On May 17, 2019, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed legislation eliminating the state’s 25-year statute of repose under the Workers’ Compensation Act for latent diseases, overturning the prominent Supreme Court decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070 (2015), which established clear precedent that an employee’s exclusive remedy lies under either the Workers’ Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act. Under the old law, an employee did not have a civil tort cause of action against their employer. This new law now creates an exception to the traditional exclusive remedy provision that has been part of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system for over 80 years.
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Recently, the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado recognized a defendant’s potential liability based on take-home exposure. In Mestas v. Air & Liquid Systems Corporation et. al., No. 18-cv-01006, Plaintiff alleged direct exposure and take-home exposure. Plaintiff alleged that his father was exposed to asbestos-containing products while working as a plumber and pipefitter, and that his father then carried asbestos home on his clothing which in turn, exposed Plaintiff to asbestos. Defendants filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that they owed no duty to Plaintiff based on take-home exposure.
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Shortly after the inauguration of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, legislation was introduced in both the Illinois House and Senate to essentially override the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070 (2015). In Folta, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the Worker’s Compensation Act and Occupational Diseases Act was the exclusive remedy to Illinois employees who suffered latent injuries such as mesothelioma.
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In its decision Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court held, under maritime law, that manufacturers can be held liable for injuries caused by asbestos-containing parts manufactured and added to their products by third parties. The case, Air & Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries, involved Navy sailors who were allegedly exposed to asbestos that was used with certain equipment on the Navy vessels to which they were assigned. The sailors claimed this exposure ultimately caused their cancer. The sailors brought suit against the manufacturers of equipment such as pumps, blowers, and turbines, alleging that the manufacturers were negligent in failing to warn them about the dangers of asbestos.

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Toxic Tort Monitor

February 20, 2019 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editor: Natalie Holden
New Developments
Missouri’s Game-Changing Opinion on Venue in Multi-Plaintiff Tort Litigation
By Dominique Savinelli and Tim Larkin

On February 13, 2019, the Supreme Court of Missouri dealt a significant blow against improper forum shopping by plaintiffs in mass tort litigation. The Johnson &

On Monday, the Missouri Supreme Court issued an order sustaining Johnson & Johnson’s (“J&J”) last-minute Petition for writ of prohibition to stay the trial in Vickie Forrest et al. v. Johnson & Johnson et al., Cause No.1522-CC00419-01, pending in the in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri.  Although the Supreme Court sets forth no reasoning for the stay in its one paragraph en banc order, the trial, which was set to start on January 22, 2019, will not take place until the Court weighs in on J&J’s argument that conducting a single trial of multiple claims from multiple Plaintiffs – most of whom had potentially been improperly joined – is unfair to the defendants and even potentially in violation of J&J’s constitutional due process rights. State ex rel. Johnson & Johnson et al. v. The Honorable Rex M. Burlison, Cause No. SC97637. The Forrest case is one of an onslaught of talc cancer cases brought in the St. Louis City Circuit Court on behalf of multiple plaintiffs against J&J.  Forrest, and twelve other women, are alleging that their different subtypes of ovarian or gynecological cancers were caused by their use of J&J’s talcum powder products, which allegedly contained asbestos.
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On September 13, 2018, the Department of Justice (DOJ) filed its first ever Statement of Interest in the bankruptcy of an asbestos company, signaling that DOJ intends to prioritize fraud and mismanagement relating to asbestos trusts. The Statement, filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina in the Chapter 11 proceedings for Kaiser Gypsum Company, asserts that the proposed trust plans lack adequate safeguards and indicates that DOJ will object unless the final plan better ensures transparency and prevents fraud. Below are three major takeaways from DOJ’s action:

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