Denial of Texas County’s Jurisdictional Challenges Upheld on Appeal Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston, 1st District, December 28, 2018

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 Court of Appeals of Texas, December 28, 2018

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 Court of Appeals of Texas, Houston (1st Dist.), August 31, 2018

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 Court of Appeals of Texas, March 29, 2018

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 Court of Appeals of Texas, Dallas, August 31, 1027

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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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 U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, September 30, 2016

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…
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Beware Drafters of Purchase Agreements — Unambiguous Terms in Stock Purchase Agreement Assigns Asbestos Liabilities to Purchasers U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas, September 12, 2016

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…
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Plaintiff’s Claims Barred on Statute of Limitations Based on When She Learned of Her Injuries U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas, Sherman Division, August 31, 2016

Plaintiff Marci Jones filed suit claiming that, during the course of her employment, she suffered personal injuries from being exposed to asbestos, mold and dead animals. The plaintiff was employed by Noble Finance, who rented a commercial building from defendants Andy and Nancy Anderson. The plaintiff’s suit against defendants includes claims for her personal injuries as well as loss of earning capacity and the cost of medical treatment. The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting among other arguments, that the plaintiff’s claims failed…
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Premises Defendant Granted Conditional Mandamus Relief in Finding the Lower Court Abused its Discretion in Ordering a New Trial Following a No Liability Jury Verdict Court of Appeals of Texas, Ninth District, April 23, 2015

The plaintiff’s decedent, Willis Whisnant, Jr., worked as a pipefitter at various plants from 1947 through 1986. He worked off and on at DuPont from 1966 through 1975, where he was allegedly exposed to airborne asbestos fibers. The decedent, who had a 40-year smoking history, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 1997. He commenced his personal injury action in 1998 and died, prior to trial, in 1999. Nine years after the original suit was commenced, the plaintiff’s attorneys engaged additional experts who opined that decedent’s…
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California Applies Higher Texas Standard on Causation and Dismisses Asbestos Case California Court of Appeals, February 10, 2015

In this California state case, the plaintiff, a Texas resident, claimed asbestos exposure in both California and Texas, although the particular claimed exposure against certain defendants was in Texas. These defendants moved for summary judgment, claiming that under Texas law, the plaintiff was unable to meet the legal standard of causation. Both the lower and appellate courts in California, under choice of law principles, ruled that Texas law applied and, under the higher causation standard in Texas, granted summary judgment. With respect to Texas law…
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