California Jury Returns Complete Defense Verdict in Mesothelioma Claim

On October 7, 2015, the Alameda County Superior Court in California found in favor of defendant John Crane Inc. in an asbestos exposure lawsuit. The plaintiff, James Harkin, had asserted that his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos from valve packing manufactured by John Crane Inc. and brought several asbestos-related product liability claims.  He further argued that his mesothelioma additionally occurred as a result of working in the presence of Oscar E. Erickson employees while they disturbed asbestos containing materials at an oil refinery.…

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UK Parliamentary Group Declares Final War on Asbestos, Calls for Complete and Accelerated Eradication

In Britain, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Occupational Safety and Health (“the Group”) is demanding legislation that will work to completely eliminate asbestos from buildings in the UK.  The Group wants to put regulations in place that will require the safe, phased, and planned removal of asbestos in every workplace in Britain.  It also wants asbestos reports included in all home-buyers’ surveys and a national program of asbestos surveys.

In its recommendations, the Group wants to require that all commercial, public, and rented domestic premises …

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A Call for an Evidence Based Approach in Asbestos Lung Cancer Cases: Better Late Than Never?

My friend and colleague Laura Kingsley Hong recently authored an article entitled “Controversies Regarding The Role of Asbestos Exposure in the Causation of Lung Cancer: The Need for An Evidence Based Approach,” which appeared in Mealey’s Litigation Report. Ms. Hong’s commentary ties together current medicolegal concepts that are applied in virtually every scientifically-based litigation to longstanding but evolving scientific issues in asbestos litigation. While this is a debate that needs to happen, it raises the interesting question of why now and why not before?

In …

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Federal Court Remands Action Based on Equity Even Though Removal Was Proper on Bankruptcy Issue

In this federal court case, the plaintiffs commenced an action against various defendants for the alleged asbestos exposure and development of mesothelioma for decedent, George Fenicle.  Following decedent’s death, plaintiffs amended their complaint to name Boise Cascade Company and OfficeMax (“Defendants”). The defendants subsequently removed the matter to federal court under 28 U.S.C. 1441, for putative federal question jurisdiction, and 28 U.S.C. 1452, as a bankruptcy-related action. The plaintiffs moved to remand, arguing removal was improper since the defendants did not seek approval from all …

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Claim Representatives For Filing Bankruptcy Trust Claims Have No Standing To Sue Bankruptcy Trusts For Suspending Claims

Plaintiff Mandelbrot Law Firm specialized in preparing and filing asbestos personal injury claims  to various bankruptcy trusts. In 2002, one such trust, the Delaware Trusts, suspended all payment of claims from claimants who the plaintiff represented, due to proceedings in California regarding allegedly fraudulent claims filed by the plaintiff.  The plaintiff then filed this declaratory judgment, arguing that this decision was unauthorized and in violation of the Trusts’ distribution procedures, and that he lost fees. The district court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack …

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The High Court Down Under Allows Earlier Cause of Action Accrual in Lawsuits Claiming Inevitable Onset of Mesothelioma

On October 7, 2015, the High Court of Australia dismissed the appeal of a negligent employer and held that where the contraction of mesothelioma was an inevitable result of asbestos exposure, the cause of action accrues shortly after the initial exposure as opposed to when the symptoms manifest.

This ruling came from a case in which the plaintiff inhaled asbestos fibers in the course of his employment. The plaintiff’s mesothelial cells changed quickly after the initial exposure, but the symptoms were not apparent until 2013 …

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Thoracic Surgeon Provides Heated Chemo, Hope for Veterans With Pleural Mesothelioma

Good news has come out of Boston for veterans suffering from mesothelioma.  Thoracic surgeon Dr. Abraham Lebenthal recently performed the first intraoperative heated chemotherapy procedure for a VA patient with malignant pleural mesothelioma, a procedure that should aid in this hard-fought battle against this cancer.  As Lebenthal said in an interview, “[f]or some veterans, it could mean the difference between long-term survival or not.”

While some doctors have differing opinions as to this heated chemotherapy’s effectiveness, Dr. Lebenthal has been lobbying for its use …

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Texas Federal Court Ruled Primary Carrier Was Entitled to Reimbursement for Settlement Payments But Not Defense Costs in Connection with Underlying Asbestos Cases

LGS Technologies, LP v. U.S. Fire Ins. Co., No. 2:07-CV-399, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 139085 (E.D. Tex. Aug 14, 2015)

On October 12, 2015, the district court from the Eastern District of Texas filed an order, accepting the report and recommendation of the Special Master in connection with an asbestos insurance coverage dispute between a variety of primary and excess carriers.   LGS Technologies, LP (LGS), a gasket company, had both primary policies from 1980-83 with ACE, primary policies from 1983-1993 and excess policies from 1986-1993 …

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Plaintiff’s Failure to Connect Replacement Parts to Pump Manufacturer Key To Upholding Summary Judgment on Appeal

Plaintiffs Jeffrey Lannes and Kristi Johnson appealed the district court’s grant of summary judgment to Flowserve, Jerguson Gage & Valve, and Warren Pumps. The Ninth Circuit affirmed the summary judgment.

Decedent Vernon Lannes was allegedly exposed to asbestos gaskets, packing, and insulation while serving in the Navy. The court noted that “…the defendants shifted the burden of demonstrating a material issue of fact by ‘pointing out … that there is an absence of evidence to support the [plaintiffs’] case.’” Regarding insulation on Warren Pumps, the …

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Court Applied Pennsylvania Law in Asbestos Coverage Case Based on Insured’s Residence

York Int’l Corp. v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., No. 1:10-CV-0692 (M.D. Pa. Oct. 13, 2015)

This decision involves a dispute over whether Pennsylvania or New York law would apply to an insurer’s duty to defend and indemnify an insured for asbestos-related claims. Due to the passage of more than 50 years between the period covered by the relevant policies and the initiation of the lawsuit, no party with firsthand knowledge of the negotiation and consummation of the policies could be identified, and complete copies of …

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