Litigants recently tested the limits of liability waivers under Iowa law. In a 6-1 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court joined the bulk of other jurisdictions and held a contractual liability waiver was not enforceable “to the extent it purports to eliminate liability for the willful, wanton, or reckless conduct” a plaintiff alleges. Lukken v. Fleischer, 962 N.W.2d 71, 82 (Iowa 2021).

Continue Reading Can You Waive Liability for Reckless Conduct? Iowa Supreme Court Finally Says No.

About a year ago, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed to amend the short form warning rules for Proposition 65.  Proposition 65 requires businesses to warn Californians about exposure to certain chemicals through “clear and reasonable” warnings.  There are currently two forms of “safe harbor” warnings, one of which is the short

On December 22, 2021, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision in Mallory v. Norfolk S. R.R. Co., Civ. A. No. 3 EAP 2021, Slip. Op. J-49-2021, at 33, 44 (Pa. Dec. 22, 2021) that is sure to become the pillar of jurisdictional challenges going forward. The Court unanimously held that general jurisdiction does not exist solely on the basis of a company’s registration to do business in Pennsylvania. In so doing, the Commonwealth’s highest court eviscerated plaintiffs’ go-to opinion to the contrary, Webb-Benjamin LLC v. International Rug Group, LLC, 192 A.3d 1133 (Pa. Super. 2018), and emphasized that Pennsylvania’s long-arm statute, 42 Pa. C.S. § 5301(a)(2)(i), which provides that companies registering to do business in the Commonwealth consent to general jurisdiction, “clearly, palpably, and plainly violates the Constitution.” Mallory, Slip. Op. J-49-2021, at 33.  This welcomed clarification brings Pennsylvania’s general jurisdiction jurisprudence in line with the United States Supreme Court’s precedent and, hopefully, puts an end to litigation that does not belong in Pennsylvania against defendants who merely registered to do business there.
Continue Reading Pennsylvania Supreme Court Puts An End to Consent By Registration Theory of General Personal Jurisdiction

On November 9, 2021, the Oklahoma Supreme Court set aside a $465 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in State ex rel. Hunter v. Johnson & Johnson, 2021 OK 54. In 2017, the State of Oklahoma sued three opioid manufacturers, including J&J, alleging the companies deceptively marketed opioids in the state. At trial, only J&J and the claim of public nuisance remained. At the end of a 33-day bench trial, the district court ordered J&J to pay $572 million, representing funding for one year of Oklahoma’s opioid abatement plan. Our previous report on the district court award can be found here. Due to a calculation error in the original award, the district court award was subsequently reduced to $465 million. According to the district court, J&J was liable under Oklahoma’s public nuisance statute for conducting false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns about prescription opioids.

Continue Reading Oklahoma Supreme Court Sets Aside $465 Million Public Nuisance Opioid Verdict

In Murphy v. Viad Corporation, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan recently considered the issue of specific personal jurisdiction in the context of asbestos claims under the standard set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in its recent decision in Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court. In doing so, the Court reinforced that specific jurisdiction cannot be established where the products at issue were never sold or marketed in that forum.
Continue Reading Michigan Court Weighs In On Specific Personal Jurisdiction

Pump manufacturer Nash Engineering Company appears to have recently become the latest casualty of asbestos litigation. On October 19, 2021, Nash Engineering filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut. If Nash Engineering’s petition for relief is approved, this will spell the end of the 100-year-old corporation. Nash Engineering now joins a list of more than 60 other companies that have been forced to declare bankruptcy due to the burden of their asbestos-related liabilities.
Continue Reading Is Nash Engineering the Latest Company Bankrupted by Asbestos Litigation?

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

On October 1, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill No. 447 into law, which permits a deceased individual’s personal representatives or successors-in-interest to recover damages for the decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement in a lawsuit. Prior to this law, those suing on behalf of a deceased individual were limited solely to damages

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