Category Archives: Asbestos

California Court Extends Duty to Warn in “Take Home” Asbestos Case

Earlier this year, the California First Appellate District Court of Appeals widened the net of potential plaintiffs beyond spouses in “take home” asbestos cases. The plaintiff,  diagnosed with mesothelioma,  sued multiple defendants including companies where he had occupational exposure to asbestos, as well as a company at which his uncle worked. In naming this latter defendant, the plaintiff claimed that he was exposed to asbestos through his uncle’s work clothes. Typical take home asbestos exposure cases usually involve a spouse (most often a wife) that…

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Continued Trend of Consolidation of Asbestos Cases Makes Defense More Difficult

We have seen a continued trend by the Supreme Court in the New York First Department to consolidate asbestos cases. This has proven to be disadvantageous for asbestos defendants, primarily because it significantly increases the risk of one defendant’s case being hampered by the evidence against another defendant – even though the respective fact patterns may differ substantially. Indeed, it is not uncommon for eight, nine, or even ten cases to be consolidated. The jury in those situations will not only hear about one plaintiff’s…

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Garlock’s Proposed Amended Plan Sets Aside $275 Million for Resolution of Current and Future Asbestos Claims

Garlock Sealing Technologies’ (GST) plan was filed in the US Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina. This plan incorporates Judge George Hodges, of the US Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of North Carolina, ruling that $125 million was an adequate set-aside for GST’S asbestos claims. Asbestos plaintiffs had been seeking a set-aside of $1.3 billion. GST’s plan is for a total of $275 million. $245 million would be placed into a settlement fund. This fund would settle…

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Asbestos Defendants Face New Risk as Court Permits Punitive Damages in NYCAL Trials

On April 8, 2014, Justice Sherry Klein Heitler issued a decision permitting asbestos plaintiffs in New York County to seek punitive damages in asbestos trials — a departure from decades of prior practice in New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL). For almost 20 years, the NYCAL Case Management Order (CMO) deferred indefinitely any trial of punitive damages in asbestos cases, until this past year when plaintiffs’ attorneys moved to modify the CMO to remove that deferral. The decision this week profoundly impacts industries embroiled in…

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Wisconsin Senate and Assembly Pass Asbestos Trust Disclosure Bill

Last week, Wisconsin came one step closer to joining Ohio and Oklahoma in passing asbestos trust disclosure legislation. On March 12, 2014, the Wisconsin Senate passed the bill by a narrow 17-16 vote. On March 20, the State’s Assembly voted 55-38 in favor of the bill, which now goes before Governor Scott Walker for consideration. Wisconsin’s AB 19 would require plaintiffs in asbestos lawsuits to provide a statement identifying all claims made against asbestos trusts, as well as all trust claims materials including claims forms…

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Rhode Island Court Allows Discovery of Bankruptcy Trust Filings

In Sweredoski v. Alfa Laval Inc. (No. 2011-1544, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation), a Rhode Island Superior Court reversed its prior holding and found that plaintiff’s bankruptcy trust filings were discoverable, albeit for a limited purpose.  In November 2013, Judge Alice B. Gibney denied defendant Crane Co.’s motion to compel the filings but ordered an in camera review of the filings to determine whether they may lead to discoverable evidence. Crane moved for reconsideration. Upon reconsideration, plaintiff argued that the bankruptcy filings were not discoverable…

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New Jersey Asbestos Judge to Change

Asbestos personal injury litigation in New Jersey has been centralized in Middlesex County for many years, and since September 2012, all such cases have been assigned to Judge Vincent LeBlon.  After presiding over the asbestos docket for nearly 18 months, a change is coming in New Jersey, with Judge Ana Viscomi slated to take over for and replace Judge LeBlon overseeing all asbestos cases pending in Middlesex County.  Judge Viscomi previously served during the 1990s as the Special Master for asbestos litigation in Middlesex County,…

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New Hope for Asbestos Defendants in Preventing Fraud

For years, asbestos defendants have suspected plaintiffs have been withholding evidence about similar asbestos claims they filed against other companies, thereby maximizing settlements or verdicts against each individual company. Specifically, defense attorneys have worried that by disingenuously claiming they only have viable claims against a single company, plaintiffs were able to maximize their recovery from that company. In In Re Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC, 2014 Bankr. LEXIS 156 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Jan. 10, 2014), a North Carolina bankruptcy case, the Court recently allowed perennial asbestos defendant,…

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Jury Apportions 80 Percent of Liability to Smoking History

In Kinser v. Anchor Packing Co. (No. 94-2282, C.D. Ill.), the plaintiff sued a number of companies in U.S. District Court alleging that their conduct caused him to be exposed to asbestos, resulting in his diagnosis of lung cancer.  The plaintiff alleged that he worked in the vicinity of insulation applied to turbines that were supplied and erected by Westinghouse Electric Corp. at the Commonwealth Edison nuclear power plant in Zion, Illinois. Westinghouse was the only remaining defendant at the time of trial and brought…

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Judge Sets Garlock’s Future Liabilities at $125 Million; Garlock Sues Plaintiffs’ Firms for Fraud

Garlock Sealing Technologies has been awaiting a U.S. Bankruptcy Court’s determination as to how much money will they will need to place in trust for future asbestos claimants since its bankruptcy trial concluded in August 2013. As previously reported by Risky Business, Garlock filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010, seeking the formation of an asbestos trust to assume all future liability related to its manufacture of asbestos-containing gaskets. Garlock proposed putting $125 million into that trust; a number of asbestos plaintiffs’ firms,…

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