Grant of Summary Judgment to Defendant Reversed Under the Jones Act and Maritime Law

In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the decedent was exposed to asbestos-containing insulation and winch brakes aboard various dredges and commercial vessels on which he worked over the years. “[P]laintiff asserted a Jones Act negligence claim under 46 U.S.C.A. § 30104 and a general maritime unseaworthiness claim under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1333.” The defendants, Weeks Marine, Inc. and American Atlantic Company, moved for summary judgment on the ground that the plaintiff did not establish that he was exposed to asbestos aboard these vessels. The …

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Under Maritime Law, Expert Opinion on Likelihood of Exposure to Original Asbestos Alone Still Insufficient to Establish Causal Connection

In this case, the defendant, Lockheed, moved for reconsideration of the prior decision from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington that there was sufficient evidence establishing a causal link between original asbestos allegedly installed by Lockheed and decedent John McCrossin’s asbestos exposure. In accordance with five decisions out of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, the court recognized that under maritime law an expert affidavit alone of likely exposure to original asbestos is insufficient to establish a causal connection.

However, the court …

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Court Remanded Case, Finding No Colorable Federal Contractor Defense

In this mesothelioma case, the plaintiff brought suit in Maryland State Court claiming exposure to asbestos products while working at a Baltimore shipyard, which then resulted in some of the defendants removing the case to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1) alleging a federal contractor defense. The plaintiff moved to remand, claiming that the removing defendants did not meet their burden of meeting the three-prong test for asserting a colorable federal contractor defense.

The district court agreed that the defendants did not meet their …

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Possible Exposure to Brake Products Held Insufficient to Defeat Summary Judgment

In this wrongful death case, the plaintiff alleged that his father, decedent Fredrick Laurent, was exposed to asbestos from several different jobs, including while working for the City of New Orleans’ brake tag station from 1958 to 1986. Various motor vehicle manufacturing defendants moved for summary judgment on two grounds: 1) the plaintiff could only offer the possibility that decedent, who died prior to testifying, was exposed to asbestos from their products; and 2) the plaintiff’s claim fails the Louisiana “substantial factor” test because any …

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Superseding Cause, Strict Liability, and Government Contractor Defense Analyzed in Motion for Summary Judgment

The plaintiff in this Washington federal court case alleged that the decedent, John McCrossin, was exposed to asbestos from a variety of products, including boilers, while serving in the Navy.  Defendant Fraser’s, which maintained that it only assembled boilers, moved for summary judgment raising superseding cause, strict liability, and government contractor arguments. The court found an issue of fact on all of the arguments and denied summary judgment. On the superseding cause, defense the court held: “In sum, Fraser’s has presented no evidence that, if …

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Dismissal of Asbestos Claims for Lack of Causation Under Connecticut and Maritime Law

In this case, the plaintiff presented an affidavit of decedent attesting to asbestos exposure, a death certificate confirming the mesothelioma, and co-worker depositions showing that the decedent was generally exposed to asbestos at the Groton Connecticut shipyard while overhauling nuclear submarines. Several defendants moved for summary judgment on the ground that while the plaintiff established the decedent’s exposure to asbestos during his career, there was no evidence that causally connected any of that exposure to any of the particular defendants. The court initially ruled that …

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Industrial Hygienist William Dyson’s Dose Reconstruction Methodology for Assessing Levels of Asbestos Exposure Found Scientifically Reliable Under Daubert

The plaintiff in this Louisiana federal court case alleged that decedent pipefitter was exposed to asbestos while at various locations during his career, including a one-to-two-week period at Union Carbide. Union Carbide offered the expert testimony of industrial hygienist Dr. William Dyson to perform a dose reconstruction assessment of the decedent’s level of asbestos exposure throughout his life and specifically during the one-to-two-week period at Union Carbide. The plaintiff moved to preclude Dr. Dyson’s opinion under Federal Rule of Evidence 702 and Daubert principles. In …

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California Applies Higher Texas Standard on Causation and Dismisses Asbestos Case

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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Court Avoids Statute of Repose While Dismissing Plaintiff’s Claims on Lack of Causation

Plaintiff Todd  Alexander commenced a wrongful death action claiming decedent Richard Alexander was exposed to asbestos in connection with his sheet metal, heating, and plumbing business. Defendants Auer and Milwaukee Stove moved for summary judgment under Wisconsin’s Statute of Repose and, in the alternative, along with defendant CertainTeed, on lack of causation. The lower court granted Auer’s and Milwaukee Stove’s motion based on the Statute of Repose and CertainTeed’s motion based on causation.

On appeal, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals avoided ruling on the Statute …

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$190 Million Verdict Reduced to Under $30 Million

Following the highly publicized $190 million verdict in NYCAL in five consolidated asbestos cases, the defendants were successful in reducing the collective award to just under $30 million on a post-trial motion. While the trial court rejected the defendants’ arguments on certain evidentiary issues, causation, apportionment, consolidation, and recklessness, it recognized that the verdicts materially deviated from what would be reasonable compensation.

The court applied the reasoning from the recent appellate court ruling in the Dummit case where the First Department assessed reasonable compensation based …

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