All legal practitioners should be familiar with the concept of personal jurisdiction and its two subsets: general jurisdiction and specific jurisdiction; both of which are juxtaposed with the inalienable Due Process Clause which effectively and simultaneously restricts a given court’s authority to exercise personal jurisdiction over a defendant. It is no surprise that civil litigators are trained to instantly analyze and determine where a defendant corporation is headquartered and incorporated to ascertain whether a particular court maintains general jurisdiction. A substantial amount of time in contemplation is involved when analyzing the “sufficient minimum contacts” needed to advance specific jurisdiction arguments, or whether claims alleged “arise out of or even relate to” those minimum contacts in the first place.
Virtual civil jury trials will be scheduled statewide in New Jersey starting April 5, 2021, with consent to proceed remotely not required as part of the state’s two-phase approach to virtual jury trials for all dockets and tracks during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2019, the Missouri legislature passed Senate Bill 224 (SB 224), effectively revising Missouri’s discovery rules to align them with the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. (See our 2019 post for analysis of SB 224’s changes to the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure.) The applicability of SB 224’s revisions remained unclear for some time, however, as the Missouri Supreme Court hesitated to adopt them into the Missouri Rules of Civil Procedure.
The Tennessee Supreme Court’s opinion in Carolyn Coffman et al v. Armstrong International, Inc., et al., at least implicitly, recognized a “bare metal defense” for the first time under Tennessee law. The Court addressed the issue of whether, under Tennessee law, equipment defendants “had a duty to warn of the dangers associated with the post-sale integration of asbestos-containing materials manufactured and sold by others.” The Court held that, under the Tennessee Products Liability Act (TPLA), Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-101 through 108, the equipment defendants did not have a duty to warn end users about the post-sale incorporation of asbestos containing products manufactured by third parties. Continue Reading Tennessee Supreme Court Implicitly Adopts the “Bare Metal Defense”
The Illinois Supreme Court recently held that an increased risk of future harm is not an injury; tossing a class action suit which sought damages related to the City of Chicago’s replacement of water meters and water main pipes. The named Plaintiffs had filed the case on behalf of all Chicago residents who had water mains or meters replaced or installed between January 2008 and January 2017. The suit alleged negligence and inverse condemnation against the City of Chicago.
In a fact-intensive decision issued on October 22, 2020, the Illinois Supreme Court determined in Sergiu Tabirta v. James J. Cummings, et al. that the mere presence of an employee’s home office in Cook County was insufficient, by itself, to establish proper venue over his employer in the jurisdiction. Merely having an employee with a home office in the venue was insufficient under the circumstances to constitute “doing business” or maintaining an “other office” there to satisfy the requirements of Illinois’ venue statute. Continue Reading Illinois Venue Statute Not Triggered by Presence of Employee’s Home Office
On January 13, 2021, the Illinois General Assembly passed House Bill 3360 (Bill) which, if signed by Governor Pritzker, would impose a 9 percent per annum prejudgment interest rate in wrongful death and personal injury tort actions. Illinois law does not currently recognize prejudgment interest in such tort actions, only allowing a post-judgment interest rate of 9 percent per annum running from the date of the judgment’s entry through the date of satisfaction. 735 ILCS 5/2-1303(a). While 5 percent prejudgment interest is permitted in certain cases where liability is clear and damages are readily ascertainable, such interest has never been permitted in personal injury cases, as damages are too difficult to calculate in advance. Continue Reading Illinois Bill Imposing Prejudgment Interest Awaits Governor Pritzker’s Action
On August 24, 2020 in Ann Finch v. Covil Corp., 972 F.3d 507 (4th Cir. 2020), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a North Carolina federal district court’s decision, sustaining a $32.7 million verdict in favor of the plaintiff in an asbestos-related wrongful death lawsuit against insulation contractor Covil Corporation. On appeal, Covil argued that the district court erred in instructing the jury as to proximate cause and refused to reduce the damages award, however the three-judge panel found no fault with the district court’s jury instructions or its rationale for refusing to reduce the jury verdict.
On May 17, 2019, Illinois adopted legislation eliminating the state’s 25-year statute of repose under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act for latent diseases. The legislation overturned the prominent Supreme Court decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering which established clear precedent that an employee’s exclusive remedy lies under either the Illinois Workers’ Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act. Recently, in Patton v. A.W. Chesterton, defendant McNulty Brothers Company (McNulty) attempted to challenge the constitutionality of the 2019 legislation when it moved to dismiss Mr. Patton’s lawsuit arguing his case was barred by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Mr. Patton allegedly worked as a carpenter at McNulty from 1969 through 1973. Mr. Patton alleged that he regularly worked with asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and around asbestos-containing joint compound while he was employed by McNulty. Mr. Patton was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September of 2019, four months after the amendment of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Mr. Patton subsequently filed his complaint in the Third Judicial Circuit of Madison County, Illinois on October 15, 2019. Continue Reading Latent Injury Exception to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Legislation Challenged
The first two remote asbestos jury trials showcase the unique challenges of trying cases remotely. Many Americans have become accustomed to working from home and the technology that comes with it. Most courts though are still hesitant to proceed with remote asbestos jury trials, which is likely for the best. If, however, remote asbestos jury trials become more prevalent, then courts and litigants must learn from the challenges presented in these early cases.