DURHAM, N.C. — Two co-workers’ inability to recall how a man could have been exposed to a defendant’s product is the extent of a man’s asbestos case and falls short of the regular, frequent, proximate standard for causation, a federal judge in North Carolina said Dec. 7 (Jonathan A. Queen, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 16-330, M.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 201299).
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — A judge properly ordered a boiler company to produce more than 5,000 index cards after the company voluntarily permitted inspection by an asbestos plaintiff, an Illinois appeals court held Dec. 5 (Larry Salvatore Sr., et al. v. Cleaver-Brooks, et al., No. 4-17-0173, Ill. App., 4th Dist.).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Requiring every asbestos lung cancer plaintiff who ever smoked tobacco to provide a medical expert opinion that the person doesn’t qualify as a “smoker” would produce absurd results, burden nonsmokers and is at odds with a decade of precedent and the law’s intent, a man told the Ohio Supreme Court Dec. 6 (Bobby Turner, et al. v. Union Carbide Corp., et al., No. 17-0004, Ohio Sup.).
PHILADELPHIA — The exclusion of two experts did little to change the state of a case as two other experts hold the same opinions regarding asbestos-contaminated talc’s role in causing mesothelioma, a woman told a Pennsylvania judge on Dec. 4 (Sally Brandt, et al. v. The Bon-Ton Stores Inc., et al., No. 151202987, Pa. Comm. Pls., Philadelphia Co.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A medical expert cannot simply conclude that occupational exposures included a defendant’s product, and absent that link, the claim fails, a Delaware judge held Nov. 8 (Tawnya Ardis v. ArvinMeritor Inc., et al., No. N13C-10-020 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
ADELAIDE, South Australia — An Australian appeals court on Oct. 30 dramatically increased an exemplary asbestos damages award, increasing the verdict to a record-setting $250,000, saying that while Australian courts are loath to award such damages, James Hardie’s “reprehensible” conduct renders the original award “manifestly inadequate” (Amaca Pty Ltd v. Latz, No.  SASCFC 145, S. Australia Sup.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A man presents sufficient evidence that he regularly used a company’s brakes during the time it used asbestos, but his claims against a raw asbestos fiber supplier fail, a Delaware judge held Nov. 8 in applying Rhode Island law (Raymond K. Leathers v. Borgwarner Morse Tec, et al., No. N15C-11-224 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
NEW YORK — Two boiler makers have failed to show that they could not have foreseen that their products would need to be demolished for removal from residences, thereby exposing the worker to asbestos, a New York justice held Nov. 1 (Mary Murphy-Clagett, et al. v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190311/2015, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4145, 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4152).
PHILADELPHIA — Three maritime plaintiffs whose cases were part of the federal asbestos multidistrict litigation judge’s order dismissing 4,400 cases for lack of personal jurisdiction appealed that 2014 decision on Nov. 9 to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Louis Munnier, William D. Schroeder, Richard G. Williams v. Charles Kurz & Co. Inc.., No. 17-3471, 3rd Cir.).
BATON ROUGE, La. — A Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals panel is set to decide whether deposition testimony counts as “other paper” and triggers the time for removing an action or whether the clock starts only after defendants receive the transcript, after the court held oral arguments Nov. 8 in an asbestos case (Curtis D. Morgan v. Dow Chemical Co., et al., No. 17-30523, 5th Cir.).
NEW YORK — Claims by two defendants that they designed and manufactured products at the direction of the U.S. Navy are sufficient to remove an asbestos case, a federal judge in New York held Nov. 27 (Michael B. Donohue, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 17-7232, S.D. N.Y., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 195159).
NEW YORK — A power company’s contracts with its contractors requires indemnification only after the establishment of liability, a New York justice held in denying reargument in an asbestos case in an opinion posted Nov. 30 (In re New York City Asbestos Litigation Michael Koulermos and Marian Koulermos v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No. 190406/2014, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.; 2017 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 4530).
NEW YORK — A New York jury on Oct. 17 awarded $2 million to the estate of man exposed to asbestos in Jenkins Bros. Co. valves and held the company 4 percent liable for the man’s fatal mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications (Donald Snowdale v. A.O. Smith Water Products, et al., No.190202/15, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
NEW YORK — Coverage for underlying asbestos claims arising out of the construction of the original World Trade Center towers is triggered if the underlying claims allege that the exposure occurred during the construction of the towers even if the disease did not develop until years later, a New York County Supreme Court justice said Nov. 29, noting that the policy at issue provides coverage for any injury arising out of the construction project (American Home Assurance Co. v. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, et al., No. No. 651096/2012, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
HOUSTON — A Texas county’s post-argument submission is improper and fails to prove that it provided workers’ compensation benefits for a judge employed in its courthouse, a woman pursuing an asbestos action on behalf of the former judge told a Texas appeals court on Nov. 22 (Jefferson County, Texas v. Ellarene Farris, et al., No. 01-17-00493-CV, Texas App., 1st Dist.).
By Laura A. Frase
HELENA, Mont. — The Montana Supreme Court on Nov. 28 ordered the creation of an asbestos claims court to oversee pretrial proceedings in the state’s more than 540 asbestos cases (In re: Asbestos Litigation, No. AC 17-0694, Mont. Sup.).
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A distributor’s sale of a bowling ball product in North Carolina does not create jurisdiction absent evidence that the manufacturer specifically targeted the state, a North Carolina federal judge held Nov. 21 (Vickie Young, et al. v. American Talc Co., et al., No. 13-864, M.D. N.C., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 192356).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — The state’s statute of repose acts prospectively and does not cover exposures occurring before enactment, and its “improvement to real property” language cannot possibly be interpreted as covering the asbestos dust in a man’s lungs, a woman told Maryland’s top court on Nov. 21. Oral arguments are scheduled for Dec. 1 (June Diane Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., et al., No. 41 September Term, 2017, Md. App.).
BALTIMORE — Testimony that a man worked on “all of” the vessels at a shipyard cannot realistically mean he worked on every ship and, even when combined with evidence of two insulation contractors’ presence at the facility, is not enough to establish exposure to asbestos from their work, a Maryland appeals court held Nov. 20 (Kathryn A. Davenport, et al. v. MCIC Inc., et al., No. 1204 September Term, 2016, Md. Spec. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 1162).