Toxic Tort Monitor

 

May 15, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Order of Operations: Maryland’s Highest Court Analysis of the Statute of Repose and Discovery Rule’s Applicability to Asbestos Cases
By Soham Desai

On March 28, 2018, the Court of Appeals of Maryland, Maryland’s highest court, was asked to: (1) determine whether the state’s statute of repose was ambiguous as to when an injury and cause of action “arise” within the scope of the statute and, (2) discuss the applicability of the discovery rule in relation to the manifestation of a latent disease. The Court found that, in a case involving a steamfitter’s alleged asbestos exposure, the plaintiff’s claims were not barred as the date of his last exposure to asbestos containing products determined whether the statute of repose applied. [Continue Reading]

Pennsylvania Court Finds That an Employer’s Take-Home Duty Can Extend to Girlfriends of Former Employees
By Sarah Rashid

A Pennsylvania District Court recently denied a defendant’s motion for summary judgment of the issue of duty, finding that that an employer’s take home duty may in certain situations extend to the girlfriend of a former employee. Plaintiff Brenda Schwartz and her husband, Paul Schwartz (“Plaintiffs”), brought a negligence action against Defendant Accuratus Corporation (“Defendant”), alleging that Mrs. Schwartz had contracted chronic beryllium disease (“CBD”) from exposure to beryllium brought home on Mr. Schwartz’s clothes while he was an employee of Defendant. Mrs. Schwartz also claims exposure to beryllium from Mr. Schwartz’s roommate, Gregory Altemose, who was also an employee of Defendant. [Continue Reading]

District Court in Washington Reverses Course on Personal Jurisdiction?
By Jackson Otto

In recent years federal courts have clarified and narrowed the scope of personal jurisdiction as it applies to nonresident defendants, particularly in mass tort and toxic exposure cases. However, a recent decision coming out of Washington appears to buck this trend. In Donald Varney and Maria Varney v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation, et al., the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington had an opportunity to decide motions brought by Defendants Taco, Inc. and Aurora Pump Company to dismiss for failure to state a claim, for lack of standing, to strike Plaintiffs’ request for pre-judgment interest, and most notably for lack of personal jurisdiction. The Court denied each of the Defendants’ motions. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
April 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

Toxic Tort Monitor

 

April 16, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Cook County Circuit Court Denies Personal Jurisdiction Motion in Asbestos Case
By Anne McLeod

The Circuit court in Cook County, Illinois has recently clarified one of the limitations on which it applies personal jurisdiction and venue protections to Defendants in asbestos cases. In John C. Clark v. A.W. Chesterton Company, et al., the Court performed personal jurisdictional analyses of general and specific jurisdiction, and also analyzed Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for forum non conveniens. While the Defendant in this case won the argument on general jurisdiction, it lost the arguments on specific jurisdiction and forum non conveniens. The court reasoned that Plaintiff’s “take-home” exposure to asbestos brought both the Defendant’s actions and the alleged resulting injury into Illinois. [Continue Reading]

“Sue-me State” or “Show-me State”: The Latest Push for Asbestos Exposure Tort Reform in Missouri
By Ketajh Brown
 and Jen Dlugosz

The stage is set for a heated showdown between GOP leaders and bipartisan critics over implementation of HB 1645. If adopted by the Senate, the bill would alter several provisions related to a plaintiff’s ability to bring asbestos tort claims. The main contention sparked by HB 1645 requires plaintiff-side attorneys to identify and file claims against all potentially liable defendants or bankruptcy trusts at the onset of lawsuits alleging injury from asbestos exposure. The idea behind this segment of the bill is twofold: (1) to embed built-in transparency preconditions allowing asbestos claim resolution with minimal delay; and (2) thwart the practice of “double-dipping” by granting injured plaintiffs compensation from one defendant at a time—before pursuing claims against additional defendants. [Continue Reading]

Another Take on “Take-Home” Exposure in California: Foglia v. Moore Dry Dock Co.
By Theresa Mullineaux

A California appellate court recently upheld the trial court’s granting of summary judgment in a secondary exposure asbestos case where Plaintiffs could offer no admissible evidence that decedent’s father worked around asbestos-containing materials. The trial court excluded plaintiff’s testimony regarding his father’s work because he acknowledged he had no personal knowledge and also sustained defendant’s objections to an affidavit of decedent’s aunt who likewise had no personal knowledge of decedent’s father’s work. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
March 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

Toxic Tort Monitor

 

March 14, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Precluding a Second Bite at the Apple; Federal District Court Grants Summary Judgment on Basis of Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel
By Tierra Jones

In the interest of justice and courtroom efficiency, res judicata aims to prevent parties from re-litigating previously legally resolved issues and claims involving the same or similar parties. Two doctrines – claim preclusion and issue preclusion – are encompassed in res judicata. Issue preclusion, also known as the doctrine of collateral estoppel, is the narrower doctrine of the two. [Continue Reading]

Personal Jurisdiction and LLCs – Does Citizenship Matter?
By Jen Dlugosz

When deciding whether to remove a case when an LLC is a party it is necessary to look at the citizenship of the LLC’s members to determine whether there is diversity for subject matter jurisdiction. However, citizenship of LLC members is not a key component of personal jurisdiction. The tests for subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction, while sometimes muddled, are in fact distinct. Simply put, just because an LLC is a citizen in the jurisdiction, does not equate to personal jurisdiction over the LLC in that jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

Eastern District of Missouri Denies Plaintiff’s Motion to Reconsider Personal Jurisdiction Ruling
By Natalie Holden

The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently denied an asbestos plaintiff’s motion for reconsideration of the court’s previous grant of defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. [Continue Reading]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
February 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

Toxic Tort Monitor

February 12, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Which Came First: Subject Matter or Personal Jurisdiction?
By Mary Kate Mullen

Two recent Eastern District of Missouri cases examined the same issue, yet the court reached opposite results. In Lewis v. Johnson & Johnson and Jinright v. Johnson & Johnson, the court considered whether subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction should be decided first. [Continue Reading]

Fifth Circuit Sets Bright Line Rule for Timing Requirement Under Federal Officer Removal Statute
By Tierra Jones

In January 2018, a three-judge panel on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit vacated a district court’s remand of an asbestos case to state court for being untimely, based on a federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C § 1442 (“Statute”). The Court of Appeals found that the Statute allows for removal of a case within 30 days after the date a defendant received the transcript of an oral deposition providing a basis for removal, as opposed to the date on which the relevant deposition testimony was taken. [Continue Reading]

An Analysis of the Pennsylvania Fair Share Act and its Application to Asbestos Litigation, in Light of the Recent Ruling in Roverano v. John Crane, Inc.
By Theresa Mullineaux

In December, the Pennsylvania Superior Court ruled that the Fair Share Act applies to asbestos litigation, meaning that defendants are only responsible for the percent they are found liable. Prior to the enactment of the Fair Share Act, a defendant found liable could be on the hook for the entire verdict. [Continue Reading]

Upcoming Events
DRI – Toxic Torts and Environmental Law
March 1-2, 2018
Nashville, TN

Several of our toxic tort litigators are attending this DRI seminar; we hope to see you there!

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
January 2018

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

Toxic Tort Monitor

January 17, 2018
New Developments
A Review of 2017 Personal Jurisdiction Decisions
By Taylor Concannon

In 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court in cases such as BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California continued the trend that began in Goodyear and Daimler and reaffirmed its limits on personal jurisdiction for corporate defendants. [Continue Reading]

Summary of 2017 Talc Verdicts
By Natalie Holden

After several multi-million dollar verdicts in talc and ovarian cancer trials in 2016, 2017 proved to be a more interesting year, with some plaintiff verdicts and some defense verdicts. There are currently thousands of talc related claims pending across the United States. The defendants in this litigation maintain that the science does not support the claims that personal care powder products cause ovarian cancer. [Continue Reading]

Missouri Court of Appeals Reverses Defense Verdict Finding Trial Court’s Allowance of Four Defense Experts as Cumulative and an Abuse of Discretion
By Natalie Holden and Jen Dlugosz

In Shallow v. Follwell, the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District, Division Four, held that the trial court abused its discretion by permitting the “unfairly cumulative and prejudicial repetition of expert opinions from [defense] expert witnesses.” [Continue Reading]

Texas Court of Appeals Denies Rehearing in Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Rogers
By Joe Ellis, Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden

In Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company v. Rogers, the Dallas Court of Appeals issued an important decision regarding the calculation of exemplary damages awarded under the Texas statute governing the exemplary damages cap to calculate a judgment amount in the case of an employer defendant found grossly negligent where the deceased employee claimed exposure to asbestos. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Toxic Tort Litigation Practice

Companies face increasingly well‐coordinated attacks in jurisdictions across the country. These assaults are becoming more complex and costly as plaintiffs’ counsel pursue novel theories and claims to keep asbestos litigation thriving. Husch Blackwell’s team has experience in numerous jurisdictions throughout 37 states. Our attorneys can help you navigate the intricate web of plaintiffs’ firms, changing laws, evolving science and anti-defendant courts. [More information]

Toxic Tort Monitor Archive
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gavel courtOn October 17, 2017, the Court of Appeals for the Eastern District of Missouri reversed a $72 million judgment that was previously rendered against Johnson & Johnson, relying on a United States Supreme Court decision that was issued earlier this year. In June, the Supreme Court of the United States narrowed the scope of specific personal jurisdiction in Bristol Myers Squib Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, 137 S.Ct. 1773 (2017), holding that that each plaintiff in a multi-plaintiff case must establish personal jurisdiction over the defendant for his or her individual claim. Applying the Supreme Court’s decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the plaintiff’s verdict that was issued in February 2016 in Estate of Fox v. Johnson & Johnson, No. ED104580.  Continue Reading Missouri Appellate Court Reverses Verdict in Johnson & Johnson Talc Case

Product Liability Monitor

June 9, 2017
New Developments
Lung Cancer Without Asbestosis? The Effects of Smoking
By Mark Zellmer

In the medical and scientific literature, a finding of asbestosis is clear evidence that asbestos at least contributed to cause a person’s lung cancer. Many medical experts regard a finding of asbestosis as essential to any finding that asbestos caused any lung cancer. Other experts look for sufficient exposure to cause asbestosis, even if not evident from radiology or pathology. Still others take a position contrary to both views. [Continue Reading]

Defend Trade Secrets Act: Protecting Product Manufacturers and Sellers’ Confidential Information
By Dan Jaffe

Manufacturers and sellers of products can use the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”) to effectively protect their trade secrets. The DTSA was enacted on May 11, 2016, extending the Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (18 U.S.C. §§ 1831, et seq.). DTSA creates a federal civil cause of action for trade secret misappropriation whereby “[a]n owner of a trade secret that is misappropriated may bring a civil action . . . if the trade secret is related to a product or service used in or intended for use in, interstate or foreign commerce.” [Continue Reading]

Protective Orders in Product Cases
By Alan Hoffman

Discovery in product liability cases often involves inquiry into and disclosure of a firm’s confidential internal product information and documents not available to competitors or the public that it has a legitimate interest in protecting. Plaintiffs frequently serve broad brush stroke discovery in an effort to avoid in missing documents, information and witnesses that might prove relevant to prosecuting their claims. Defense counsel must act quickly and effectively to defend their clients’ valid interests, and seek to limit the scope of discovery as much as possible to avoid costly and burdensome discovery disruptive to their clients’ normal course of business. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
May 2017

 

Product Liability Monitor

April 10, 2017
New Developments
I Like It, But Do I Trust It? Drivers Weigh In on Autonomous Vehicle Technology
By Shannon Peters

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently released the results of a survey of American drivers which yielded an interesting conclusion:  Americans want autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies in their next vehicle, but they are not sold on fully self-driving cars.The AAA survey indicates that 75 percent of Americans would be afraid to ride in a self-driving vehicle, and more than half would feel less safe sharing the roads with a self-driving car. Not surprisingly, younger generations are slightly less afraid of this developing technology than their older counterparts. [Continue Reading]

Walking the Lone Pine Trail
By Alan Hoffman

Lone Pine orders take their name from Lore v. Lone Pine Corp. They are most often entered in toxic tort litigation, requiring plaintiffs to provide some prima facie evidence to support causation or other claims based on expert opinion. Typically, such orders call for expert affidavits or other evidence supporting a claimed connection between the plaintiff’s condition and defendants’ products. [Continue Reading]

Due Process Limits on Personal Jurisdiction
By Dan Jaffe

In recent years the United States Supreme Court has strengthened the due process protections for defendants against suits in states with which they have no meaningful contacts. In J. McIntyre Machinery, Ltd. v. NiCastro, the plaintiff sued the British manufacturer of a metal-shearing machine in New Jersey, where he was injured. The defendant neither marketed nor sold its products in that State. It sold its machines nationwide through an independent U.S. distributor, but defendant’s representatives were never present in New Jersey. In any event, no more than four of its machines ended up in New Jersey. The Court held that exercise of judicial power over a defendant is unlawful unless the defendant purposefully avails itself of the privilege of conducting activities within the forum State. [Continue Reading]

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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice

Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]

Product Liability Monitor Archive
March 2017

toxictortIn November 2015, the Madison County Circuit Court denied a motion by Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) to dismiss an asbestos case for lack of personal jurisdiction. The court found that Ford’s “substantial” business activities in the State of Illinois were such that it was at home in the state and subject to the court’s jurisdiction. Jeffs v. Anco Insulations, Inc. et al., No. 15-L-533 (Cir. Ct. Mad. Co. 2015). In February, the Fifth District Appellate Court issued an order denying Ford’s petition for leave to appeal the Circuit Court’s decision pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 306. A few months later, the Illinois Supreme Court granted Ford’s motion for a supervisory order with the Illinois Supreme Court under Rule 383, and ordered the Fifth District to hear the appeal. On December 14, the Fifth District heard oral arguments in the appeal of the Madison County Circuit Court’s decision in Jeffs v. Ford Motor Co., Case No. 5-15-0529. The panel during oral argument included Justice Richard Goldenhersh, Justice James Moore, and Justice Thomas Welch.

Continue Reading Fifth District Hears Oral Argument on Ford Motor Company’s Appeal of Personal Jurisdiction Ruling

Product Liability Monitor

October 7, 2016
New Developments
The Duty to Warn in New York
By Dan Jaffe

New York’s highest court recently held in two asbestos cases (Dummit v. A. W. Chesterton and Suttner v. A. W. Chesterton) that a manufacturer of valves had a duty to warn of the hazards arising from the use of its valves with asbestos-bearing gaskets and packing materials which it neither manufactured nor distributed. Both cases involved valves manufactured by Crane Company. Crane’s valves did not contain asbestos or other hazardous materials, but they could not practically function in a high-pressure, high-heat environment without asbestos-containing gaskets, insulation and packing. [Continue Reading]

Federal Guidelines for Autonomous Vehicles
By Mark Pratzel

On September 20, 2016, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) issued the Federal Automated Vehicles Policy, first Federal policy on automated vehicles. Focused on “highly automated vehicles” (HAV), the guidelines show that the Federal government sees automated car technology as a safer alternative to cars driven by humans. “We envision in the future, you can take your hands off the wheel, and your commute becomes restful or productive instead of frustrating and exhausting,” said Jeffrey Zients, director of the National Economic Council, noting that automated vehicles “will save time, money and lives.” [Continue Reading]

What Is A Reasonable Alternative Design?
By Alan Hoffman

At the heart of the concept of defective product design embodied in the Restatement (Third) of Torts: Product Liability is the availability of a reasonable alternative design which could have reduced or avoided a risk of harm. However, a product may be defective, even if no reasonable alternative design exists, if it fails to provide reasonable instructions or warnings of a foreseeable risk of harm. A recent decision of the Massachusetts Appeals Court illustrates the application of these principles. [Continue Reading]

Editor of the Month
Mark Pratzel Mark Pratzeldefends clients in matters involving construction, toxic tort, product liability, premises liability and personal injury law. Representing clients in the manufacturing, technology and chemical industries, he concentrates his practice in cases alleging industrial explosions and exposure to asbestos. Mark also represents a variety of corporate clients in a broad range of litigation matters involving contracts, regulatory issues and product literature.
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Technology, Manufacturing & Transportation
Product Liability Practice
Manufacturers work hard to develop material goods and product designs that are high-quality, safe and durable. We understand your commitment to excellence and commit ourselves to defending you against product liability allegations. Husch Blackwell’s Product Liability team has insight into your industry-specific challenges. [More information]
Product Liability Monitor Archive
September 2016