Federal Magistrate Judge Recommends Denial of Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand in Two Cases Originating in Delaware

In two nearly identical cases from the District of Delaware, the magistrate judge issued a report and recommendation, recommending the denial of the plaintiffs’ motion to remand to state court.

In the first case, the plaintiff husband and wife alleged that the husband developed mesothelioma through exposure to asbestos while serving as a boiler tender in the Navy, while working at the shipyard, and through personal automotive work. In the second case, the plaintiff husband and wife alleged that the husband developed mesothelioma through asbestos …

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Plaintiff’s Failure to List Claims in Bankruptcy Petition Not Enough to Warrant Judicial Estoppel of Such Claims

In 2000, the plaintiff brought claims for non-malignant asbestos-related diseases, including ship owners represented by Thompson Hine LLP. In 2004, the plaintiff filed for bankruptcy, without listing his asbestos claims as assets. Three months later the bankruptcy case was closed. In 2007, the plaintiff brought claims for a malignant asbestos-related disease; in 2011 the MDL reinstated asbestos actions, of which this case was a part.  The defendant ship owners moved for summary judgment, arguing that (1) the non-malignancy claims were barred by judicial estoppel because …

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Several Defendants Not Named in Plaintiffs’ Interrogatory Answers Move for Summary Judgment With Various Results

In this case, the plaintiff, Mark Denison, claimed exposure to asbestos from numerous products while working at his father’s hardware store from 1964-65 to 1969, Dunkirk Radiator from 1972 to 1987, and from his own automotive repair business from 1980 to the early 1990s.  Defendants Bird, Inc., Euclid-Hitachi Heavy Equipment, Inc., F.E. Myers, Oshkosh Corporation, and WT/HRC Corporation all moved for summary judgment.

In its ruling, the court highlighted that none of the moving defendants were identified in the plaintiffs’ answers to interrogatories. The court …

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Big Picture Thinking About Headlines Involving “Cancer”: Is Cancer Environmentally-Induced or Due to “Bad Luck”?

When cancer causation is at the heart of a toxic tort case it is critical to remain abreast of current research in the field. A good toxic tort lawyer must consider not only the science that will help him win his case, but also maintain an awareness of the scientific research related to basic knowledge about cancer causation, cancer prevention, and cancer treatments. This knowledge will ultimately translate into better openings, direct examinations, cross examinations, and closings.

Last month we addressed some trial-specific thinking, …

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District Court Adopts Report and Recommendation of Magistrate in Both Granting and Denying Summary Judgment to Various Defendants

The district court reviewed the report and recommendations of the U.S. Magistrate Judge, which recommended granting and denying summary judgment to various defendants. The court applied maritime law in granting summary judgment to Electrolux, ABB, Velan Valve, GE, CBS, Foster Wheeler, and Owens-Illinois, and denying summary judgment to Buffalo, Ingersoll-Rand (denied in part), Aurora, IMO, and Warren (denied in part). The court granted summary judgment on the issue of punitive damages to Ingersoll Rand and Warren, because the plaintiff failed to establish same.

The court …

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Japanese Court Finds Construction Materials Makers Liable for Failure to Warn About Asbestos Exposure

On January 29, 2016, the Kyoto District Court held that nine companies must pay 112 million yen in damages for selling materials without warning that they contained asbestos. Presiding Judge Kazumi Higa further ordered the government to pay 104 million yen for its failure to take preventative measures.

This lawsuit arose when a former construction worker filed a claim for damages for the lung cancer and mesothelioma contracted by inhaling asbestos at construction sites.  He demanded a payment of about one billion yen from the …

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Gasket Manufacturers’ Motions for Summary Judgment and Motion to Change Venue Denied in Naval Exposure Case

In this federal court case, the plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos in various products through the course of his employment in the 1960s and 1970s. He specifically alleged asbestos exposure from working with gaskets manufactured by Excelsior Packing & Gasket Company and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company while serving in the Navy from 1970 to 1975 aboard the U.S.S. Surfbird and U.S.S. Hector. On both ships, the plaintiff’s duties included replacing gaskets on pumps, valves, and boilers. He testified to changing flange gaskets …

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Post-Bankruptcy Petition Malignancy Claim Not “Sufficiently Rooted” in Pre-Bankruptcy Past to Constitute Property of the Estate

In a follow-up to cases previously reported on in ACT, the plaintiffs in this case, Administrators of the Estate of Bjorn Dahl, alleged that the decedent, Mr. Dahl, was exposed to asbestos while working aboard various ships. The plaintiffs assert that the decedent developed two asbestos-related illnesses, a non-malignancy injury dating back to 1995 and a malignancy claim arising in 1997, as a result of his exposure to asbestos aboard those ships. In 1995, Mr. Dahl brought claims for non-malignant asbestos-related disease. Mr. Dahl’s …

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Jury in St. Louis City, Missouri Awards Multi-Million Dollar Verdict to Wife of Lifelong Electrician

The plaintiff’s decedent was a lifelong electrician from 1963 to 2001 with a large number of work sites.  The decedent died of mesothelioma at age 72. After numerous co-worker depositions, the case proceeded to trial against defendant The Okonite Company. The jury found that Okonite was negligent and assigned it 5 percent of the total causal responsibility. The jury awarded: $165,000 medical expenses; $1,825,000 for decedent’s pain and suffering; $350,000 for pre-death loss of society and companionship; and $1,825,000 post-death loss of society and companionship, …

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Valve Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment Under Maritime Law Where it May Have Recommended, But Did Not Provide, Asbestos-Containing Flange Gaskets

In this federal court case, it is alleged that the decedent, Thomas Dandridge, was exposed to asbestos while working as a pipefitter and coppersmith at the Charleston Naval Shipyard from 1965 to 1976. It was claimed that the decedent was exposed to asbestos from a variety of products, including flange gaskets used to link Crane Co. valves to pipe lines. The case was originally brought in the court of common pleas in Charleston County and was later removed federal court, where Crane moved for summary …

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