Category Archives: Asbestos

Virginia’s Supreme Court Reverses $17 Million Verdict Against Ship Owner, Holds Punitive Damages as Unavailable

In Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Minton (No. 111775,Va. Sup.Ct.), the Virginia Supreme Court overturned a verdict of more than $17 million in favor of a shipyard worker on the grounds that the trial court improperly excluded evidence of the shipyard’s knowledge and conduct with respect to asbestos. Robert Minton worked for the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company (shipyard) from 1966 to 1977.  During that time, Minton spent about half of his time aboard ships supervising and coordinating repairs.  In 2009, he filed suit…

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Two Courts Make Abuse of Asbestos Bankruptcy Trust System More Difficult

Two recent decisions suggest that there may be a national trend towards less abuse of the bankruptcy trust system in asbestos litigation.  Because of the long latency period of asbestos-related disease, courts have routinely set up bankruptcy trusts as a mechanism to protect unknown future plaintiffs.  The system also allows otherwise thriving businesses to reorganize without having to defend against a parade of future asbestos lawsuits.  Essentially, a trust is created by a company going through bankruptcy which absorbs all asbestos-related liabilities.  Future plaintiffs are…

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Toxic Workplace – “Take Home” Exposure Claims Leave Employers Susceptible to Increased Liability

The majority of jurisdictions hold that an employer’s duty of care to maintain a safe work environment is limited to its employees.  However, some jurisdictions have recognized an exception to this rule in the context of “take-home” exposure to toxic substances.  Take-home exposure claims generally arise when a person living in close proximity to someone who works with toxic substances, such as asbestos, alleges that they suffered second-hand exposure through the employee.  These claims often assert that the employer failed to take action to limit…

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Despite McKinley Holding, New York Appellate Court Applies Joint and Several Loss Allocation in Asbestos Case

In September, Risky Business reported on McKinley Ins. Co. v. Corning, Inc. (No. 602454/02, N.Y. Co. Sup. Ct.), a New York Supreme Court case which held that defense and indemnity costs should be allocated among insurers of an asbestos defendant on a pro rata, rather than a joint and several, basis.  However, the McKinley court noted, the decision was made of the facts of the case. Now, only three months later, New York’s Appellate Division, First Department has upheld a trial court’s decision to impose…

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Asbestos Defendant’s Use of Work Practice Study Fails to Eliminate Questions of Fact

In Perrelli v. A.O. Smith Corp. (No. 10-6011988S, Conn. Super., Fairfield Dist.), the plaintiff filed suit against several defendants alleging exposure to asbestos as a result of his work on automobiles and doing home renovations from the 1960s to 1978. The plaintiff alleged that he contracted lung cancer as a result of this exposure. Defendant NMBFil, Inc. moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff failed to demonstrate that he inhaled and retained asbestos fibers from their “muffler and tailpipe bandage.” In support…

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New York County Court Sets Aside $19 Million Verdict

In Konstantin v. 630 Third Avenue Associates  a New York County Supreme Court Justice recently held that a jury’s $19 million award deviates materially from what would be reasonable compensation.  The Justice vacated the award and ordered a new trial on the issue of damages unless plaintiff agreed to reduce the awards to $4.5 million for past pain and suffering and $3.5 million for future pain and suffering. The plaintiff alleged exposure to asbestos while working as a carpenter from 1975 to 1977 and that,…

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Asbestos MDL Adopts Sophisticated User Doctrine, Holds Ships Are Not Products

On Wednesday, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled that Navy ships are not “products” within the meaning of products liability doctrine and that the sophisticated user doctrine does apply under maritime law.  In Mack v. General Electric Co. (No. 2:10-78940-ER, E.D. Pa.), the plaintiff filed suit against several defendants whom he alleged exposed him to asbestos.  Among these defendants, the plaintiff alleged that the manufacturers of the Navy ships, rather than merely the manufacturers of products onboard, were liable.  However, the court held that the ship…

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NY Court Rejects Joint and Several Allocation Amongst Insurers of Asbestos Defendant

In McKinley Ins. Co. v. Corning, Inc. (No. 602454/02, N.Y. Co. Sup. Ct.), the New York County Supreme Court recently held that defense and indemnity costs should be allocated among insurers of an asbestos defendant on a pro rata, rather than a joint and several, basis. Corning was covered by numerous primary, umbrella, and excess insurance policies from 1962 to 1985.  Several of the insurers moved for summary judgment, seeking a declaration of the proper method of allocation of responsibility for indemnity and defense amongst…

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