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

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

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 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

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

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s opinion in Carolyn Coffman et al v. Armstrong International, Inc., et al., at least implicitly, recognized a “bare metal defense” for the first time under Tennessee law. The Court addressed the issue of whether, under Tennessee law, equipment defendants “had a duty to warn of the dangers associated with the post-sale integration of asbestos-containing materials manufactured and sold by others.” The Court held that, under the Tennessee Products Liability Act (TPLA), Tenn. Code Ann. §29-28-101 through 108, the equipment defendants did not have a duty to warn end users about the post-sale incorporation of asbestos containing products manufactured by third parties.
Continue Reading Tennessee Supreme Court Implicitly Adopts the “Bare Metal Defense”