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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Illinois Passes Bill Lifting 25 Year Statute of Repose for Occupational Disease Lawsuits

ILLINOIS — Senate Bill 1596 passed in the House on Thursday, March 14, and is expected to be signed by Governor J.B. Pritzker in short order. When Governor Pritzker signs the bill, it will take effect immediately.

The measure will change provisions of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act and Workers’ Occupational Disease that had imposed a 25-year statute of repose for occupational injury and a three-year statute for occupational disease. The measure will effectively overturn Folta v. Ferro Engineering, an Illinois Supreme Court decision …

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On Reversal, Aircraft Manufacturer Successfully Obtains Removal on Federal Officer Grounds

ILLINOIS – The plaintiffs Bruce and Barbara Betzner (plaintiffs) commenced a lawsuit in Illinois State Court (Madison County) against, among other defendants, Boeing Company (Boeing), alleging that, during the course of the plaintiff Bruce Betzner’s (Mr. Betzner) employment, he was exposed to asbestos-containing products, resulting in his mesothelioma diagnosis. With particular regard to Boeing, the plaintiffs allege that Mr. Betzner’s assembly of heavy bomber aircraft for the United State Air Force, which involved the installation of Boeing components, exposed him to asbestos.

Boeing filed a …

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Denial of Judgment Notwithstanding The Verdict Reversed For Welding Rod Defendant

Illinois — Following a trial in which a jury found that Hobart Brothers Company (Hobart) had failed to warn the plaintiff, Charles McKinney of the dangers of asbestos from its welding rods, Hobart appealed the trial court’s denial of its motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s denial, finding no evidence in the record demonstrating that the welding industry knew in the 1960s that welding rods could release asbestos fibers, or that welding rods were a substantial cause of …

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Summary Judgment on Civil Conspiracy Claims Reversed

ILLINOIS — The plaintiffs, John and Debra Jones, filed suit against Pneumo Abex LLC (Abex), Owens-Illinois, Inc. (O-I) and others, alleging John suffered from lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos while employed in construction. The plaintiffs alleged that Abex entered into a civil conspiracy with Johns-Manville to suppress information about the harmful health effects of asbestos. They asserted the same claim against O-I with regard to an alleged conspiracy with Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation (O-C). The trial court granted summary judgment for the …

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Concrete Factual Information Starts the 30-Day Removal Clock

ILLINOIS — In September 2016, the plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma, and in September 2017, he filed suit against a defendant, and a number of other parties, alleging his illness was caused by exposure to asbestos. The plaintiff claimed that his exposure occurred between 1970 and 2004 while he was serving in the United States Air Force, working as a commercial airline mechanic, and/or engaging in home remodeling and other activities.

The defendant was served with the plaintiff’s complaint on September 21, 2017 and filed …

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