Legislative & Judicial Updates

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 statute of limitations on asbestos claims was recently reevaluated by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In Palmer v. Walker Jamal Company, the court reinforces that the clock begins when the plaintiff learns they have an asbestos-related disease, rather than when they identify a specific product as a potential cause.
Continue Reading Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims: MN Supreme Court Reinforces

In June, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed a 2018 Appellate Division ruling holding that manufacturers and distributors can be held strictly liable for damages caused by third party replacement parts containing asbestos.

Whelan v. Armstrong International, Inc.

Arthur Whelan was a career tradesman, spending over 40 years working as a commercial plumber and auto-mechanic.

Personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation was asserted by The Minnesota Court of Appeals in a recent asbestos case. The court found that the company’s former asbestos-tile factory in the state provided sufficient minimum contacts for specific personal jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Personal Jurisdiction Over Foreign Corporation Asserted By Minnesota Court of Appeals

A pending amendment to Rule 30(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure obligates parties to “meet and confer” regarding subject matters for examination. Adopted and submitted to Congress by the U.S. Supreme Court in April, this good faith conferral serves to clarify matters for examination and facilitates collaborative efforts. If Congress does not reject, modify, or defer the amendment by December 1, it will become effective immediately.

Continue Reading Pending Amendment to Rule 30(b)(6) Includes Meet and Confer Obligation

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

Mallet, legal code and scales of justice. Law concept, studio shotsIn 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.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Affidavits of Deceased Plaintiff Admitted Under Residual Exception to Hearsay

Remote court proceedings will continue in Cook County due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In July, Judge James Flannery of the Law Division of the Cook County Circuit Court signed General Administrative Order 20-6, providing guidance on the re-opening of Cook County courts and the extension of remote court proceedings. To safeguard the health of jurors, court employees and the public, all Law Division operations will resume via remote access.
Continue Reading Remote Court Proceedings Will Continue in Cook County

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

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts and litigants are reinventing civil litigation – holding hearings on Zoom or Skype, using emails and conference calls to communicate status, and taking remote depositions. That said, “virtual discovery” is not new. Since 1993, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure expressly authorized taking depositions by remote electronic means. States including Ohio, Massachusetts and Texas have followed suit. See, e.g., Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6); Mass. R. Civ. P. 29; Tex. R. Civ. P. 199.1

Continue Reading Pitfalls of Remote Depositions