Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Eliminates $110 Million Dollar Verdict Against Talc Defendants Missouri Appellate Court, October 15, 2019

MISSOURI — $110 million verdict against talc defendants Johnson and Johnson and Imerys Talc North America was overturned by a Missouri appellate court this week. The plaintiff Lois Slemp filed suit against the defendants alleging that she developed ovarian cancer as a result of her use of Johnson and Johnson’s talcum powder products for over 40 years. The trial court found personal jurisdiction based on evidence that a Missouri-based company was used to “manufacture, mislabel and package” the products. Applying the Bristol Myers Squibb decision…
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Supreme Court of Connecticut Applies Occupational Disease Exclusion to Claims by Employees of Companies Other Than Insured Supreme Court of Connecticut, October 8, 2019

CONNECTICUT – R.T. Vanderbilt Co., Inc. engaged in the mining and sale of various chemical and mineral products. Vanderbilt sold industrial talc from 1948 to 2008. In the past several decades, Vanderbilt has been named as defendant in thousands of lawsuits alleging personal injury through exposure to asbestos in talc and silica mined and sold by Vanderbilt. The company brought an insurance coverage action against several of its primary insurers related to their handling of claims related to such lawsuits, and the lawsuit grew to…
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Defense Verdict for Talc Defendant After Retrial Los Angeles County Superior Court, October 9, 2019

CALIFORNIA – In a case that was originally declared a mistrial in 2018 after a jury could not reach a verdict, yesterday a Los Angeles jury found that the defendant Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) talcum baby powder did not cause the mesothelioma of the plaintiff, Carolyn Weirick. While the plaintiff purported to present evidence of the presence of asbestos in J&J talc samples through several methods of testing, J&J contended that the fibers discovered in the talc were merely of similar dimensions to asbestos, but…
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Expert Report Summarizing Exposure to General Products Insufficient to Defeat Pump Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment United States District Court, W.D. Washington, October 9, 2019

WASHINGTON – , A federal court in Washington granted a summary judgment motion brought by pump defendant Air & Liquid Systems Corporation (Buffalo Pump) in a case extensively covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker dealing with Merchant Mariner Rudie Klopman-Baerselman, the decedent  who died of mesothelioma. As proof of exposure, the plaintiff had produced an inspection report for the HMS Ranee from 1943 referencing Buffalo Pump.  The plaintiff also produced an expert report by James Delaney, a navel expert, opining that asbestos-containing thermal insulation would…
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Plaintiff’s Failure to Raise Triable Question of Fact on Causation Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment for Talc Defendant State of New York, Supreme Court, July 22, 2019

NEW YORK – Marsha Madar filed suit against Colgate-Palmolive, alleging she developed perionteal mesothelioma as a result of her use of Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder in the 1970s. It was undisputed that she shared with her mother and sister just two bottles of Cashmere Bouquet. She also recalled using hundreds of bottles of other talcum powder. Colgate moved for summary judgment arguing that:
  1. The talc in its Cashmere Bouquet did not contain asbetsos
  2. There is no general causation as a matter of law, because even

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New California Law Limits Length of Asbestos Depositions

CALIFORNIA – California Gov. Gavin Newsom recently signed a bill which imposes significant time limits on the deposition of the plaintiffs suffering from mesothelioma. Under the law, the deposition of a plaintiff suffering from mesothelioma is limited to seven hours if a licensed physician provides a declaration stating that the individual has mesothelioma and there is a substantial medical doubt of survival beyond six months. Upon findings of fairness and that the health of the plaintiff is not endangered by a granting of additional time,…
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Unclear Testimony Regarding Location of Exposure Leads to Dismissal Due to Lack of Personal Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, October 7, 2019

LOUISIANA – The plaintiff, Terry BonDurant, alleged that he was exposed to asbestos while working as an electrician at various refineries in Louisiana, Texas and Florida from 1964 to 1979, and that he contracted mesothelioma from that exposure. He filed suit against numerous defendants, including Gould Electronics. However, at his deposition, the plaintiff did not provide any testimony with regard to exposure from a Gould product. Gould is incorporated in Arizona and maintains its principal place of business there. Gould filed a motion to dismiss…
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Appellate Court Affirms Order for New Trial and Denial of Post-Judgment JNOV Court of Appeal, Second District, Division 4, California, October 4, 2019

CALIFORNIA — Following the conclusion of an extensive trial and creation of a special verdict form, the jury deliberated and rendered a special verdict in favor of one plaintiff, awarding substantial economic and noneconomic damages. However, the trial signed a judgment in favor of the defendant. Post judgment, the trial court denied the plaintiffs’ motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict (JNOV), but granted the plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial. The Court of Appeal for the Second District, Division 4 of California affirmed the post-judgment…
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Talc Verdicts Remain a Mixed Bag in Second Half of 2019

In May 2019, we reported on the state of talc litigation following eye-popping verdicts in Missouri in July 2018 that saw Johnson & Johnson hit with $550 million in compensatory damages and over $4 billion dollars in punitive damages in 22 consolidated ovarian cancer cases. With hundreds of mesothelioma cases pending, alleging exposure to asbestos-contaminated talc and enormous damages potentially at stake, a further update is warranted. The last five months have seen several verdicts, and while it’s clear that talc asbestos cases are defensible,…
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Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Coverage Action, But Grants Colorado River Abstention United States District Court, S.D. Ohio, Western Division, October 2, 2019

OHIO – The William Powell Company, which manufactured asbestos-containing valves and other products, fought a two-front coverage battle with its insurers regarding defense and indemnity for various personal injury cases filed against the company. In Ohio state court, Powell sought a declaratory judgment that it had the right to allocate sums expended to settle various cases, both retrospectively and prospectively. Powell later revised its claims to include breach of contract and a request for money damages. In federal court, Powell filed a lawsuit alleging breach…
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