Zoom: The Final Trial Frontier?

In a case recently reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the nation saw the first asbestos-related Zoom trial go to verdict. While the trial went through to verdict, it was not without serious procedural and technological hiccups that were noted by both sides of the bar and the judge.

During the trial, Honeywell’s counsel filed a “notice of irregularities,” which listed myriad issues with the jurors themselves, including seeing a juror working and emailing from another computer during opening statements and two jurors looking …

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Deposition Testimony Implicates Federal Officer Removal; Removal Deemed Timely

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, September 3, 2020

The plaintiff, Lana Waguespack, initiated the instant matter in state court against Avondale and others asserting that she contracted mesothelioma after being exposed to asbestos brought home on the clothes of her father, brother, and ex-husband. During a deposition, according to Avondale, the plaintiff’s father testified that an area that he worked in was exclusively for the construction of federal vessels.

Avondale received the transcript on June 12, 2020, and filed the Notice …

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Zoom Trial Ends With Defense Verdict

Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, September 3, 2020

In one of the first asbestos-related Zoom trials in the country, Honeywell International, Inc., successor in interest to Bendix Corp., won a defense verdict. The plaintiff, Ricardo Ocampo, alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from working as a janitor at various auto dealerships and manufacturing businesses between 1991-1997 and that his exposure caused him to develop mesothelioma.

The jury deliberated for two days before returning the defense verdict.…

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Various Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment Denied on Duty to Warn in Naval Action

U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, August 31, 2020

The plaintiff, Linda Hammell, alleges that her husband decedent Arthur Hammell contracted mesothelioma and died from exposure to asbestos. By way of background, the decedent enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1960, and served on active duty in the U.S. Navy from April 1962 through September 1964.

During the decedent’s time on active duty, he was assigned to the U.S.S. Charles H. Roan (Roan) where he maintained boilers, forced draft blowers, valves, pumps, …

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Brake Machine Defendant Wins Summary Judgment

Superior Court of Delaware, August 31, 2020

The plaintiff alleged that Raymond Petit, a deceased mesothelioma claimant, was exposed to asbestos from working with AMMCO brake arching and lathe machines during his time working at auto parts and auto body shops from 1981 to 1989. During his deposition, Petit testified that he “used the lathe to turn brake drums ‘several times a day,’ and would turn ‘maybe 20, 30 drums on a weekend.’” He also testified that he would grind brake shoes with sandpaper “occasionally,” …

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Remand Motion Denied In Action Removed on Diversity Grounds

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, August 28, 2020

The state court matter of Paul Hotard was removed by a defendant to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on diversity grounds. The plaintiff filed a motion seeking to remand the matter to state court because, the plaintiff argued, the “removing party … was not identified as a defendant in the petition.” (Id., at p. 51). The defendant, in turn, argued that removal was proper as per “Louisiana’s system …

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Punitive Damage Claim Can Go Forward Against Shipyard

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, August 26, 2020

The plaintiffs allege that Callen L. Dempster (decedent) was exposed to asbestos while working at Avondale Shipyard from 1984 to 1996. In their Supplemental and Amending Petition for Damages, the plaintiffs asserted a claim for punitive damages, specifically stating that “Callen Dempster was exposed to asbestos during the years of 1984 through 1996. His injuries were caused by defendants’ wanton and reckless disregard for public safety in the storage, handling, and transportation of asbestos …

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Plaintiff’s Misconduct of Withholding Exposure Information of Decedent Leads to Upholding of New Trial for Premise Owner

Court of Appeals of Oregon, August 26, 2020

The decedent, Robert Golik, died of mesothelioma allegedly as a result of his exposure to asbestos. The decedent passed away prior to the lawsuit being filed, and was therefore, never deposed regarding his work history or exposure to asbestos. At trial, The plaintiff, Alice Golik, presented evidence that the decedent was an employee of Armstrong Contracting and Supply Corporation (AC&S) and worked as an insulator helper at the defendant, Georgia Pacific Consumer Products, LLC’s (GPCP) paper mill …

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Gasket Manufacturer’s Motion to Dismiss on Personal Jurisdiction Denied Due to Conclusory Arguments

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, Central Division, August 25, 2020

Defendant Federal-Mogul Asbestos Personal Injury Trust, as successor to both the Felt-Products Manufacturing Company and the Vellumoid Division of Federal-Mogul Corporation, filed separate motions to dismiss on behalf of each. The court notes that both motions failed to comply with Local Rule 7.2 as they were not accompanied by a brief. Furthermore, the arguments in the rough two-page motions were completely undeveloped and conclusory, which the court noted was enough to …

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Pump Manufacturer Withstands Challenge to Protective Order, Loses Personal Jurisdiction Argument

Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District, August 24, 2020

The Appellate Court of Illinois, Fifth District, recently issued a discovery decision in the matter of Linder v. A.W. Chesterton Co., which also touched on the issue of personal jurisdiction. In Linder, the plaintiffs alleged that asbestos dust attributable to industrial pumps manufactured by GIW contributed to plaintiff decedent, Robert Linder’s mesothelioma. At the outset of the case, GIW filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, arguing that as a Georgia …

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