Defendants’ Request of Sanctions for Plaintiffs’ Counsel Failure to Preserve Lung Tissue Denied

U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, Houston Division, March 31, 2021

In this asbestos action, Mr. James LaFrentz (the decedent) wore a 3M dust mask while working for General Dynamics from 1978 until 1984. The issue of whether the decedent suffered from mesothelioma or lung cancer was in contention before his passing. Several defendants, including General Dynamics and 3M, informed the plaintiffs’ counsel that the decedent’s diagnosis was in dispute and requested that the plaintiffs’ counsel preserve the decedent’s tissue, both orally …

Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Affirmed for Union Carbide Due to Lack of Causation

Court of Appeals of Texas, Fourteenth District, Houston, March 2, 2021

In this instant take-home exposure matter, the trial court granted defendant Union Carbide’s motion for summary judgment and the plaintiff now appeals the trial court’s order. The appellate court affirms the lower court’s decision. In response to Union Carbide’s motion, appellants offered several pieces of evidence including the decedent’s medical records, the deposition of all three of the decedent’s children (Ronda, Michelle, and Royce), Royce’s affidavit, and an expert affidavit from Dr. Richard Cohen.…

Continue Reading

Court Reverses Judgment Against Garlock Based on Causation, But Affirms Against Premises Owner

TEXAS – In Union Carbide Corporation and GST Settlement Facility v. Oscar Torres and Dora Torres, the Court of Appeals of Texas, Corpus-Christi-Edinburg ruled on an appeal filed by appellants GST Settlement Facility, successor-in-bankruptcy to Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC and Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) following a jury trial in favor of appellees. The appellees lawsuit alleged that Oscar Torres developed mesothelioma as a result of his exposure to asbestos while working at a UCC chemical plant with Garlock gaskets. UCC appealed based upon the …

Continue Reading

Denial of Texas County’s Jurisdictional Challenges Upheld on Appeal

TEXAS — In a case involving the mesothelioma death of a longtime jurist in Jefferson County, Texas attributed in part to asbestos remediation at the courthouse, a Texas Appellate Court affirmed the order of the trial court on all issues against defendant/appellant Jefferson County with the exception of the applicability of claims for exemplary damages, which were dismissed. Jefferson County filed an interlocutory appeal based on the trial court’s denial of its jurisdictional challenges. We have previously reported on the Appellate Court’s handling of the …

Continue Reading

Concurring Opinion Rules Notice Was Timely Under Texas Tort Claims Act

TEXAS – Justice Terry Jennings of the Court of Appeals of Texas issued a concurring opinion in the Jefferson County v. Farris appeal to dismiss a specific argument made by the county. The facts of the case involved a mesothelioma claim filed against the county by the wife of Judge James Farris, who passed only nine days after being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2004. He was allegedly exposed to asbestos during a remediation project taking place at the county courthouse in 1996. Jefferson County argued …

Continue Reading

Notice of Claim Provisions Bar Jurist’s Asbestos Claims Against Municipality

TEXAS — Judge James Farris spent almost his entire legal career, until retiring in December of 1996, in the Jefferson County courthouse, which included a period of asbestos remediation at the courthouse, during which he was allegedly exposed to asbestos. Judge Farris developed mesothelioma in October of 2004 and tragically passed away just nine days after he first sought medical treatment. Judge Farris’s widow, Ellarene Farris, asserted wrongful death and survival causes of action against numerous entities, including Jefferson County, in its capacities as premises …

Continue Reading

Case Remanded After Appeals Court Finds Plaintiff’s Expert Unreliable

TEXAS — Plaintiff Leonard Baca alleged that while working for defendant BNSF’s predecessor in interest, he was exposed to asbestos, causing him to develop asbestosis. The plaintiff retained an expert, Dr. Alvin Schonfeld, a pulmonogist, who provided a report in which he concluded that Baca’s asbestosis was causally related to his exposure to asbestos during his employment. BNSF moved to exclude Dr. Schonfeld’s causation opinion as inadmissible because it was unreliable under well-established case law. The trial court denied the motion, but also granted permission …

Continue Reading

Tire Manufacturer Found Grossly Negligent on Appeal of Jury Verdict

Carl Rogers was a longtime employee of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company.  After he died of mesothelioma, his wife, Vicki Rogers, brought suit against Goodyear.  At the conclusion of a three-week trial, the jury found by clear and convincing evidence that asbestos fibers from the Goodyear Tyler facility were a proximate cause of Carl’s mesothelioma that resulted in his death. The jury also found by clear and convincing evidence that Carl’s death resulted from Goodyear’s gross negligence. The jury also determined that $15 million …

Continue Reading

Collateral Estoppel Did Not Bar Petition to Perpetuate Testimony in Federal Court Prior to Filing Suit Due to Key Distinctions Between Federal and Texas Rules of Civil Procedure

The petitioner filed suit against various entities after developing mesothelioma, alleging asbestos exposure while working for Square D in Cedar Rapids, Iowa from 1971-76. Due to her extremely bad and rapidly deteriorating health, the petitioner sought a court order authorizing her oral and videotaped deposition for use in her anticipated lawsuit for either personal injury or wrongful death. The court granted her request to perpetuate testimony.

The court analyzed Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 27(a), which establishes the procedure for obtaining a pre-suit deposition to …

Continue Reading

Beware Drafters of Purchase Agreements — Unambiguous Terms in Stock Purchase Agreement Assigns Asbestos Liabilities to Purchasers

Plaintiff Cooper Industries brought a declaratory judgment against Precision Castparts Corp. and Wyman-Gordon Company, for defense and indemnification costs for personal injury asbestos lawsuits, pursuant to a stock purchase agreement between Cooper and Wyman. The plaintiff and defendants both filed summary judgments; the plaintiff’s summary judgment was granted in part, and the defendants’ summary judgment was denied.

Cooper acquired Cameron Iron Works in 1989; in 1994 Wyman purchased the Forged Products business unit from Cooper pursuant to a Stock Purchase Agreement (SPA). In 1995, Cooper …

Continue Reading