Court Holds Bare Metal Defense Consistent with Tennessee Products Liability Act

Supreme Court of Tennessee at Knoxville, January 4, 2021

On January 4, 2021, the Supreme Court of Tennessee handed down its long-awaited decision in the Coffman matter, and on an issue of first impression, adopted the bare metal defense under Tennessee law. By way of background, the trial court in Coffman granted summary judgment to several pump, valve, and steam trap defendants (Equipment Defendants), finding that they had affirmatively negated their alleged duty to warn on the plaintiffs’ claims that arose from the post-sale integration …

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2020 Year in Review and 2021 Judiciary Outlook

2020 has been one of the most unprecedented years in the court system nationwide due to the coronavirus pandemic. Unsurprisingly, case and motion filing were down in 2020. As previously reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the number of motion filings were significantly down in the second and third quarters of 2020.

In addition, consulting firm KCIC reported that asbestos filings fell by 20 percent during the time period of January through April 2020, as compared to January through April 2019. They similarly reported …

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Reargument of Summary Judgment Denied; Decedent’s Exposure Affidavit Admissible for Motion

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

In this matter, the plaintiff alleges that the decedent’s asbestosis was caused by exposure to the defendants’ asbestos-containing products throughout his career as a mechanic. Pertinent to this motion, the decedent executed an affidavit containing details of his work history and the products with which he worked on July 16, 2014. The decedent was subsequently hospitalized on two separate occasions, and was deemed a candidate for hospice care. He executed a second affidavit on October 8 and passed on …

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Plaintiffs’ Asbestos-Related Claims Not Time Barred Under Vermont’s Statute of Repose

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

In this asbestos matter, the plaintiff, Thomas Pearsons, alleged exposure from maintaining and cleaning a Mergenthaler Model 8 Linotype machine in connection with his employment in a newspaper printing shop. The defendant, Heidelberg, as successor in interest of Mergenthaler Linotype Company, moved for summary judgment on several grounds. First, Heidelberg argued that the plaintiff failed to satisfy the causation standard under Vermont law. However, the court set forth the plaintiff maintained the machine a couple times a day and …

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New Trial Denied Against Boiler Manufacturer; Jury Verdict Not Against Weight of the Evidence

Superior Court of Delaware, December 22, 2020

On December 20, 2019, following a 10-day jury trial, a jury returned a verdict in favor of Cleaver Brooks, Inc. (Cleaver Brooks), the sole defendant at trial. The jury found that this defendant nor any of the other non-party entities listed on the verdict sheet failed to meet the standard of care of providing a safe work place or defective product to the decedent, Gary Stimson.

During trial, each side presented expert testimony on the issue of whether …

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Trailer Manufacturer Awarded Summary Judgment on Component Parts Defense

Supreme Court of the State of New York, New York County

The plaintiff’s decedent, James Martinez, alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from, among other things, performing mechanical work, and specifically brake work, on a fleet of delivery trailers and vehicles from 1974 to 1976. During his discovery deposition, Martinez identified “East” as one of the manufacturers of trailers on which he performed this work. However, he was unable to identify the manufacturer of the old brakes that he removed from the trailers or …

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Talc Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment; Lack of Regular, Frequent, and Proximate Exposure

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Western Division

The plaintiff alleged that her daughter (the decedent) died from peritoneal mesothelioma, which she contracted after exposure to asbestos as a student in a ceramics technology course at Appalachian State University. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff failed to properly identify a product attributable to the defendants. In addition, if the plaintiff was able to establish product identification, the plaintiff failed to proffer evidence the decedent was exposed to the …

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Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied as Removal Deemed Proper Under Federal Officer Statute

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana

In the instant action, plaintiff Martha T. Roussell alleges she contracted mesothelioma through take-home asbestos exposure from the work of her father, Asward P. Theriot, who worked at Avondale Shipyard in 1957 and 1958. The plaintiff brought this action in state court against multiple defendants including Huntington Ingalls Incorporated and Lamorak Insurance Company (The Avondale Interests).

During the course of discovery it was revealed that Asward Theriot’s job application showed that his brother (Roussell’s uncle), Tracy …

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Railway Company Denied Summary Judgment; Service and Expert Issues Remain

The plaintiff, the Estate of Gregorio Sanchez Valdez, alleged occupational exposure to asbestos and diesel fumes while working as a machinist for defendant BNSF Railway Company from 1996 until 2016. Valdez was diagnosed with laryngeal cancer in 2014. BNSF moved for summary judgment on three grounds, of which the court denied all three.

First, BNSF argued that Valdez failed to serve BNSF with process within the three-year statute of limitations under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act. The court observed that the crux of this argument …

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Defendant Contractor Denied Summary Judgment for Plaintiff’s Work Performed at World Trade Center

Supreme Court of New York, New York County, November 30, 2020

The plaintiff, Walter Cannon, filed a complaint against defendant Tishman Realty & Construction Co., Inc., among others, alleging that his lung cancer was caused by his exposure to asbestos when he worked as an electrician installing lighting fixtures at the World Trade Center (WTC) in the 1970s. The plaintiff was employed by Forest Electric at the WTC on weekends for approximately two-and-a-half to three months, shortly before the WTC opened. While working at the …

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