Trial Postponed In Mesothelioma Case To Allow Discovery on Premises and Employer Liability Claims U.S. District Court, E.D. Louisiana February 20, 2019

LOUISIANA — The plaintiff Victor Michel alleged that he developed peritoneal mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in his work as a mechanic performing work on engines and brakes. Ford Motor Company is the only remaining defendant in this matter. The court ruled on motions by the plaintiff and Ford, and ultimately continued the trial. After learning that Ford may have owned the dealership at which the plaintiff worked, the plaintiff moved the court to amend their complaint to add premises claims, employer liability claims, and…
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Personal Jurisdiction Motion By Telecom Employer and Auto Company Denied; Case Dismissed Due to Pleading Deficiencies U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania February 20, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA — Yesterday, a federal judge disagreed with the defendants, Ford Motor Company and AT&T, that the court lacked jurisdiction over the companies, but determined that the plaintiff Rhonda J. Gorton’s pleadings were deficient nonetheless. Ms. Gorton sued Ford, AT&T, and several other parties alleging that they exposed her late husband Thomas Gorton to asbestos, causing his mesothelioma. The court found that Gorton’s amended complaint set forth only conclusory allegations against Ford, and lacked any facts that demonstrated potential liability. They further determined that the…
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Summary Judgment Motions Denied for Four Defendants in Two Maritime Cases Filed by Same Plaintiff U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, February 14, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA — Shortly before his death, Obediah Walker, Jr., filed an action in Pennsylvania state court alleging he was exposed to asbestos while serving on the USS Plymouth Rock while enlisted in the Navy from 1969 to 1971. He served as an electrician onboard the Plymouth Rock and was later diagnosed with lung cancer. He was deposed six days after filing suit and was only cross-examined by one defendant before he passed. The defendants Ingersoll-Rand, Warren Pumps and Blackmer Pumps did not cross-examine Walker. Obediah…
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Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied Due to Fraudulent Joinder of Talc Defendant U.S. District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division, February 14, 2019

MISSOURI — The plaintiff Shawnee D. Douglas originally filed suit against multiple entities, contending that her use of talc product caused her malignant mesothelioma. Johnson & Johnson (J&J) removed the case to federal court on the grounds that diversity of citizenship exists because, inter alia, the only Missouri-based defendant, PTI Union, was “fraudulently joined.” Numerous motions were filed by the parties, including: Imerys Talc America, Inc.’s Motion to Dismiss the plaintiff’s Petition for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s Emergency Motion to Remand with…
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Imerys Talc America, Inc., Imerys Talc Vermont, Inc., and Imerys Talc Canada Inc. Seek Bankruptcy Protection United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware, February 13, 2019

DELWARE — Yesterday, Imerys Talc America, Inc., Imerys Talc Vermont, Inc., and Imerys Talc Canada Inc. filed a petition to seek bankruptcy protection under U.S. Chapter 11. In support of their petition, the Imerys entities referenced “significant potential liabilities as a result of thousands of claims by plaintiffs alleging personal injuries caused by exposure to talc mined, processed, and/or distributed by one or more of the Debtors” as a factor leading to the filing. According to the petition, the entities face 13,800 pending ovarian cancer…
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$14 Million Verdict Upheld Against Chemical Plant Defendant South Carolina Court of Appeals, February 13, 2019

SOUTH CAROLINA — A $14 million verdict against Celanese Corporation was upheld on appeal in the mesothelioma case of 70 year old deceased the plaintiff Dennis Seay.  Seay did maintenance and repair work in a Celanese plant as a contractor for Daniel Construction for nine years in the 1970s. In 2015, a South Carolina jury found that Celanese was negligent in running the plant and awarded Seay $12 million dollars in compensatory damages and $2 million dollars in punitive damages. The appellate court disagreed with…
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Failure to Establish Admissible Exposure Evidence Leads to Summary Judgment for Railroad Defendant Court of Appeals of Tennessee, February 12, 2019

TENNESSEE — The plaintiff filed suit against Norfolk Southern Railroad Company (Norfolk) under the Federal Employer’s Liability Act (FELA) alleging he developed lung cancer as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos. Specifically, the plaintiff worked as a brakeman, trainman, and locomotive engineer from 1965-1999. The plaintiff passed from lung cancer in 2003 and his wife was substituted as the plaintiff. Of interest, the plaintiff’s decedent smoked beginning at age 13 and smoked up to one pack of cigarettes per day at times until 2000.…
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Assertion of Innocent Seller Defense Leads to Dismissal of Auto Supplier in Mesothelioma Matter United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division, February 11, 2019

MISSISSIPPI — The plaintiff filed suit against A-1 Auto Parts and Repair (A-1) alleging he developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos from his work as a mechanic and exposure to talcum powder. A-1 moved for dismissal under Federal Rule 12 (b) 6 arguing that it was an “innocent seller” under Mississippi Products Liability Law (MPLA). The plaintiff did not respond or oppose the motion. The MPLA states that a seller shall not be liable for claims unless the “seller or designer exercised…
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Summary Judgment Granted for Crane Co. in Maritime Action U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Western Division February 12, 2019

OHIO — The plaintiff sued Crane Co. and other defendants based upon his alleged exposure to asbestos while serving in the Navy from 1960 to 1967. Crane filed for summary judgment on plaintiff’s maritime law strict liability negligence claims. The court applied the Lindstrom standard. Despite the plaintiff’s urging, the court did not adopt a fact-specific standard with regard to the bare metal defense, instead applying the Sixth Circuit’s bright line rule. The court found that the plaintiff failed to put forth any evidence of…
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$2.38 Million Dollar Verdict Reached in Action Brought on Behalf of Chemical Compounder New Jersey Superior Court for Middlesex County, February 12, 2019

NEW JERSEY — A New Jersey State case, Thomasenia L. Fowler v. Akzo Nobel Chemicals, Inc., et al., No. MID-L-4820-11AS (N.J. Super. Ct., Middlesex Cty.), which was previously covered by ACT, has ended in a plaintiff’s verdict against a raw fiber supplier. On January 22, a Middlesex County jury returned a $2.38 Million dollar verdict in favor of the plaintiff, Thomasina Fowler, individually and as administrator of the estate of Willis Edenfield, but declined to award any punitive damages during the trial’s second phase.…
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