On September 1, 2021, the South Carolina Court of Appeals affirmed the circuit court’s decision in the matter of Jolly v. General Electric, et al. in which it had (1) denied defendants’ motion for a JNOV, (2) granted a new trial nisi additur, and (3) denied motions to quash subpoenas requiring defendants’ corporate representatives to appear and testify at trial.  The appeal was brought by two defendants, Fisher Controls International, LLC and Crosby Valve, LLC (hereinafter “Defendants”) who had received an adverse verdict following trial in July 2017. Most notably, the circuit court had granted the Plaintiffs’ motion for a new trial nisi additur and increased the total jury verdict from $300,000 to $1.87 million. This article examines several holdings in the Jolly opinion which present future implications for asbestos litigation in South Carolina, particularly with regard to the causation standard, the sophisticated intermediary doctrine, additur, and the setoff of verdicts.

Continue Reading South Carolina Court of Appeals Approves Cumulative Dose Theory, Increased Verdict For Plaintiffs

On September 27, 2021, after 18 days of trial and a mere hour of deliberations, a City of St. Louis, Missouri jury rendered a defense verdict in favor of Johnson & Johnson (“J&J”) on claims of three women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Forrest v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. 1522-CC00419-02 (Mo. Cir. Ct., St. Louis Cty.). Notably, in 2018, a City of St. Louis jury returned a staggering $4.7 billion verdict in favor of 22 woman who claimed that J&J’s asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused their ovarian cancer.  Continue Reading Jury Returns Defense Verdict in Third Post-Pandemic Ovarian Cancer Talc Trial

In July of 2021, after more than five months of silence, President Biden finally announced his nominations to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (“CPSC”), which included Alexander Hoehn-Saric, as Commissioner and Chair, Richard Trumka Jr., as Commissioner, and Mary T. Boyle, as Commissioner. Continue Reading U.S. Senate Committee Approves Biden’s CPSC Nominations

On June 1, 2021, the United States Supreme Court declined to hear Johnson & Johnson’s (J&J) appeal to overturn a $2.12 billion dollar damages award to 22 female plaintiffs who alleged their ovarian cancer was caused by J&J’s talcum powder products. This is a significant setback for defendants in defending consolidated multi-plaintiff mass tort trials and a juries ability to award large punitive damage awards. Continue Reading United States Supreme Court Declines to Hear Talcum Powder Appeal

Utah’s Supreme Court recently issued an opinion which dramatically expands premise owners’ liability for asbestos-related injuries. On August 5, 2021, the Court reversed Utah’s Court of Appeals and held that a lawsuit could proceed against two premises owners on the theory that asbestos dust from their facilities was brought home on the clothing of a non-employee contractor, causing his spouse to develop mesothelioma. For the first time, premises owners or operators may be liable for injuries alleged by anyone living under the same roof as one of their former contractors.

Background

In Boynton v. Kennecott Utah Copper, et al., Larry Boynton alleged Continue Reading Utah Expands Premise-Owner Liability To Take-Home Asbestos Plaintiffs

On July 7, 2021, U.S. District Court Judge Eduardo C. Robreno, who oversees the asbestos multi district litigation (MDL 875) in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, applied a new standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Air & Liquid Sys. Corp. v. DeVries, 139 S. Ct. 986 (2019) in granting summary judgment for two turbine defendants accused of causing the decedent’s asbestos-related disease. Defendants General Electric (GE) and CBS Corporation (CBS) allegedly incorporated asbestos-containing components on their products to which the decedent was later exposed. Judge Robreno concluded that, even under the Supreme Court’s new maritime bare metal test, plaintiffs failed to show that the turbines supplied by defendants required the incorporation of asbestos insulation and that the defendants therefore had no duty to warn of any alleged hazards. Whether a defendant’s product “required” the incorporation of an asbestos-containing component is a threshold factor in determining if the defendant can be liable for causing or contributing to an asbestos-related disease under the Supreme Court’s new standard. Devries, et al., v. General Electric Co., et al., Case No. 5:13-cv-00474. Continue Reading Pennsylvania Court Applies Maritime Bare Metal Test in Favor of Defendants

On June 1, 2021, the United States Supreme Court announced it would not accept Johnson & Johnson’s petition for certiorari seeking to overturn a $2.12 billion dollar damages award rendered in Missouri to twenty-two Missouri women who alleged their ovarian cancer was caused from microscopic asbestos fibers in the company’s baby powder and other talc products. Continue Reading A Focus on Missouri’s Tort Victim Fund

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) may provide immunity to product manufacturers and premises owners who face liability from their administration or use of antivirals, drugs, biologics, diagnostics, devices, or vaccines used to treat, diagnose, cure, prevent, or mitigate COVID-19. Continue Reading PREP Act Offers Immunity to Product Manufacturers and Premises Owners from COVID-19 Liability

Last year, we highlighted Iowa’s groundbreaking law to end over-naming of defendants in asbestos and silica litigation. Now, just a year later, three more states have followed suit: North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. All three states enacted their own versions of legislation aiming to reduce and prevent the over-naming of defendants in asbestos cases. While all three of the bills share similarities, North Dakota’s bill is the most expansive of the three. Continue Reading Three More States Seek to End Over-Naming of Defendants in Asbestos and Silica Litigation

A New Jersey appeals court recently overturned talc verdicts totaling $117 million in damages against Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (JJCI) and Imerys Talc America, Inc. (Imerys) after finding expert testimony was Daubert-less, thus improper and warranted new trials. Continue Reading New Jersey Talc Verdicts Overturned on Appeal for <i>Daubert</i>-Less Expert Opinions