On September 5, 2018, the Appellate Court for the Fourth District of Illinois introduced heightened standards for plaintiffs to establish duty and causation in asbestos litigation through its reversal of a McLean County trial court’s decision denying a defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. McKinney v. Hobart Bros. Co., 2018 IL App (4th) 170333, appeal denied, 116 N.E.3d 948 (Ill. 2019). In McKinney, the plaintiff sued Defendant Hobart Brothers Company (“Hobart”) alleging his eight-month workplace exposure to Hobart’s asbestos-containing welding rods in 1962 and 1963 caused his mesothelioma. The welding rods at issue allegedly contained asbestos fibers that were encapsulated. The plaintiff also alleged exposure to asbestos-containing automotive products that occurred during the course of his forty-year mechanic career. In reversing the trial judgment, the McKinney Court addressed three issues of expert testimony admissibility under Rule 213 and ultimately tightened the reins on exposure claims involving encapsulated asbestos fibers by requiring industry knowledge of harm for the manufacturer’s product at issue before imposing a duty and ushering in the “substantial factor” test for causation.
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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

Product Liability Monitor

October 11, 2017
New Developments
America’s Opioid Epidemic: Who Will Be Held Accountable?
By Ally Schwab

In recent years America has seen an increasing number of opioid-involved deaths and is currently experiencing what the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) describes as an “opioid epidemic.” This crisis has been devastating to many communities and individuals, and

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

Toxic Tort Monitor

September 2, 2016
New Developments
Toward a Defense of Mesothelioma Cases on Causation: Low Doses and Genetics
By Mark Zellmer

Today’s defendants in asbestos litigation often face plaintiffs’ claims that they have contracted mesothelioma from exposure to low or even doubtful doses of asbestos. If the mesothelioma looks to be spontaneous (idiopathic) or the result

Product Liability Monitor

July 8, 2016
New Developments
Federal Preemption of Pesticide Failure to Warn Claims
By Alan Hoffman

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, 544 U.S. 431 (2005), concerning preemption of state law failure to warn claims by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. §136 et

Toxic Tort Monitor

May 2, 2016
New Developments
Northern District of Illinois Decision on Take-Home Exposure Liability has Limited Application
By Lindsay McClure-Hartman

The Northern District of Illinois in Neumann v. Borg-Warner Morse Tec LLC, No. 15-C-10507, 2016 WL 930662 (N.D. Ill. March 10, 2016), recently granted a motion to dismiss on the basis that a product

As many trial attorneys will tell you, the most crucial phase in many trials is jury selection. While its significance is known, attorneys are often left with minimal information gathered through juror questionnaires or voir dire from which they are forced to analyze cause challenges and make strike decisions.  However, the growth of social media over the past decade has enabled lawyers to gather additional information about the interests, activities and proclivities of veniremen that allows counsel to make more informed decisions during the jury selection process.

Social Media Jury

According to Pew Research Center, 74% of online adults use social media sites. The numbers are consistent across gender, education and income levels.  A trial attorney, therefore, has the ability to discover information about three out of every four prospective jurors on the Internet.


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In its 1984 decision in Hansome, the Missouri Supreme Court required an “exclusive causal connection” between the employee’s exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation statute and the adverse action the employee challenged.  No more.  Today, the Missouri Supreme Court swept Hansome aside and concluded the employee need only show that his exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation statute was a “contributing factor” to the adverse action. 
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Recently in Asbestos Columns, published by Harris Martin, I authored an article on the causation of lung cancer asking how much does asbestos really contribute.  Courts that look at the issue of causation in asbestos cases are now less likely to allow testimony from plaintiff’s experts that any exposure above background will substantially contribute to cause an asbestos related disease and more likely to require a plaintiff to prove that the alleged exposure attributable to a defendant was sufficient to cause his disease.
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