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

The Eighth Circuit recently held that a motion to dismiss based on forum non conveniens filed 18 months after the start of litigation was untimely. According to the decision, if the forum was truly inconvenient, the defendants should have filed a motion to dismiss earlier than 18 months after the complaint was filed and before the end of discovery. Continue Reading Eighth Circuit Reverses Dismissal Based on <i>Forum Non Conveniens</i> Motion

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

Heavy metals, such as arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury, are present in baby foods produced by U.S. baby food manufacturers according to a report released in February by the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. Heavy metals are considered dangerous to human health and are especially concerning for children and babies, who are more susceptible to the neurological effects associated with exposure to heavy metals. Continue Reading Heavy Metals in Baby Food – Congressional Report Unleashes a Flood of Litigation

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

Virtual civil jury trials will be scheduled statewide in New Jersey starting April 5, 2021, with consent to proceed remotely not required as part of the state’s two-phase approach to virtual jury trials for all dockets and tracks during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Continue Reading Virtual Civil Jury Trials Begin Without Consent in New Jersey Beginning April 5