Map of Illinois.On June 4, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion that further limits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants in Christy Rios et al., v. Bayer Corporation et al., and Nichole Hamby et al., v. Bayer Corporation et al., 2020 IL 125020. At issue was whether “Illinois may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant as to the claims of out-of-state plaintiffs for personal injuries suffered outside of Illinois from a device manufactured outside of Illinois.” Following rulings from the United States Supreme Court and those from other states, the court answered with a resounding: “no.”

Continue Reading Illinois Reins in Exercise of Personal Jurisdiction over Out-of-State Defendants for Nonresidents’ Claims

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.”

Continue Reading Illinois Supreme Court Cites Established Precedent in Rejecting Asbestos Civil Conspiracy Claims

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.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: A “Substantial Factor” in Bringing About Change? Illinois’ McKinney Appellate Decision Raises Plaintiff Burdens for Duty and Causation

The Illinois Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Jones v. Pneumo Abex LLC, Nos. 123895, 124002 cons. (Ill. 2019), where Plaintiffs, John and Deborah Jones, sued brake lining company Pneumo Abex (“Abex”) and glass bottle maker Owens-Illinois (“O-I”) for injuries John Jones allegedly suffered due to asbestos exposure during his construction career. Although Jones never worked for Defendants and never used or was exposed to any product of Defendants, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants entered into a civil conspiracy with the asbestos industry at large including Johns-Manville, an insulation and roofing materials manufacturer, to conceal the harmful health effects of asbestos exposure. In their complaint, Plaintiffs relied solely on circumstantial evidence to support their allegations of a conspiratorial agreement, including. (1) an Abex funded study on asbestos dust with Saranac Laboratory (the “Saranac report”) where a mice study revealing tumors was omitted from the published report; (2) a 1953 Sales Agreement between O-I and Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp. (“OCF”) for the sale of Kaylo insulation; (3) “non-toxic” ads that were issued by O-I and later by OCF; (4) O-I’s sharing of two asbestos health articles from 1941, (5) a unilaterally sponsored O-I study of Kaylo insulation involving exposure to lab animals; and (6) overlapping directors and stock ownership of O-I in OCF.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Supreme Court Set to Rule on Asbestos Civil Conspiracy Claim

The First District recently held that the district court had personal jurisdiction over a Texas-based company because of that company’s national advertising scheme and small repeat customer base in Illinois. In Schaefer v. Synergy Flight Center, et al., No. 1-18-1779, Plaintiffs alleged that Defendant RAM Aircraft, L.P., negligently overhauled, repaired, and tested an aircraft’s left engine and other parts, and that the negligent repair caused the aircraft to crash in Illinois, killing its seven passengers. RAM was a Texas-based limited partnership that predominately made its income by overhauling aircraft engines. RAM performed its work in Texas and had no office or property in Illinois. RAM did, however, advertise in a nationally distributed magazine and Illinois customers historically accounted for 1-2.5% of its revenues.  The particular engine in question was overhauled by RAM in Texas, who shipped it to a company in Indiana, who then shipped it to an Illinois flight center for installation.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Asserts Personal Jurisdiction Based On National Advertising and Ongoing Relationship With Several In-State Customers

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.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Governor Signs Law Creating Exception to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity for Latent Injuries

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.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: New Illinois Leadership Drives Passage of Legislation to Eliminate Workers’ Compensation Exclusivity Remedy Defense to Illinois Employers

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 &