On December 19, 2019, the First District issued its opinion in Daniels v. Arvinmeritor, Inc., affirming a $6 million verdict for the estate of Patrick O’Reilly, a union pipefitter from 1957 to 1998 who passed away from mesothelioma in April of 2017. 2019 IL App (1st) 190170 (formerly Daniels v. John Crane, Inc.). John Crane was the only defendant left when the jury verdict was reached, subjecting it to a nearly $5 million liability after set-offs were subtracted. After its motion for a new trial was denied, John Crane appealed arguing the trial erred in denying its post-trial motion because the  court: (1) allowed Plaintiff’s medical expert, Dr. Abraham, to testify that the cumulative dose of Plaintiff’s exposure to all products caused his injury; (2) provided inaccurate jury instructions regarding proximate cause and the state of the art defense in asbestos cases; (3) failed to include four settled defendants on the jury form; and (4) did not properly analyze certain settlement agreements prior to making good faith findings. The appellate court ultimately affirmed the judgment of the circuit court. Below is a brief analysis on each of the issues on appeal.

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The Illinois Supreme Court recently reversed and remanded the appellate court’s ruling in Jones v. Pneumo Abex LLC, Nos. 123895, 124002 cons. (Ill. 2019), holding the Fifth District failed to follow long-standing Illinois precedent rejecting identical civil conspiracy claims. The Supreme Court held the appellate court erred by distinguishing the present case, decided on summary judgment, from McClure v. Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp., 188 Ill. 2d 102 (1999), a case decided on a motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. The Court stated that, as under the current facts, “[i]f all relevant evidence is before the court and upon such evidence there would be nothing left to go to a jury so that the court would be required to enter a directed verdict, denying summary judgment to permit further proceedings to take place would serve no purpose.”

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On the heels of Johnson & Johnson’s latest defense verdict in a talc ovarian cancer case in St. Louis City in December 2019 – the fourth consecutive verdict in its favor – comes another study that supports Johnson & Johnson’s long held position. Published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the article entitled Association of Powder Use in the Genital Area With Risk of Ovarian Cancer found no statistically significant association between the use of powder in the genital area and incident ovarian cancer.

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New Jersey based pharmaceutical, medical and consumer goods giant Johnson & Johnson has found itself at the center of national litigation conversation over the last few years due to explosive verdicts rendered against it over allegations that its talcum powder causes ovarian cancer and asbestos-related respiratory illnesses. In 2016 and 2017, Johnson & Johnson saw four verdicts in St. Louis ovarian cancer cases alone, with verdicts rendered in favor of the female plaintiffs of approximately $55 million, $70 million, $72 million and $110 million. Perhaps most shocking, however, was a $4.69 billion verdict obtained by twenty-two (22) different women suffering from ovarian cancer. In addition to $550 million in compensatory damages, the jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $4.14 billion in punitive damages. Despite the trial itself exceeding six weeks, the St. Louis jurors reportedly reached their conclusion and verdict in less than one day. A Los Angeles jury ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay a California woman $417 million in damages in 2017, including $347 million in punitive damages.

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Recently, three asbestos cases, Lege, Chabaud, and Gaddy, have produced significant verdicts in Louisiana. Interestingly, Chabaud, a case of disputed asbestosis, produced the largest reported award for an asbestos personal injury claim in Louisiana history. Below is a brief summary of each of these matters.

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On November 26, 2019, in Eileen Riebel, et al. v. 3M Company, et al. (Case No. 2015-L-002124), Cook County Judge Clare E. McWilliams granted a premises defendant’s personal jurisdiction motion in an asbestos matter finding that a contractual relationship between an out-of-state premises defendant and a decedent’s Illinois-based employer, by itself, was not sufficient to establish specific personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state defendant and did not meet the requisite minimum contacts with the state.

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In Kardos v. Armstrong Pumps Inc. et al., 2019 PA Super 324, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently ruled that where a party is given the opportunity to cross-examine a witness who later becomes unavailable due to his death, such testimony meets the hearsay exception and is admissible evidence.

Decedent Nicholas Kardos was diagnosed with mesothelioma in January 2016. On March 10, 2016, Mr. Kardos filed a lawsuit against numerous manufacturers, suppliers, and users of asbestos products. In September 2016, Mr. Kardos executed an affidavit related to his work history and exposures to asbestos, after a site visit of a prior worksite. In October 2016, Mr. Kardos was deposed over three days, including cross-examination by defendants regarding his work history and exposures to asbestos containing products. Mr. Kardos passed away on November 3, 2016, before any party re-noticed the deposition.


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In a consolidated appeal, the Georgia Court of Appeals recently looked at the proximate cause standard for asbestos cases in Davis v. John Crane. 2019 WL 5558711 (Ga. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2019). In so doing, the appellate court declined to extend the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision in Air and Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries to cases outside of a maritime tort context. While the Davis Court is not the first to analyze the DeVries decision, it is one of the first to hold that the case is exclusively limited to maritime torts.

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Recently, a Missouri Court of Appeals vacated a trial court’s award of $110 million in an ovarian cancer talc case, Slemp v. Johnson & Johnson, ED 106190 (Mo. Ct. App. Oct. 15, 2019). This is the third talc verdict handed down by a St. Louis jury overturned on appeal based on lack of personal jurisdiction in light of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, 137 S. Ct. 1773, 198 L. Ed. 2d 395 (2017) (“BMS”).

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In August of 2019, following a seven-week bench trial, Judge Thad Balkman of Oklahoma’s Cleveland County District Court found biotech and healthcare company Johnson & Johnson responsible for sparking the state’s opioid epidemic through use of “disingenuous marketing schemes” used to drive the sale of its prescription painkillers. This ruling, which ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay the state of Oklahoma $572 million dollars in damages, resulted in the first ever successful lawsuit brought by the state against a defendant drug manufacturer stemming from a sole cause of action: public nuisance.

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