Asbestos Case Beats Statute of Limitations

A federal judge has denied a pump manufacturer’s argument that an asbestos-related lung cancer case should be tossed because it wasn’t filed in time.

As asbestos litigation continues its steady decline and fewer lawsuits against companies for asbestos-related illnesses make it past the early stages of litigation, plaintiff Kathleen Conneen’s case on behalf of her deceased husband, Joseph Conneen, has cleared a significant hurdle.

U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania denied defendant Goulds Pumps Inc.’s motion for summary judgment based on Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations in asbestos cases, and under maritime law. Joseph Conneen worked in a shipyard.

The primary dispute centers on when Kathleen Conneen’s husband learned his exposure to asbestos could have been a factor in his diagnosis. According to Robreno’s opinion, Joseph Conneen, who filed suit in January 2015, was diagnosed with lung cancer in December of 2012.

Kathleen Conneen argued that her husband did not learn that asbestos exposure was a possible factor until February 2013, while Goulds countered that since Conneen’s husband worked around asbestos for 28 years and never smoked, he should have been more diligent in trying to identify the cause of his cancer.

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Source: Asbestos Case Beats Statute of Limitations

 


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Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability in Asbestos Take Home Exposure Case

The Arizona Supreme Court has agreed to consider whether employers can be held liable to somebody who contracted cancer from asbestos brought home on a parent’s work clothes.

The case stems from the 2014 death of Dr. Ernest Quiroz, whose 2013 negligence lawsuit contends he was exposed to asbestos on his father’s work clothes.

The facts as outlined in the appeal indicate he lived with his father from 1952 to 1966, during the time his father worked at Reynolds Metal Co. Dr. Quiroz lived in California until 1976 and in Michigan until his death in 2014. The suit alleges Dr. Quiroz contracted mesothelioma as a result of the exposure to his father’s work clothes.

The suit argues that Reynolds Metal Co. was legally obligated to avoid creating hazardous conditions that would injure people off its property.

Reynolds won a pretrial ruling by a trial judge, and the Court of Appeals upheld it.

The Court of Appeals said potential drawbacks of recognizing what’s called a duty of care in so-called “take-home exposure” cases outweigh potential benefits, partly by opening the door to liability claims involving an array of hazardous materials.

Source: Arizona High Court to Rule on Liability in Asbestos Take Home Exposure Case

 


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Justices OK Expert Opinion on Asbestos, Seeing No Breach of ‘Any Exposure’ Ban

Experts testifying in asbestos trials need not compare the exposure of one defendant’s products to a plaintiff’s overall exposure, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled Nov. 22.

The majority reasoned that noncomparative testimony did not violate the ban against using “any exposure” causation theories.

The ruling affirmed the Superior Court’s decision, which upheld a $994,800 jury award out of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

Justice Christine L. Donohue, who wrote the majority opinion in Rost v. Ford Motor, said plaintiff Richard Rost’s expert properly testified that Rost’s exposure to the defendant’s asbestos-containing products was substantial and alone could have caused Rost to develop mesothelioma. Having the expert quantify and distinguish exposure to the defendant’s products and compare that to every other exposure Rost had would create a nearly impossible hurdle for plaintiffs that doesn’t exist in other tort cases, Donohue said.

“Multiple asbestos-containing products may be substantial factors causative of a plaintiff’s mesothelioma. It is for the finder of fact, and not the courts, to make these determinations regarding substantial causation,” Donohue said. “The dissenting justices’ concern about whether the jury could understand whether the bucket of water was placed in a bathtub or an ocean misses the mark entirely, since Dr. [Arthur] Frank testified that Rost’s exposures at Smith Motors [where Ford’s asbestos-containing products were used], without more, were sufficient to cause his cancer.”

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SourceJustices OK Expert Opinion on Asbestos, Seeing No Breach of ‘Any Exposure’ Ban


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Boeing Can Take Asbestos Case to Federal Court Under Contractor Defense

The Boeing Co. is entitled to the military contractor defense from liability in a suit claiming it failed to warn of the dangers of asbestos, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit ruled on Tuesday.

The appeals panel reversed the decision of a U.S. district court judge in New Jersey who granted the plaintiff’s motion to send the case back to state court after Boeing removed it to federal court under the federal officer removal statute. Boeing is entitled to remove the case to federal court because it made the requisite showing that it engaged in the allegedly culpable behavior at the direction of a federal officer or agency, Third Circuit Judges Kent Jordan, Thomas Vanaskie and Cheryl Ann Krause ruled in Papp v. Fore-Kast Sales.

U.S. District Judge Peter Sheridan of the District of New Jersey granted the plaintiff’s motion to send the case back to state court upon finding that, as a contractor, it had a “special burden” to demonstrate that it was acting under federal government control. Sheridan said Boeing could only show it was acting under a federal officer by showing that was directly instructed by federal authority to keep mum about the dangers of asbestos.

Source: Boeing Can Take Asbestos Case to Federal Court Under Contractor Defense


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Is Asbestos Trial Consolidation Ending in Philadelphia

Defense attorneys have long said the practice of consolidating asbestos trials in Philadelphia gives the plaintiffs’ bar an unfair advantage, but some are now looking to a recent state Supreme Court decision as an indication that the consolidation of asbestos trials might be on its way out.

The practice of consolidating trials began more than 25 years ago in an effort to get control of a spiraling backlog of asbestos cases. Consolidation was credited with quickly wiping out the backlog and became the standard for how asbestos cases would be tried in Philadelphia.

Nearly five years ago, however, the court eliminated mandatory consolidation and placed a limit on the number of cases that could be consolidated into a single trial. Since then, the number of asbestos cases being tried to verdict has been decreasing, which attorneys attributed to growing success with mediation. Of the cases that go to trial, thought, many are still consolidated.

However, according to defense attorneys, the Supreme Court’s recent decision in Rost v. Ford Motor might help the defense bar in its efforts to challenge consolidation.

Source: Is Asbestos Trial Consolidation Ending in Philadelphia


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COA finds electrician can sue former employers for mesothelioma diagnosis

The Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday that an electrician can sue his former employers for negligence and liability after he was exposed to asbestos.

Larry Myers worked as an electrician for Koontz-Wagner Electric from 1961 to 1980, serving as an independent contract for companies such as Bremen Casting and Mastic Home Exteriors Inc. During his time as an electrician, Myers was not trained or hired to handle asbestos, so he did not wear protective gear, which resulted in his 2014 diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma as a result of asbestos exposure.

Myers subsequently filed a complaint against Bremen, Mastic and nearly 40 other companies, alleging that the defendants negligently hired Myers and were vicariously liable for his diagnosis as principals, and further liable as premises owners. The defendants knew or should have known about the dangers of asbestos, Myers claimed, and should have warned him of those dangers.

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Source: COA finds electrician can sue former employers for mesothelioma diagnosis

 


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Court rejects $8M verdict in asbestos case

Pointing to problems with expert witnesses, an appeals court Wednesday rejected an $8 million verdict in a case filed by a man who said he suffered mesothelioma because of exposure to asbestos in cigarette filters and in other products.

A panel of the 4th District Court of Appeal ordered a new trial for R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. and a “directed” verdict in favor of Crane Co., a manufacturing company.

It ruled against Richard DeLisle, who won the verdict in the Broward County case.

DeLisle alleged that he was exposed to asbestos in filters of Kent cigarettes he smoked in the 1950s.

R.J. Reynolds is a successor company to the manufacturer of Kent cigarettes.

He also alleged exposure in the 1960s in a workplace through sheet gaskets used by Crane Co., a valve and pump manufacturer, the ruling said.

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Source: Court rejects $8M verdict in asbestos case


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Federal Law Preempts State Claims in Asbestos Case

The estate of a New Jersey woman who died of mesothelioma—possibly caused by physical contact with her father, who worked for a rapid transit system, and his asbestos-covered clothes—cannot sue the transportation system in state court, an appeals panel has ruled.

Any state tort claims the estate may have against the key defendants—the Delaware River Port Authority (DRPA) and its subsidiary, the Port Authority Transit Corp.—are pre-empted by federal laws governing locomotives, the three-judge Appellate Division panel said in a published ruling Nov. 19.

The same federal law that governs locomotives also pre-empts claims against the manufacturers and distributors of the locomotives’ brakes, which the woman’s father worked on while employed by PATCO, the court said.

“Since 1926, it has been settled that in enacting the Locomotive Inspection Act … Congress intended to occupy the entire field of locomotive equipment,” wrote Appellate Division Judge Carmen Alvarez in Brust v. ACF Industries.

“Congress thereby pre-empted both state legislation that would affect the design, construction, and material of every part of the locomotive and its appurtenances … and state law tort claims for defective design of locomotive equipment.”

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Source: Federal Law Preempts State Claims in Asbestos Case


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Judge Dismisses Union Carbide in Miami Mesothelioma Case

Asbestos mass tort litigation may have been around for more than four decades, but a Miami federal judge found room for novel decisions.

U.S. District Judge Beth Bloom corrected herself twice on jurisdiction in a case filed against Union Carbide Corp. The orders dealt in part with a 2014 U.S. Supreme Court decision still in the infancy of its interpretation across the country.

The case before Bloom was filed last year by James Waite, who claimed he developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos in Massachusetts starting in the 1940s. Waite has lived in Florida with his wife Sandra, a co-plaintiff, since the late 1970s and was diagnosed with mesothelioma last year. He does not allege any Union Carbide asbestos exposure in Florida.

Waite’s attorneys said he was exposed to asbestos as a landlord while renovating rental apartments using drywall joint compound that contained Union Carbide asbestos and during brake and clutch repairs.

Source: Judge Dismisses Union Carbide in Miami Mesothelioma Case | Daily Business Review

 


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‘Take Home’ Asbestos Death Nets $7M Verdict

BATON ROUGE (CN) – A Louisiana trial judge awarded $7 million to the surviving family members of a woman who died of cancer after years of laundering her husband’s asbestos-tainted clothes .

Myra Williams died from mesothelioma, a disease caused exclusively by exposure to asbestos after years of contact with the material at home through handling her husband’s work clothes. Myra’s husband, Jimmy Williams, worked around asbestos at his job for Placid Oil Co., court documents say.

As part of his job at Placid Oil, according to the documents, Jimmy Williams was required to crawl over equipment insulated with asbestos.

“This caused asbestos dust and fibers to accumulate on his clothing, which he wore home on a daily basis to be laundered by Myra Williams,” Judge Lala Sylvester’s ruling said.

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Source: ‘Take Home’ Asbestos Death Nets $7M Verdict

 


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