Category Archives: Asbestos

Two More Courts Reject “Every Exposure” Theory

Earlier this week two courts held that plaintiffs could not use the “Every Exposure” theory to establish causation.  In both Sweredoski v. Alfa Laval Inc. (No. 2011-1544, R.I. Super., Providence Plantation; 2013) and Anderson v. Ford Motor Co. (No. 06-741, D. Utah 2013), plaintiffs sought to introduce expert evidence that each and every exposure to asbestos, no matter how minute, is a substantial contributing factor in plaintiff contracting an asbestos-related disease.  In both cases the Court found this expert testimony must be precluded because it…

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Supreme Court Refuses to Offer Pfizer Bankruptcy Protection for Claims Against a Subsidiary

Last week was packed with historic Supreme Court rulings; but for companies embroiled in asbestos litigation (and those wishing to avoid becoming embroiled) Pfizer Inc. v. Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos may have been the most important. Since 1999, the Baltimore-based Law Offices of Peter G. Angelos has been filing asbestos lawsuits on behalf of their clients against Pfizer, alleging that Pfizer was liable as an “apparent manufacturer” of asbestos-containing insulation products manufactured by Quigley Co.  Pfizer purchased Quigley in 1968 and for…

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Asbestos Trust Transparency Law Passes through House Judiciary Committee

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee recently approved the “Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act of 2013” (H.R. 982).  According to the Committee’s press release, the legislation amends the Bankruptcy Code to require asbestos trusts to file quarterly reports that detail claimants’ names, the amount paid to each claimant and the basis for such payment.  The goal is to allow the over 60 asbestos trusts with over $40 billion in total assets to compare claims and prevent plaintiff’s from making fraudulent and inconsistent filings.…

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Supreme Court to Decide Whether Parent Company Potentially “Exposed” to Asbestos Liability for Bankrupt Subsidiary

Pfizer, Inc. petitioned the Supreme Court to reverse a Second Circuit decision that the ban on asbestos litigation of a subsidiary company does not apply to a claims against a parent company.  In an amicus brief, the U.S. Solicitor General argued that the Second Circuit decision should be upheld.  The plaintiff’s theory against Pfizer is that it authorized the use of its name and trademark to be used on its subsidiary’s products that allegedly contained asbestos.  The plaintiff argues that this conduct gives rise to…

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NY Judge: Affidavit Testimony Not Enough To Prove Company Did Not Manufacture Asbestos Containing Products

In two separate actions, Justice Sherry Klein Heitler recently denied summary judgment to defendants that offered affidavits that they did not manufacture the products which plaintiffs had identified as a source of their asbestos exposure. In Meyer v. A.O. Smith Water Products Co. (No. 190094/2012, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.), defendant, Columbia Boiler Company, moved for summary judgment on the grounds that it did not manufacture scotch marine boilers in the 1980s or 1990s, when plaintiff alleged he had worked on them.  In support…

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Court Denies Railroad Employer’s Summary Judgment Motion Based on FELA’s Relaxed Standards

In Ruff v. A.O. Smith Water Products (No. 190516/11, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.), a New York Supreme Court held that a plaintiff need not quantify his exposure if expert testimony establishes the employer’s knowledge of the dangers of asbestos and causation.  The plaintiff, John Ruff, filed suit against numerous defendants alleging that his daily exposure to asbestos throughout his work history at a railroad yard was the cause of his lung cancer diagnosis.  The defendant, a successor-in-interest of Ruff’s former employer, moved for summary…

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New York Asbestos Plaintiffs’ Firms Move to End Deferment of Punitive Damages

On March 5, 2013, twelve plaintiffs’ firms served a joint motion in New York County Supreme Court seeking to end the automatic deferral of punitive damages in asbestos cases.  Since 1996, when the deferment of punitive damages claims was first included in the standing case management order in the New York County Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL), no jury in that venue has heard a punitive damages claim and no punitive damages have been awarded.  The joint motion argues that the landscape in NYCAL has dramatically changed…

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New York Jury Awards $35 Million Asbestos Verdict, Finds Recklessness

In Peraica v. Crane Co., (No. 190339/11, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.), a New York County jury awarded $35 million in pain and suffering damages to the estate of a decedent that died of mesothelioma in December 2012.  Plaintiffs alleged that John Peraica contracted the disease as a result of his work as an insulator from 1978 to 2004.  Although numerous defendants were a party to the lawsuit (nearly 40 appeared on the verdict sheet), only Crane Co. remained at trial.  As they often…

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Philadelphia Court Readopts Protocols that Lead to 70% Reduction in Mass-Tort Filings

Earlier this month, the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania, Common Court of Philadelphia issued an order reaffirming certain transitional working rules with respect to mass tort filings.  The transitional working rules, or protocols, were initially adopted on February 15, 2012 to address concerns that the mass tort inventory was experiencing explosive growth.  The order noted that in the last six years the pending inventory rose from 2,542 cases to 5,302 cases, and that the 2011 year-end inventory of 6,174 cases burdened court resources and required…

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Asbestos MDL Judge Grants Motion Precluding Plaintiffs’ Comprehensive Witness Lists

A federal magistrate judge for the Asbestos MDL in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently held that plaintiffs in 192 separate actions are precluded from relying on witness lists, unless the witnesses therein had been disclosed elsewhere. The Cascino Vaughan Law Offices (CVLO) represents 192 asbestos plaintiffs in the MDL and on each of their behalves served two lists. The lists provided, in the form of a chart, 1) the “names and addresses of all ‘site-workers’ at certain broadly described job sites where we are…

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