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

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

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 Daubert-Less Expert Opinions

The Iowa Court of Appeals recently affirmed summary judgment for both a premises owner and an installer of asbestos products pursuant to Iowa Code 686B.7(5) (2017), which provides that a defendant in an asbestos action “shall not be liable for exposures from a product or component part made or sold by a third party.”  Beverage v. Alcoa, Inc., No. 19-1852, slip op. (Iowa Ct. App. March 17, 2021).  The Plaintiffs brought suit on behalf of Mr. Beverage, who worked as an independent contractor at an Alcoa aluminum plant around asbestos-containing insulation installed by IITI.  Alcoa and IITI, the only two defendants, filed motions for summary judgment claiming that Section 686B.7(5) provided them with immunity from Plaintiffs’ lawsuit.  The district court granted both Alcoa and IITI’s motions for summary judgment.  On appeal, Plaintiffs argued that the district court erred in granting immunity to Alcoa and IITI by incorrectly interpreting Section 686B.7(5).
Continue Reading Iowa Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Asbestos Litigation

Illinois Governor Pritzker signed into law Senate Bill 72 (SB 72), which includes prejudgment interest and amends the Illinois Interest on Judgment Act 735 ILCS 2-1303 (Act). The amendment imposes six-percent prejudgment interest on economic and noneconomic damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Prior to SB 72’s passing, Illinois generally only recognized post-judgment interest at nine-percent per annum, running from when the judgment was made to the time it was satisfied. Personal injury plaintiffs generally could not recover losses incurred before judgment, but will be able to following SB 72’s effective date on July 1, 2021.
Continue Reading Illinois Governor Signs Law Imposing Six-Percent Prejudgment Interest

The Dallas Court of Appeals sitting en banc recently denied review of a panel decision that reversed an $8.8 million dollar asbestos verdict and rendered a take-nothing judgment in favor of an employer in Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. v. Dickson. The Court found missing any evidence that the employer knew in the 1960s that the millboards at issue contained asbestos. Because there was no evidence the employer had actual, subjective knowledge of any asbestos exposure risk, the employer could not be held liable under Texas law.
Continue Reading Texas Appellate Court Divided On Reversal Of Jury Verdict In Favor Of Mesothelioma Plaintiffs

The Fourth Circuit recently held that a premises owner in an asbestos case was not liable to a pipefitter based on insufficient evidence of exposure and the independent contractor exception to landowner liability.

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment Based on North Carolina Independent Contractor Exception