Madison County Jury Renders Defense Verdict for Brake Grinder Manufacturer

Plaintiffs Stan and Janet Urban, of West Bloomfield, Michigan, filed a lawsuit in Madison County, Illinois in March 2013. The plaintiffs alleged Mr. Urban developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from using Ammco brake grinders while employed as a high school auto technology teacher. Defendant Hennessy Industries was the last remaining defendant at trial. Ammco is Hennessy’s predecessor. The jury disagreed with the plaintiffs’ request for $10 million, and rendered a verdict in favor of Hennessy.

The plaintiffs argued that Hennessy had the power to …

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GE Granted Dismissal on Personal Jurisdiction Grounds While Plaintiff’s Loss of Consortium Claim Remains Against Several Defendants

The plaintiff filed this complaint against multiple defendants asserting claims in negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, and loss of consortium for her decedent’s development of mesothelioma. The decedent was alleged to have been exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy on board the USS Maryland from 1941-46.

Three defendants moved to dismiss the loss of consortium claim. The moving defendants argued that Illinois’ wrongful death act rendered her survival loss of consortium claim as “superfluous.” The plaintiff countered and argued that her loss …

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Court Upholds Verdict in FELA Matter in Face of Limitations Argument But Vacates Damages Award and Remands

In this negligence actions brought under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), the Appellate Court of Illinois, Fourth District, affirmed the jury’s verdict against defendant Illinois Central Railroad Company (Central) but vacated the award of damages and remanded for a new damages hearing. In 2003, Paul McGowan was diagnosed with lung cancer and died. In December 2008, his estate filed a 13-count complaint seeking damages from various defendants as a result of Mr. McGowan’s lung cancer and death. Count IV of the complaint was for …

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No Harm No Foul in Asbestos Product Liability Action With Physical Injury

In a recent decision out of an Illinois appellate court, it was held that physical injury does not always equate to compensable physical harm. In the case of Sondag v. Pneumo Abex Corp., et al, the plaintiffs, Joseph and Phyllis Sondag, sued various defendants they claimed exposed Joseph Sondag to asbestos, which lead to his developing pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant Tremco, Inc. manufactured asbestos containing tape that was used by Joseph as a professional plasterer. The case …

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Insulation Found to be Integral to Turbine as Court Grants Renewed Motion for Summary Judgment Based on Statute of Repose

The plaintiff brought this action against defendants, including Westinghouse, for Earl Norberg, her decedent’s, alleged development of lung cancer as a result of his work around asbestos containing products while working at the Joliet and Romeoville Power stations.

The plaintiff’s fact witness was Mr. Norberg’s brother, Howard, who recalled that he and the plaintiff worked at Joliet Power Station from 1963-65 and again in the mid-1970s. Specifically, he testified that workers were insulating a turbine at Unit 9 while Units 7 and 8 were being …

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Meeting Agendas Between Non-Party Consultant and Counsel for Asbestos Friction Clients Not Privileged

The plaintiffs’ law firm of Maune Raichle Hartley French & Mudd, LLC (Maune) subpoenaed documents from Exponent, Inc., a non-party in Maune’s asbestos litigation pending in Madison County, Illinois. At the request of Exponent, the circuit court held Exponent in friendly civil contempt for refusing to provide an unredacted version of certain documents requested in Maune’s subpoena. Exponent appealed this contempt order as well as the underlying discovery order. Exponent argued that the circuit court abused its discretion in requiring production of these documents, because …

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Distinction Between Physical Harm and Physical Injury Key in Reversal of Trial Court’s Denial of Directed Verdict

The plaintiffs sued defendant Tremco, Inc. alleging asbestos exposure from tape used in the plaintiff’s profession as a plasterer. The plaintiffs alleged the development of pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis. The jury found in favor of the plaintiffs, and Tremco appealed. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment, finding that the court should have granted Tremco’s motion for directed verdict because the plaintiff did not suffer any physical harm.

At trial plaintiff testified that he worked as a plasterer from 1957-1983, and used Tremco …

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Despite Satisfying Foreseeability, Illinois Federal Court Finds No Duty in Secondary Take Home Exposure Case

The plaintiff filed an action for negligence in Illinois state court, alleging she contracted mesothelioma through “take home” exposure from her son, who used asbestos friction paper while working as a mechanic. The defendants removed to federal court based on diversity. Defendant MW Custom Papers LLC, as successor-in-interest to Mead Corporation, filed a 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, arguing it did not owe her a duty. The court granted the motion.

First, MW argued the plaintiff did not allege sufficient facts as to foreseeability. The court …

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Southern District of Illinois Strikes Portions of Pre-Trial Disclosures Containing Vague, Boilerplate Language; Parties Have No Right to Reserve Use of Un-Named Discovery

In four different rulings in the same case, the Southern District of Illinois struck portions of pre-trial disclosures filed by the plaintiff and various defendants. In their pre-trial disclosures, defendants Ingersoll-Rand, Viking Pumps, and Excelsior identified no witnesses and reserved the right to call numerous un-named witnesses at trial. The plaintiff also reserved the right to call numerous un-named witnesses at trial.

The court cited Rule 26: “Under Rule 26(a)(3), pretrial disclosures must (emphasis added) include: ‘(i) the name and, if not previously provided, the …

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Bankruptcy Stay Lifted Against Defendant/Debtor to Allow Plaintiffs to Pursue State Law Claims

In this case, the defendant that used asbestos in some of its production while in business filed chapter 11. There remained 123 claims against the defendant and the defendant’s proposed chapter 11 plan stated that the “liability issues will pass through the bankruptcy and be tried in non-bankruptcy courts having jurisdiction.” The defendant objected to the Asbestos Committee’s motion to lift the automatic stay, arguing the stay should remain in place pending plan confirmation.

In its analysis, the court applied the Fernstrom three-part balancing test …

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