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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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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Mesothelioma victim’s family wins asbestos award

A federal jury in Arizona has awarded a total of $17 million to the surviving spouse and children of a worker who died of mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos.

In December 2012, George Coulbourn filed a product liability action in Mohave County Superior Court. He alleged he was exposed to companies’ asbestos-containing products and/or machinery while working as a machinist for the Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, Virginia, from 1959 to 1966, court records show.

After Mr. Coulbourn died of mesothelioma in August 2013, his spouse and children amended his complaint and brought a wrongful death action, records show.

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Source: Mesothelioma victim’s family wins asbestos award – Business Insurance

 


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After 16 Years, Pittsburgh Corning Exits Asbestos-Related Bankruptcy

After more than 16 years under court protection, Pittsburgh Corning Corp., the joint venture between PPG Industries Inc. and Corning Inc., emerged from its asbestos-related bankruptcy Wednesday.

The Pittsburgh Corning plan channels claims against the company’s non-bankrupt parents to a $3.5 billion trust that was set up under the plan to absorb asbestos liabilities. The trust, one of the country’s largest, is being funded by PPG, Corning and their insurers.

Pittsburgh Corning, a maker of glass-based insulation materials used in construction and oil and gas pipelines, spent the first five years in bankruptcy on protecting and preserving its assets.

“When it became apparent that Pittsburgh Corning’s time in bankruptcy was going to be extended, our focus expanded to include strategic actions designed to reinvent our business,” said James R. Kane, the company’s chief executive.

Pittsburgh Corning is one of many large companies attempting to use bankruptcy to survive an onslaught of claims for asbestos damage. The bankruptcy code allows companies to set up trust funds to pay claims, insulating their future operating funds from potential liabilities.

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Source: After 16 Years, Pittsburgh Corning Exits Asbestos-Related Bankruptcy

 


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Justices Consider Any-Exposure Theory

As the Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard arguments Wednesday in Rost v. Ford Motor over use of the “any exposure” theory by an expert witness in an asbestos trial, the discussion dipped into the territory of “magic words” and hypothetical questions, but one question remained at the core of the conversation: Did Dr. Arthur Frank lay out a sufficient basis for his testimony that Richard Rost’s exposure to Ford Motor Co. products was a causative factor in his developing mesothelioma?

According to Robert L. Byer of Duane Morris, arguing on behalf of Ford, Frank responded to a hypothetical proposed to him by indicating that any exposure to asbestos can cause mesothelioma. In attempting to further explain his opinion, Byer said, Frank reverted to a theory of cumulative exposure that Byer said is indistinguishable from the any-exposure theory the Supreme Court has said cannot be introduced.

Steven Cooperstein of Brookman, Rosenberg, Brown & Sandler, arguing for Rost, contended that Frank at no time said “each and every breath” is substantially causative. Frank testified that “‘any exposure that can be documented would … play a role and be causative,'” according to Rost’s brief, but Cooperstein said that isn’t the same as opining that any exposure is causative.

“The subtlety of your distinction is lost on me,” Justice Max Baer said.

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Source: Justices Consider Any-Exposure Theory, Asbestos Consolidation

 


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