In the most recent round of the long-running litigation over hearing protection supplied by manufacturing giant 3M and used by U.S. Military personnel from 2002 until 2015, Plaintiffs have obtained large verdicts in 3 out of 4 bellwether cases against 3M.

Continue Reading Bellwether Military Earplug Verdicts Underscore Importance of Establishing the Government-Contractor Defense

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.
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

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

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

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.
Continue Reading Manufacturers Liable for Third Party Replacement Parts Says NJ Supreme Court

Many business operations affected heavily by environmental regulations are considered “essential” and are up and running to ensure our country has the products and services it needs to respond to the COVID-19 emergency.  We are hearing that these businesses are straining under the pressure to maintain social distancing requirements, quarantine individuals exposed to the virus, sustain operations with reduced personnel, protect their personnel, and preserve their supply chain resources.  Although all companies understand the need to protect human health and the environment, it may be impossible to meet every deadline, take every reading, and make every inspection during this emergency.

Recognizing this reality, many Federal and state agencies are issuing enforcement relief and response policies providing guidance on how to respond if environmental or other regulatory requirements can’t be met.  Husch Blackwell has gathered Federal and state COVID-19 enforcement relief and response policies for environmental and motor carrier safety regulations.  A complete list of these policies is posted as a resource on our website.


Continue Reading COVID-19 Enforcement Relief and Response Policies

Last year, a St. Louis city jury sent shock waves across the world, awarding 22 plaintiffs nearly $5 billion in compensatory and punitive damages in a lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson over claims its asbestos-contaminated talcum powder caused ovarian cancer in women who used the company’s product for years in the case of Ingham v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 1522-CC10417 (Mo. Cir. Ct. St. Louis City July 12, 2018). Prior to trial, Imerys Talc America Inc., a co-defendant supplier of talc to Johnson & Johnson, settled plaintiffs’ claims for at least $5 million.[1]

While previous ovarian cancer trials hinged on arguments that talc itself is carcinogenic, plaintiffs in Ingham argued their cancer was caused by asbestos particles mixed in with the talc. The impact of this verdict and similar previous decisions across the country has been damaging enough to prompt talc supplier Imerys Talc America Inc., to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, citing a lack of financial clout to defend lawsuits alleging that Imerys’ talc caused ovarian cancer or asbestos-related mesothelioma.[2]
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Looking Ahead: The Future of Ovarian Cancer Litigation

The Illinois Supreme Court recently heard oral arguments in Jones v. Pneumo Abex LLC, Nos. 123895, 124002 cons. (Ill. 2019), where Plaintiffs, John and Deborah Jones, sued brake lining company Pneumo Abex (“Abex”) and glass bottle maker Owens-Illinois (“O-I”) for injuries John Jones allegedly suffered due to asbestos exposure during his construction career. Although Jones never worked for Defendants and never used or was exposed to any product of Defendants, Plaintiffs allege that Defendants entered into a civil conspiracy with the asbestos industry at large including Johns-Manville, an insulation and roofing materials manufacturer, to conceal the harmful health effects of asbestos exposure. In their complaint, Plaintiffs relied solely on circumstantial evidence to support their allegations of a conspiratorial agreement, including. (1) an Abex funded study on asbestos dust with Saranac Laboratory (the “Saranac report”) where a mice study revealing tumors was omitted from the published report; (2) a 1953 Sales Agreement between O-I and Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp. (“OCF”) for the sale of Kaylo insulation; (3) “non-toxic” ads that were issued by O-I and later by OCF; (4) O-I’s sharing of two asbestos health articles from 1941, (5) a unilaterally sponsored O-I study of Kaylo insulation involving exposure to lab animals; and (6) overlapping directors and stock ownership of O-I in OCF.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Illinois Supreme Court Set to Rule on Asbestos Civil Conspiracy Claim

Husch Blackwell’s Caroline Chicoine is the current Vice Chair of the International Trademark Association’s (INTA) Impact Studies committee. Recently, she helped the committee finish the term strong with two important studies regarding Generation Z and the economic impact of trademark-intensive industries in Latin America.

Do Gen Zers make up a big part of your customer base? Gen Zers will make up the largest group of consumers worldwide by 2020. These consumers were born between 1995 and 2010 and are currently between 18 and 23 years of age. If you find your customer base consists of Gen Zers, the International Trademark Association’s Impact Studies committee’s recent study, titled “Gen Z Insights: Brands and Counterfeit Products” is a must-read. The multi-country study investigates the behavior of Gen Zers when it comes to their relationship with brands and attitudes toward counterfeit products. A copy of the Comprehensive Global Report covering ten (10) countries around the world, as well as reports for each country can be found here. For a comprehensive global infographic summarizing the results of the study, see here.
Continue Reading Insight from INTA’s Gen Z Study Brings Expanded Reach for Campaign on Counterfeit Goods