BOSTON — A federal judge in Massachusetts on June 5 said she “strongly questions” whether an asbestos-talc case against Johnson & Johnson more than remotely relates to its talc-supplier’s bankruptcy and concluded that equity issues, including a quicker timeline to trial and the existence of state law claims, require granting an emergency motion to remand the two-year-old action (Lorraine O’Riorden v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 19-751, D. Mass., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 93865).
NEW YORK — Nothing in a talc supplier’s bankruptcy warrants keeping 27 asbestos-talc cases against Johnson & Johnson in federal court, a judge in New York said in remanding the actions June 4 (In re: Various removed state court actions against, inter alia, Johnson & Johnson (State Court Talc Actions), No. 19-3530, S.D. N.Y., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 95445).
WILMINGTON, Del. — A Delaware federal bankruptcy judge on June 3 appointed Chapter 11 asbestos debtor Imerys Talc America Inc.’s proposed candidate for future claimants’ representative (FCR) over the objections of insurers and the U.S. trustee after finding in a May 31 letter opinion that insurers knew the risks involved with hiring the FCR’s law firm to represent them in a state court asbestos coverage action (In re: Imerys Talc America, Inc., et al., No. 1:19-bk-10289, D. Del. Bkcy.).
AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Supreme Court on May 31 declined to weigh in on the proper standard for holding an employer grossly negligent for asbestos exposures and whether an appellate court properly reduced punitive damages in the case (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 18-0056, Texas Sup.).
NEW YORK — New York County jurors awarded $300 million in punitive damages in an asbestos-talc case against Johnson & Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. on May 31, the first such award in the court since at least 1994, sources told Mealey Publications (Donna Olson v. Brenntag North America Inc., et al., No. 190328/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
CHICAGO — An Illinois federal bankruptcy judge confirmed the Chapter 11 liquidation plan and its asbestos trust for boiler company Oakfabco Inc. on April 11, less than a year after the judge halted payments to attorneys working on the case due to a lack of progress (In re: Oakfabco, Inc., No. 15-27062, N.D. Ill. Bkcy.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — After the proposed candidate for future claimants’ representative (FCR) in the Chapter 11 asbestos case of Imerys Talc America Inc. twice provided additional information to a Delaware federal bankruptcy judge on his lack of conflicts of interest, the bankruptcy judge on May 23 filed a letter seeking more information for her private inspection (In re: Imerys Talc America, Inc., et al., No. 1:19-bk-10289, D. Del. Bkcy.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — Negligence claims leveled by asbestos plaintiffs in Montana against insurers of former Chapter 11 debtor W.R. Grace & Co. are barred by W.R. Grace’s bankruptcy injunction because they meet the derivative liability requirements for injunctive protection, the insurers say in a May 20 reply brief on remand in Delaware federal bankruptcy court (Continental Casualty Co., et al. v. Jeremy B. Carr, et al., No. 15-50766, D. Del. Bkcy.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — With a $67 million settlement in place, a North Carolina federal court on May 13 dismissed an appeal over whether Chapter 11 asbestos debtors Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc. and Hanson Permanente Cement Inc. are protected by the automatic stay from environmental cleanup cost state court settlement judgments in Oregon (Kaiser Gypsum Company, Inc., et al. v. Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, No. 3:18-cv-507, W.D. N.C.).
COLUMBIA, S.C. — A South Carolina jury returned a verdict for Johnson & Johnson on May 21, rejecting allegations that a woman’s personal and theatrical use of talcum powder caused her to develop mesothelioma, sources told Mealey Publications (Beth-Anee Johnson v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 2018CP4001781, S.C. Comm. Pls., Richland Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE.
LOS ANGELES — Equitable factors weigh heavily in favor of litigating asbestos-talc cases in state court, a federal judge in California held May 21 in remanding 42 actions against Johnson & Johnson (In re: Removed state court talc actions against Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 19-3130, C.D. Calif.).
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Georgia-Pacific, an affiliate of Chapter 11 debtor Bestwall LLC, got the go-ahead from a North Carolina federal bankruptcy judge April 5 to intervene in an adversary case filed by the debtor seeking to enjoin all asbestos actions against the company (Bestwall LLC v. Those Parties Listed on Appendix A to Complaint, et al., No. 17-03105, W.D. N.C. Bkcy.).
PHILADELPHIA — A bankruptcy court’s denial of certification for a class of property owners seeking damages for asbestos supplied by former Chapter 11 debtor W.R. Grace & Co. was an interlocutory ruling, so a hospital’s appeal of the decision should be dismissed, the former debtor argues May 13 to the Third Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (In re Grace & Co., et al., No. 18-1960, 3rd Cir.).
VAN NUYS, Calif. — A California judge on April 30 entered a $1,311,429.54 judgment on a slightly more than $3 million verdict to a couple in a mesothelioma action (Ervan Groves, et al. v. ABB Inc., et al., No. BC696443, Calif. Super., Los Angeles Co.).
HELENA, Mont. — The court should reject a plaintiff’s “distorted” and backward-working attempt at creating liability on behalf of a workers’ compensation insurer for asbestos exposures and instead adopt sound analytical framework from the Restatement of Torts, an insurer tells the Montana Supreme Court in a May 3 reply brief (Maryland Casualty Co. v. The Asbestos Claims Court, et al., No. OP 19-0051, Mont. Sup.).
TACOMA, Wash. — Asbestos claimants of Chapter 11 debtor Fraser’s Boiler Service Inc. on May 14 sought relief from the automatic stay in Washington federal bankruptcy court so they can continue their lawsuits seeking damages only from the company’s insurers (In re: Fraser’s Boiler Service, Inc., No. 18-41245, W.D. Wash. Bkcy.).
WILMINGTON, Del. — With changes made to asbestos trust procedures to guard against fraud, the plan of reorganization for Chapter 11 debtor Maremont Corp. can now be approved by a Delaware federal bankruptcy court, the debtor says in the May 14 revised procedures and proposed findings (In re: Maremont Corporation, et al., No. 19-10118, D. Del. Bkcy.).
NEW YORK — A federal judge on May 9 declined an emergency motion seeking to bring state court asbestos-talc actions against Johnson & Johnson into federal court, potentially providing some guidance to a judge who on May 6 cited the Imerys Talc America Inc. bankruptcy case at the heart of the motion as the basis for staying more than two dozen asbestos-talc actions while allowing “placeholder” remand motions (In re: Various removed state court action against, inter alia, Johnson & Johnson (State Court Talc Actions), No. 19-3530, S.D. N.Y.).
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Johnson & Johnson said in a May 1 reply brief that a federal judge should follow in the footsteps of a Southern District of New York colleague and stay an asbestos-talc case, but on May 9, a judge in a separate case on which the company relied in its motion denied its emergency motion seeking to use a supplier’s bankruptcy to haul state court talc cases against it into federal court (John Castro, et al. v. Colgate-Palmolive Co., et al., No. 19-279, W.D. N.Y.).
NEW ORLEANS — Sufficient evidence supports a jury’s negligence finding against two employers and the original $1 million awarded to an octogenarian for future medical expenses, a Louisiana appeals court said May 8 (Jerry Craft v. Ports America Gulfport Inc., et al., No. 2018-CA-0814, La. App., 4th Cir.).