Legislative & Judicial Updates

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 Daubert-Less Expert Opinions

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

HB 3360, vetoed by Gov. Pritzker on March 25, would have imposed 9 percent prejudgment interest on personal injury and wrongful death claims in Illinois. This is the governor’s first bill rejection in two years and his ninth veto since taking office.

HB 3360’s pathway to Gov. Pritzker’s desk was unusual: it was passed quickly and quietly during the Illinois legislature’s January lame duck session, where lawmakers worked through the night to get the bill finalized. The governor was expected to sign the bill as soon as it passed, but, surprisingly, a wait ensued after it reached his desk, suggesting that the bill would require some work. See our prior analysis of HB 3360’s provisions.


Continue Reading Governor Pritzker Vetoes HB 3360, But A Revised Version Will Soon Return to His Desk

Specific causation in an asbestos matter was addressed in a recent decision by the First Department of the New York Supreme Court. Notably, the decision is the first time an appellate court in New York affirmed a jury verdict in a case where a plaintiff’s mesothelioma was caused by alleged asbestos-containing talcum powder. This decision should have limited, if any, implication on national toxic tort litigation because of the distinct facts relating to the case, however, an analysis of the case can provide valuable lessons for defendants preparing for trial.
Continue Reading Specific Causation Standard Further Addressed in New York

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.

Continue Reading Specific Jurisdiction and “In-Forum Business Conduct” Further Defined by Landmark SCOTUS Decision