Summary Judgment Affirmed for Premises Defendant on Causation Grounds

Court of Appeals of Texas, First District, Houston, July 13, 2021

The plaintiff, Thelma Mullins, alleged that the decedent, Donald Mullins, was exposed to asbestos while working at ARCO’s petrochemical plant. The plaintiff claimed that the asbestos exposure caused the decedent to develop mesothelioma, which led to his death. The trial court granted a no-evidence summary judgment in favor of ARCO, which the plaintiff appealed.

By way of background, the plaintiff alleged that the decedent had worked at ARCO’s plant from approximately 1967 to 1983 …

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Asbestos Snow Manufacturer Granted Partial Summary Judgment in its Successor-in-Interest Capacity

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

The plaintiffs brought suit against Novelis Corporation, arguing that decedent Larry Petrie’s mesothelioma and death were caused by exposure to the defendant’s asbestos-containing product, Snow Drift, while decorating the family Christmas tree. The decedent and his family would throw the product on the tree, and he and his siblings would have snowball fights with it. Defendant Novelis moved for summary judgment on all of the plaintiffs’ claims.

Novelis argued that it is not liable …

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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 …

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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.…

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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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 …

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