Railroad Case Remanded to Lower Court to Determine “Other Activities”

Supreme Court of Montana, March 11, 2020

MONTANA – The defendant BNSF Railway Company’s (BNSF) appealed the lower court’s decision arguing that the court erred in granting partial summary judgment in favor of the plaintiffs on the issues of preemption, strict liability, and non-party affirmative defenses.

As an overview, W. R. Grace acquired the assets of Zonolite Company, formerly known as Mineral Carbon and Insulating Company. W.R. Grace mined vermiculite seven miles outside of Libby, Montana. W.R. Grace’s operations produced approximately 80 percent of the …

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Opposite Outcomes in Recent Removals Based on Diversity Hone in on Status of Remaining Defendants

A string of recent decisions on remand motions illustrates that diversity challenges are alive and well in asbestos litigation. As the landscape of defendants changes as trial approaches, so do the defenses. Whether by settlement or dismissal, the remaining defendant or defendants have taken advantage of diversity issues to remove cases to more favorable federal jurisdictions with stark contrast in results. That contrast should give defendants cause for pause prior to removal.

Recently, in Wieland v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., a brake defendant removed the case …

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Remand in Meso Case Denied Upon Finding that Common Defense Exception Inapplicable

U.S. District Court C.D. of Illinois, February 25, 2020

ILLINOIS – The plaintiff sued several defendants alleging that Roy Hicks developed mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos for which the defendants were allegedly responsible. Specifically, Mr. Hicks alleged exposure to asbestos while working for the City of Bloomington, where he encountered asbestos from vehicles made by Ford, and others. He also alleged exposure to products from John Crane as a result of his wife’s work at General Electric. As trial approached, the …

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Court Grants Remand Based on Lack of Complete Diversity

United States District Court, Southern District of Illinois, February 20, 2020

ILLINOIS – The plaintiffs, Arland and Dina Wieland, originally filed the instant matter in the Circuit Court of the Third Judicial Circuit, Madison County, alleging that Arland sustained injuries due to asbestos exposure. Trial in the matter started on Feb. 20, 2020 and on Feb. 19, the defendant ArvinMeritor removed the matter, asserting diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiffs filed an emergency motion for remand. 

The plaintiffs are citizens of New Mexico. In their notice of removal, ArvinMeritor …

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Five Million Dollar Verdict Against Caulk and Tape Manufacturer Reversed for Lack of Evidence of Substantial Factor

ILLINOIS – The plaintiffs brought suit against more than 50 defendants alleging their decedent, Willard Krumwiede, developed and passed from mesothelioma as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos for which the defendants were liable. Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that Krumwiede was exposed to asbestos tape and caulk made by Tremco. Both products were purported to contain chrysotile fibers. According to the plaintiffs, Krumwiede used the products during his career as a window glazer where he installed panes of glass into wood and aluminum frames. …

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Illinois First District Appellate Court Affirms $4.89 Million Verdict

ILLINOIS – On December 19, 2019, the Illinois First District Appellate Court affirmed $4.89 million verdict rendered in favor of deceased pleural mesothelioma claimant, Patrick O’Reilly, against the defendant, John Crane, Inc.

The decedent O’Reilly was a union pipefitter from 1957 to 1998, and alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from replacing and installing valves using packing and gaskets manufactured by John Crane. Following trial, a Cook County jury awarded damages in the amount of $6,022,814.06. The court reduced the verdict by $1,137,500 in …

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Plaintiffs’ Civil Conspiracy Claims Fail Due to Established Illinois Precedent

ILLINOIS — In John Jones et al. v. Pneumo-Abex LLC, et al., the Supreme Court of Illinois ruled on consolidated appeals of Owens-Illinois, Inc. and Pneumo Abex LLC regarding conspiracy claims related to suppressing information about the dangers of asbestos. Approximately 20 years ago, this court held that jury verdicts entered against Owens Corning and Owens-Illinois based on claims of civil conspiracy could not stand and that those defendants were entitled to judgment as a matter of law. The appellate court reached the same …

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Limitations Challenge on Railroad Worker’s FELA Claim Denied

ILLINOIS — The plaintiff Theresa Romcoe filed suit under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA) against the defendants, Illinois Central Railroad Company and Northeast Illinois Regional Commuter Railroad Corporation dba Metra Rail, alleging that her husband had passed away from esophageal cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos during the course of his employment. Specifically, the decedent had worked in several positions, including as a switchman to conductor from 1974-1984.  The decedent was diagnosed with cancer on September 5, 2013 and passed on November …

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Denial of Rail Defendant’s Forum Non Conveniens Motion Upheld on Appeal

ILLINOIS — The defendant, BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), made an interlocutory appeal of the trial court’s denial of their forum non conveniens motion, seeking transfer from Cook County, Illinois to Knox County, Illinois, in a matter involving brakeman and locomotive engineer, Randall Alley. Alley alleged that his lung cancer was caused in part by unsafe working conditions at BNSF, where he worked for 40 years. He worked on BNSF trains that departed from train yards in Fort Madison, Iowa and Kansas City, Missouri for 28 …

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Exclusive Remedy Defense Eliminated in Illinois for Latent Injury Claims

ILLINOIS – In 2015, the Illinois Supreme Court held in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 43 N.E. 3d 108 (2015), that the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Disease Act was the exclusive remedy for state employees who contract mesothelioma, or another latent disease or injury. May 2019 in enacting Illinois SB 1596, the Illinois legislature revoked the Illinois Supreme Court’s ruling and amended the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Disease Act to permit civil tort actions by employees against their employers …

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