In April, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Louisiana upheld the reduction of a large toxic tort verdict in James Gaddy, et al. v. Taylor-Seidenbach, Inc., et al., No. CV 19-12926. Plaintiff sought reconsideration of the remitted verdict which reduced the jury’s initial award of general damages from $7.5 million to $3 million. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Louisiana Upholds Reduction of a Large Toxic Tort Verdict
Iowa became the first state to enact a law addressing the over-naming of defendants in asbestos litigation this month. Signed June 1, the new law requires a plaintiff to file a sworn affidavit, in addition to the initial pleading, with specified evidence as a basis for his or her claim against each named defendant. Failure to provide this information against a defendant results in dismissal of that defendant. More details on the bill (SF2337) in our previous post. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Iowa Enacts Over-Naming Law
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, courts and litigants are reinventing civil litigation – holding hearings on Zoom or Skype, using emails and conference calls to communicate status, and taking remote depositions. That said, “virtual discovery” is not new. Since 1993, the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure expressly authorized taking depositions by remote electronic means. States including Ohio, Massachusetts and Texas have followed suit. See, e.g., Ohio R. Civ. P. 30(b)(6); Mass. R. Civ. P. 29; Tex. R. Civ. P. 199.1
Continue Reading Pitfalls of Remote Depositions
St. Louis City Judge Michael K. Mullen recently entered an important order interpreting Missouri’s 2019 legislation governing joinder and venue law. See Order, Johnson v. Bayer Corporation, et al., 1622-CC01049-01 (Mo. Cir. Ct. St. Louis Cty. May 5, 2020) (Johnson). Put simply, St. Louis City’s automatically-generated trial docket dates (the “rolling docket”) do not satisfy the eligibility requirement of a having a “trial date” on or before August 28, 2019 within the savings clause. Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Venue Statute’s Savings Clause Clarified by St. Louis City Order
Many cities and states have issued guidance regarding face coverings, social distancing, and other safety measures for employees. When each state has different, rapidly evolving guidance, and sometimes conflicting guidance, this can quickly become confusing. However, failure to establish policies and obtain consent can expose startups to litigation.
Startups may have questions and concerns regarding best practices for reopening and reducing the risk of spreading COVID-19. To address these concerns and mitigate risk, we have compiled a number of return-to-work policies and procedures for startups to consider. Continue Reading Return-to-Work Policies and Procedures for Startups
On June 4, the Illinois Supreme Court issued an opinion that further limits the exercise of personal jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants in Christy Rios et al., v. Bayer Corporation et al., and Nichole Hamby et al., v. Bayer Corporation et al., 2020 IL 125020. At issue was whether “Illinois may exercise specific personal jurisdiction over an out-of-state defendant as to the claims of out-of-state plaintiffs for personal injuries suffered outside of Illinois from a device manufactured outside of Illinois.” Following rulings from the United States Supreme Court and those from other states, the court answered with a resounding: “no.”
On March 10, 2020, in a 54 to 46 vote, the Iowa House of Representatives passed Senate File 2337 (SF2337) in an effort to reduce the over-naming of asbestos defendants in related lawsuits filed in Iowa. The legislation focuses on reducing, or eliminating, the over-naming of asbestos defendants by requiring plaintiffs to provide detailed evidence of exposure for each named defendant. While Iowa is not known as a hot-spot for asbestos-related lawsuits, Iowa has reportedly seen its fair share of alleged asbestos related deaths.¹ Iowa’s lack of asbestos filings likely comes as a result of the state’s significant tort reform efforts, with SF2337 being the latest addition.
On May 12, 2020, the Missouri legislature passed Senate Bill 591 (SB 591), which provides major changes related to how punitive damages are assessed in civil and medical malpractice actions and brings significant reform to the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act (MMPA), Missouri’s consumer protection law. Missouri Governor Mike Parsons is expected to sign the bill shortly.
U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) recently updated its Handbook for Employers: Guidance for Completing Form I-9, also called M-274. These changes are meant to clarify and add detail to existing Form I-9 rules, but do not alter the Form I-9 rules themselves or the version of the Form I-9 that employers should currently be using. As of April 30, all employers must use Form I-9 dated 10/21/2019. However, a few of these clarifications to the new edition of USCIS’ Handbook are of note.
Around the time that much of the United States was beginning to shut down in response to COVID-19, President Trump nominated Dr. Nancy B. Beck for Commissioner and Chairman of the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). A review of Dr. Beck’s education and background shows that the vast majority of her career – over 15 years – has been spent in public service. Yet Dr. Beck’s nomination has been met with criticism of her roughly five years as a Director at the American Chemistry Council (ACC). For instance, the Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee issued a press release which highlighted Dr. Beck’s time at the ACC and claimed that Dr. Beck was “doing the bidding of the chemical industry at the expense of the health and safety of the American public.” Likewise, the Washington Post and New York Times headlined articles about Dr. Beck with a description of her as a “chemical industry executive.” While it may be expected that Dr. Beck’s detractors would focus on her time at the ACC, media characterizations of her as a “chemical industry executive” do not accurately describe the whole of her professional efforts.