First-of-its-Kind Epidemiology Study Establishes a Lack of Pleural Mesothelioma Risk From Ambient Asbestos Exposure Levels

In nearly every asbestos trial, the plaintiffs’ experts will invariably compare asbestos exposure levels from defendants’ products to airborne concentrations of asbestos in the ambient air. The apparent purpose of such a comparison is to provide a bare semblance of quantitative rigor to otherwise unsupported causation opinions. However, such an argument depends in part on taking a position that the risk from exposure to ambient asbestos levels caries some minute, but unquantifiable, level of risk. The plaintiffs’ experts correctly note that because every living human…
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New Jersey Supreme Court to Review Apportioned Asbestos Verdict in Meso Case

NEW JERSEY — The New Jersey Supreme Court will review whether a recent judgment reduced by allocation amongst 9 companies should be retried. The judgment was rendered in favor of a widow, Donna Rowe, whose husband died of mesothelioma. Mr. Rowe allegedly came into contact with asbestos products while repairing and installing heating equipment. Several defendants settled and therefore did not attend trial. As a result, the trial court admitted certified discovery answers and deposition testimony as the settling defendants’ witnesses were determined to be…
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Brake Manufacturer Obtains Dismissal on Alternative Theories of Liability in Lieu of Product Identification & Proximate Cause Mississippi Southern District Court, November 1, 2018

MISSISSIPPI – The plaintiffs William Dickens and Karla Dickens (plaintiffs) allege that the plaintiff William Dickens’s (Mr. Dickens) mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos within products he used while employed as a mechanic, and within talcum powder products he used.  Ford Motor Company (Ford) was named as one of the defendants since it, “designed its braking systems for asbestos-containing brake linings such that no other material could be utilized as brake linings in those systems.”  Ford moved to dismiss, under Rule 12(b)(6): (i) the…
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Maryland Appellate Court Upholds Motion for Judgment on Basis that Manufacturer Had no Duty to Warn of Take-Home Exposure Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, November 2, 2018

MARYLAND – Concetta Schatz’s (Mrs. Schatz) children (Appellants) commenced a lawsuit against John Crane, Inc. (JCI), alleging that Mrs. Schatz’s husband handled asbestos-containing JCI products while at work and wore his asbestos-covered clothing home for Mrs. Schatz to launder, thereby exposing her to asbestos, resulting in her mesothelioma diagnosis and eventual death. At the close of Appellants’ case-in-chief, JCI moved for judgment on the basis that Appellants failed to prove JCI owed a legal duty to warn Mrs. Schatz.  The lower Circuit Court granted JCI’s…
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Apparent Manufacturer Theory of Liability Upheld for Subsidiary Insulation Cement Manufacturer Washington Supreme Court, November 1, 2018

WASHINGTON – In a case of first impression, the Washington Supreme Court adopted Section 400 of the Restatement (Second) Torts, recognizing a manufacturer’s liability for claims arising prior to the 1981 Product Liability and Tort Reform Act, and assessing such liability by applying the objective reliance test, which requires viewing all of a defendant’s relevant representations from the perspective of the ordinary, reasonable consumer, finding that a Court of Appeals Panel had erred in holding that objective reliance be judged only from the perspective of…
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Court, Sua Sponte, Refuses to Dismiss Thirteen Year Old Non-Malignancy Suit Superior Court of the Virgin Islands, Complex Litigation Division, October 30, 2018

In 2005, The plaintiff Samuel Holloway sued 29 companies including Hess Oil Virgin Islands Corporation (HOVIC) and Amerada Hess Corporation (Hess) through the Motley Rice firm, alleging non-malignant injuries arising from exposure to asbestos.  Proofs of service on summons were never filed; only HOVIC and Hess appeared and answered the complaint, and at the same time filed crossclaims against all defendants.  In 2006, a stipulation of dismissal with prejudice was entered as to HOVIC and Hess, but was silent as to their pending crossclaims.  Also…
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Testimony of Plaintiff’s Key Witness is Inadmissible Hearsay; Court Reverses Judgment in Mesothelioma Claim Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5, California, October 26, 2018

CALIFORNIA — In the matter of Frank C. Hart, he Court of Appeal, First District, Division 5, California reversed a lower court’s judgment against defendant after finding the testimony of plaintiff’s key witness was inadmissible hearsay. The plaintiff Frank C. Hart filed suit alleging that his mesothelioma diagnosed was caused by exposure to asbestos from his work in construction as a pipe layer. The paintiff alleged that defendant supplied asbestos-containing piping that exposed him to asbestos. The lower court’s judgment was primarily based on a…
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Lack of Successor Liability Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment for Shipping Defendant United States District Court, W.D. Washington. October 25, 2018

WASHINGTON — The plaintiffs filed suit against Maersk Line alleging their decedent, Mr. Klopman-Baerselman, was exposed to asbestos from 1955-1959 while working as a merchant marine onboard the Rotterdam Lloyd. The plaintiffs named Maersk as a successor in interest to the Royal Rotterdam Lloyd. The defendant moved for summary judgment arguing that it had no connection to the Rotterdam Lloyd. The plaintiff sought discovery including the deposition of Defendant’s corporate representative Steven Hadder. In the meantime, The defendants removed the case and Maersk moved for…
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Court Partially Denies Talc Manufacturer’s Motion to Dismiss as to Plausible Gross Negligence and Punitive Damages Claims, but Grants Motion as to Speculative Conspiracy Claim U.S. District Court North Carolina, M.D., October 18, 2018

NORTH CAROLINA – The plaintiffs Everett VanHoy and Lucille VanHoy (plaintiffs) filed this personal-injury action against multiple defendants, including American International Industries (AII), alleging the plaintiff Everett VanHoy’s (Mr. VanHoy) mesothelioma was caused by his exposure to a variety of asbestos-containing products throughout his life. AII moved to dismiss, under Rule 12(b)(6), the plaintiffs’ complaint on the following bases: (i) failure to state a gross-negligence claim; (ii) the plaintiffs’ inability to recover punitive damages resulting from a failure prove AII acted with “fraud, malice, or…
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Supreme Court Rules Frye Standard Applies to Florida Cases, Overturns District Court’s Decision Excluding Plaintiff’s Experts’ Causation Testimony Supreme Court of Florida, October 15, 2018

FLORIDA — The plaintiff Richard DeLisle filed a personal injury action against sixteen defendants, claiming that each caused him to be exposed to asbestos. Of the sixteen, DeLisle proceeded to trial against three: Crane, Lorillard Tobacco Co., and Hollingsworth and Vose (H&V). At trial, the plaintiff presented evidence that he was exposed to “Cranite” sheet gaskets containing chrysotile asbestos fibers and Kent cigarettes; the cigarettes were produced by Lorillard’s predecessor, and the filters were supplied by a former subsidiary of H&V. The filters contained crocidolite…
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