Defendants Fail to Make Prima Facie Entitlement to Summary Judgment Since They Failed to Show Their Products Could Not Have Contributed to Decedent’s illness or Death Supreme Court of New York, Erie County, Eighth Judicial District, September 21, 2015

In this case, the decedent alleged exposure to asbestos while working at Republic Steel from the early 1960s through the early 1970s. It is claimed he was exposed to insulation materials that were removed and installed in his vicinity while he was a laborer and to materials used to make “hot tops” while a crane operator. Defendants Insulation Distributors, Inc. (IDI), Beazer East, and Ferro Corporation all moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to prove that the decedent, who died prior to…
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Insurer Claims that Firm Overbilled by $3M in Asbestos Lawsuits

On Monday, October 5, 2015 a Swiss Re insurer filed suit in a California federal court claiming that a law firm billed $3 million extra in several asbestos lawsuits.  Initially, Westport Insurance Corp. launched an investigation into Vasquez Estrada & Conway LLP’s billing practices after it became suspicious of a firm partner’s estimates for defending Hill Brothers Chemical Co. In the complaint, the insurer alleges that Vasquez Estrada attorneys billed insurers more than $9 million for two years of work defending Hill Brothers, $6 million…
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Pre-Judgment Interest Above Policy Limits Recoverable Under Pennsylvania Law

General Refractories Company (GRC) has been named as a defendant in over 30,000 asbestos lawsuits since 1978. In 2002, GRC tendered to it excess carriers, including Travelers Casualty (Travelers) and Surety Company (formerly The Aetna Casualty and Surety Company) under a 1985-86 policy. Travelers denied coverage under an asbestos exclusion.  GRC proceeded to settle many of the underlying claims and pursued coverage from Travelers.  In March 2015, the United States District Court ruled that the asbestos exclusion was unenforceable, leaving only a calculation of damages…
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Wife’s Testimony on Decedent’s Use of Brake Product and Expert Causation Testimony Held Sufficient to Defeat Summary Judgment U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, October 2, 2015

In this federal court case, decedent Richard Bell alleged exposure to asbestos while performing car maintenance from 1964 through the late 1970s. Defendant Honeywell, as successor of Bendix, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the decedent’s wife’s deposition testimony that the decedent used Bendix brakes with the word “asbestos” on the packaging was hearsay; that the testimony could not be used against it to oppose summary judgment since it was taken prior to Honeywell becoming a party; and that the plaintiff failed to show the…
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Asbestos Firm Ordered to Turn Over Client Information in Garlock RICO Case

U.S. District Judge Graham Mullen affirmed a previous judge’s refusal to quash subpoenas issued by Garlock Sealing Technologies to 29 law firms, including Baron & Budd, Brayton Purcell, and Williams Kherker Hart Boundas. Garlock argued that the client records sought from these firms could help establish a pattern of racketeering by Belluck & Fox.  Though Judge Mullen agreed with Belluck & Fox’s assertion that the discovery requests were broad, he noted, “[y]et, so is the fraud in which Plaintiffs are alleged to have engaged.” In…
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Philadelphia Federal Judge Puts Hold on a Dozen Asbestos Claims by Formerly Bankrupt Plaintiffs U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, October 6, 2015

On Tuesday, October 6, 2015, U.S. District Judge Eduardo Robreno ordered a stay on a dozen nearly-identical asbestos claims brought by plaintiffs who had previously sought bankruptcy protection. Judge Robreno stated in all of them that the plaintiffs’ trustees must be given the choice of either pursuing or abandoning the claims. In one such case, the plaintiff was a ship worker who had filed an asbestos claim in 2001, followed by a bankruptcy action in 2003. His claim, however, was not included as part of…
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Supreme Court of Pennsylvania Denies Constitutionality Appeal of Asbestos-Related Liability Regulatory Statute Superior Court of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, September 29, 2015

On September 29, 2015, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania denied the appeal of the executor of the estate of James Markovsky.  Markovsky, who had argued that a statute regulating asbestos-related liability should be found unconstitutional, had petitioned for appeal after the Superior Court of Pennsylvania affirmed a grant of summary judgment in favor of Crown Cork & Seal Co. Originally, on October 6, 2011, Markovsky filed a complaint against Crown alleging that he contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to the asbestos products of…
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Pittsburgh Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Secondary Exposure Friction Case

Plaintiff Larry English commenced this wrongful death mesothelioma case by claiming that his wife, Sherry English, was exposed to asbestos on Mr. English’s clothing. Mr. English, who worked for a variety of Ford dealerships between 1968 and 2011, worked with gaskets, brakes, and clutches. His claim is that the asbestos from these products remained on his clothing when he went home, allegedly exposing Mrs. English to asbestos. The plaintiff also claimed exposure to joint compound in connection with work in the home. Mrs. English was…
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Federal Court Grants and Denies Various Summary Judgment Motions, Based on Maritime and Civil Law U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, September 30, 2015

Defendants Crown Cork & Seal, CBS Corporation, General Electric, Crane Co., Gardner Denver, John Crane, Link-Belt Construction Equipment, and Riley Power filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The case had been removed to federal court pursuant to the Federal Officer Removal Statue. The plaintiff alleged he developed pleural mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during Naval service and while employed by Louisville Gas & Electric. Many other defendants moved for summary judgment on other grounds; this case addressed those…
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Court Applies Admiralty Jurisdiction to Grant Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, September 30, 2015

The plaintiff brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging asbestos exposure while a crew member on two tugboats the Navy leased to his employer, General Dynamics Corporation. The plaintiff also brought a products liability claim under Connecticut law, and his wife brought a loss of consortium claim. The defendant moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under the FTCA, because the lawsuit sounds in admiralty, for which a suit under the Suits in Admiralty Act (SIAA) or the Public Vessels Act…
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