WASHINGTON, D.C. — A bare-metal manufacturer that knew or had reason to know that its product would create a hazardous condition when used with third-party asbestos-containing products can be held liable under maritime law for failing to warn about the danger, a majority of the U.S. Supreme Court held March 19 (Air and Liquid Systems Corp, et al. v. Roberta G. DeVries, et al., No. 17-1104, U.S. Sup.).
TACOMA, Wash. — A son’s claim that his father purchased asbestos-containing products in the early 1980s from a defendant’s successor can reasonably be read as coming before Washington enacted limits on retailer liability in July 1981, a federal judge in the state held March 13 (Eric Klopman-Baerselman, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 18-5536, W.D. Wash., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 40730).
ALAMEDA, Calif. — A plaintiff attorney’s own father collected Johnson & Johnson baby powder samples that produced positive tests for asbestos, a fact that was never disclosed in an “outrageous abuse of discovery” with an impact on the national litigation that “cannot be overstated,” the company argues in a March 11 motion for mistrial. But in a March 13 response, the plaintiffs tell the court that the company knew of the man’s identity for months before making its motion. The jury on March 13 awarded $29,491,000 in the case (Teresa Leavitt, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, No. RG1788401, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.).
ALAMEDA, Calif. — A California jury on March 13 hit Johnson & Johnson with a $29,491,000 verdict and 98 percent of the liability in a case alleging that its consumer talc products contained asbestos (Teresa Leavitt, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, No. RG1788401, Calif. Super., Alameda Co.). VIDEO FROM THE TRIAL IS AVAILABLE
GREENSBORO, N.C. — A woman never demonstrates that two premises owners controlled subcontractors’ work, let alone that the work exposed her decedent to asbestos, a federal judge in North Carolina held March 11 in granting summary judgment (Dorothy E. Smith, et al. v. 3M Co., et al., No. 16-379, M.D. N.C., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38410).
NEW YORK — Testimony that a company did not manufacture asbestos-containing siding during the times in question is a credibility issue that does not warrant summary judgment, a New York justice held March 1 (George Maridakis, et al. v. Amchem Products Inc., et al., No. 190225/2015, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
SAN FRANCISCO — Evidence regarding the U.S. Navy’s precise control over asbestos-related warnings and its knowledge regarding the dangers warranted removal of the case, a federal judge in California held March 11 (Debbie L. Viale, et al. v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 19-38, N.D. Calif., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 38828).
NEW ORLEANS — Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals precedent requires the conclusion that a shipyard’s alleged lack of safety measures does not provide grounds for removing an asbestos negligence action, but that precedent should face en banc scrutiny, a panel of the court said March 11 (James A. Latiolais v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., et al., No. 18-30652, 5th Cir., 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 7109).
WASHINGTON, D.C. — While the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform is holding hearings on March 12 on federal oversight of consumer products, outgoing Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Scott Gottlieb said federal agencies are not equipped to ensure that consumer products are free of asbestos and other hazards and must improve.
AUSTIN, Texas — An employer cannot rely on its failure to test for the presence of asbestos as proof that it could not have known that an employee would experience exposures sufficient to cause mesothelioma, plaintiffs told the Texas Supreme Court on March 7. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce warned the court on the same day that allowing the suit threatened to undermine the state’s workers’ compensation system (The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. v. Vicki Lynn Rogers, et al., No. 18-0056, Texas Sup.).
NEW YORK — Merely pointing to gaps in the evidence does not warrant summary judgment in a case where the plaintiff adequately identified two tile makers’ asbestos-containing products and described the environment around their use, a New York justice held in an opinion posted March 7 (Michael N. Marzigliano, et al. v. Amchem Products Inc., et al., No. 190134/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co., 2019 N.Y. Misc. LEXIS 859).
HOUSTON — An expert’s causation opinion confuses association and causation and appears to be based on his own untested methodology, and after excluding it, a plaintiff lacks sufficient evidence linking asbestos to his colon cancer even under the lowered standard applied in Federal Employers Liability Act (FELA) cases, a federal judge in Texas held March 5 (John Collins v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 17-3572, S.D. Texas, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 34712).
HELENA, Mont. — Montana’s top court on Feb. 19 agreed to consider whether a workers’ compensation insurer can be held liable for failing to warn W.R. Grace Co. employees about the dangers of asbestos. Two insurers seeking to escape similar liability on March 5 asked the court for permission to file amicus curiae briefs, saying that any ruling would likely impact them (Maryland Casualty Co. v. The Asbestos Claims Court, et al., No. OP 19-0051, Mont. Sup.).
LONDON — A court on Feb. 11 found an employer liable, which counsel for the plaintiff described as the first take-home asbestos exposure liability ruling in the United Kingdom (John Carey v. Vauxhall Motors Limited, No. WC2A 2LL, England High, QBD).
TRENTON, N.J. — Four New Jersey asbestos suits alleging that automobile mechanics suffered asbestos exposure belong in the United Kingdom, where the exposures allegedly took place, unless that country’s courts refuse jurisdiction, a New Jersey appellate court held March 5 (Raymond Rebbeck, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. A-4989-16T1, David Harvey, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. A-4990-16T1, Roger Williams, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. A-4991-16T1 Leslie James Gardner v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. A-3204-17T1, N.J. Super., App. Div., 2019 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 489).
NEW YORK — Merely pointing to gaps in the evidence does not warrant summary judgment in a case where the plaintiff adequately identified a company’s asbestos-containing products and described the environment around their use, a New York justice held in an opinion posted March 1 (Michael N. Marzigliano, et al. v. Amchem Products Inc., et al., No. 190134/2017, N.Y. Sup., New York Co.).
PHILADELPHIA — Questions regarding the applicability of the bare-metal defense and a man’s exposure overcome summary judgment, and the Pennsylvania federal judge presiding over the case said Feb. 14 that he would not address a successor-in-interest argument the defendant appears to have sat on in an attempt to spring a surprise on the plaintiffs (Obediah Walker III, et al. v. Viad Corp., No. MDL 875, 16-215, E.D. Pa., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 24614).
BALTIMORE — The early stage of the litigation and the death of the injured individual warrants granting a motion to dismiss an asbestos action without prejudice, even if the move is simply an effort to refile in state court with a nondiverse defendant, a federal judge in Maryland held March 1 (David Gichner, et al. v. ArvinMeritor Inc, et al., No. 18-1071, D. Md.).
BOSTON — The state Legislature provided an unequivocal six-year statute of repose applicable to asbestos claims, and the Legislature must address any resulting unfairness, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court held March 1 in answering a certified question (June Stearns, et al. v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Co., et al., No. SJC-12544, Mass. Sup. Jud.).
BOULDER, Colo. — An expert’s handful of hours researching asbestos with little to no information about the plaintiff’s work or exposures renders the testimony unreliable, a federal judge in Colorado held in excluding it and granting a railroad summary judgment on Feb. 21 (Roddy York v. BNSF Railway Co., No. 17-1088, D. Colo., 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 27644).