Proximate cause jury instruction was further clarified by a Washington appellate court when the court reversed the asbestos defense verdict in Clevenger v. John Crane, Inc. In the case, plaintiff Era Clevenger alleged that her deceased husband’s forty-year history of occupational exposure to asbestos (in the Navy, as a city water department mechanic, and as a pipefitter) resulted in his death. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Proximate Cause Jury Instruction Further Clarified by Washington Appellate Court
In July, a Delaware Superior Court judge ordered affidavits of a deceased plaintiff admitted under the residual exception to hearsay, finding that the affidavits were sufficiently trustworthy for purposes of admissibility under D.R.E. 807.
In May, the Illinois Supreme Court significantly revised its rules related to remote proceedings – including court appearances, video conferences, and civil trials. These changes aim to improve the administration of justice by increasing efficiency and decreasing costs, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. These changes became effective immediately. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Overhauls Rules Related to Remote Proceedings
In April, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana upheld the reduction of a large toxic tort verdict in James Gaddy, et al. v. Taylor-Seidenbach, Inc., et al., No. CV 19-12926. Plaintiff sought reconsideration of the remitted verdict which reduced the jury’s initial award of general damages from $7.5 million to $3 million. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Louisiana Upholds Reduction of a Large Toxic Tort Verdict
Iowa became the first state to enact a law addressing the over-naming of defendants in asbestos litigation this month. Signed June 1, the new law requires a plaintiff to file a sworn affidavit, in addition to the initial pleading, with specified evidence as a basis for his or her claim against each named defendant. Failure to provide this information against a defendant results in dismissal of that defendant. More details on the bill (SF2337) in our previous post. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Iowa Enacts Over-Naming Law
St. Louis City Judge Michael K. Mullen recently entered an important order interpreting Missouri’s 2019 legislation governing joinder and venue law. See Order, Johnson v. Bayer Corporation, et al., 1622-CC01049-01 (Mo. Cir. Ct. St. Louis Cty. May 5, 2020) (Johnson). Put simply, St. Louis City’s automatically-generated trial docket dates (the “rolling docket”) do not satisfy the eligibility requirement of a having a “trial date” on or before August 28, 2019 within the savings clause. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Venue Statute’s Savings Clause Clarified by St. Louis City Order
On March 10, 2020, in a 54 to 46 vote, the Iowa House of Representatives passed Senate File 2337 (SF2337) in an effort to reduce the over-naming of asbestos defendants in related lawsuits filed in Iowa. The legislation focuses on reducing, or eliminating, the over-naming of asbestos defendants by requiring plaintiffs to provide detailed evidence of exposure for each named defendant. While Iowa is not known as a hot-spot for asbestos-related lawsuits, Iowa has reportedly seen its fair share of alleged asbestos related deaths.¹ Iowa’s lack of asbestos filings likely comes as a result of the state’s significant tort reform efforts, with SF2337 being the latest addition.
On May 12, 2020, the Missouri legislature passed Senate Bill 591 (SB 591), which provides major changes related to how punitive damages are assessed in civil and medical malpractice actions and brings significant reform to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), Missouri’s consumer protection law. Missouri Governor Mike Parsons is expected to sign the bill shortly.
Litigators have closely followed a recent decision that has provided needed guidance and has reshaped how asbestos liabilities are apportioned in strict liability cases. On February 19, 2020, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued its long-awaited opinion in Roverano, et al., v. John Crane, Inc., et al., 6 EAP 2018 (Pa. Feb. 19, 2020), which held that in strict liability asbestos cases, damages are to be split per capita among remaining defendants, and that the Fair Share Act under 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102 does not require percentage apportionment of liability in strict liability cases. The decision further held that bankruptcy trusts may be included on the verdict sheet to bring more parties to the table for the purpose of apportioning liability only.
On January 21, 2020, the Fourth District Appellate Court reversed a $3.2 million asbestos jury verdict, holding Tremco, Incorporated (Tremco) was entitled to judgment notwithstanding the verdict where Plaintiff presented insufficient evidence of causation. Krumwiede v. Tremco, Inc., 2020 IL App (4th) 180434.