sent Back to State Court

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff, Arthur Putt, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on December 3, 2018, alleging he developed mesothelioma from his use of automobile brakes. Among the 16 defendants sued were Ford, Pneumo Abex and Pep Boys. On August 7, 2019, jury selection began with Ford and Pep Boys participating. Pneumo Abex did not participate in the process, but the superior court had not dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against it. On August 8, the plaintiff’s counsel informed the superior court that the claims …

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Naval Contractor’s Summary Judgment Win Overturned on Appeal

CALIFORNIA – Yesterday, a three-judge panel reversed a California trial court’s grant of summary judgement for the defendant, Triple A Machine Shop (Triple A), Inc., and remanded the matter to the trial court for further determination of Triple A’s arguments in support of summary adjudication. The decedent, Michael Harris, sued Triple A, among others, and alleged that their subcontracted work overhauling the USS San Jose in San Francisco for over three months in 1973 disturbed asbestos and contributed to the development of his mesothelioma. The …

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Directed Verdict Reversed for Floor Tile Defendant Based on Admissibility of Expert Opinion

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff, Robert Friedman, alleged that he developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos through remodeling work undertaken in his home. He proceeded to trial against the defendant, American Biltrite, Inc. (ABI), a manufacturer of asbestos vinyl tile that was allegedly cut and installed in Friedman’s presence over three days in 1966. The plaintiff specifically testified that he observed the tile installers cutting the tile with a circular saw, which created dust.

ABI presented testimony from their corporate representative stating that vinyl tile was …

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California Court Allows Insurer to Repair Default

CALIFORNIA – A San Francisco Superior Court allowed Century Indemnity Company (Century) to vacate a default and default judgment against its potential former insured, James A. Nelson, Co., Inc. (Nelson). The plaintiff, the wife of a decedent whose death was attributed to alleged exposure to asbestos-containing products, brought several lawsuits for wrongful death in or around 2012. About a year after bringing suit against Nelson Co., the plaintiff requested and received an entry of default. The following year, in January 2014, she received a default …

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California Jury Awards Twelve Million Dollars to Plaintiff in Talc Case

CALIFORNIA – A California jury found that asbestos in talcum powder products sold by two companies was the likely cause of the plaintiff Patricia Schmitz’s mesothelioma, awarding her two million dollars in economic damages and ten million dollars in noneconomic damages. The jury did not reach a conclusion as to whether to award punitive damages or on an intentional misrepresentation claim against one of the companies.

Read the case decision here.…

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Asbestos Talc Cases Remanded to State Courts Despite Pending Bankruptcy of Talc Supplier

CALIFORNIA — On Tuesday, a federal court in California ordered that a group of asbestos talc personal injury cases must be remanded to state court on equitable grounds. Defendant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) had removed these actions to federal court in April on the basis of the pending bankruptcy of its sole talc supplier, Imerys Talc America, Inc., claiming that J&J’s supply agreements with Imerys contained contractual indemnifications and other liability-sharing provisions, and that they were “related” to Imerys’s bankruptcy proceedings in federal court in …

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Specific Jurisdiction Established Under “Stream of Commerce Plus” Theory

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff Thomas Toy alleged that his mesothelioma diagnosis was a result of asbestos exposure that incurred in multiple Navy shipyards to a variety of products throughout his machinist career. He claimed he was exposed to friction products in his role as a mechanic for the Army while stationed in Germany, Korea, and other U.S. locations and to construction products he used during home renovations. The defendant Viking Pump, Inc. moved to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rule 12(b)(6), arguing that the plaintiff failed …

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Plaintiffs Not Entitled to Jury Instruction on General Negligence Due to Lack of Specific Evidence

CALIFORNIA – Philip and Febi Mettias, husband and wife, both died of complications caused by mesothelioma. The decedents’ children (plaintiffs) filed suit against various defendants. As part of their allegations, the plaintiffs alleged Philip Mettias performed as many as 24 brake repairs with Bendix brakes, made by Honeywell and purchased at Pep Boys.

The jury returned a special verdict in favor of Honeywell and Pep Boys; the plaintiffs appealed on two contentions:

  1. The trial court erred in not giving general negligence instructions in addition to
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