On August 24, 2020 in Ann Finch v. Covil Corp., 972 F.3d 507 (4th Cir. 2020), the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a North Carolina federal district court’s decision, sustaining a $32.7 million verdict in favor of  the plaintiff in an asbestos-related wrongful death lawsuit against insulation contractor Covil Corporation. On appeal, Covil argued that the district court erred in instructing the jury as to proximate cause and refused to reduce the damages award, however the three-judge panel found no fault with the district court’s jury instructions or its rationale for refusing to reduce the jury verdict.


Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Refuses to Reduce Record-Breaking $32.7 Million Asbestos Verdict

On May 17, 2019, Illinois adopted legislation eliminating the state’s 25-year statute of repose under the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act for latent diseases. The legislation overturned the prominent Supreme Court decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering which established clear precedent that an employee’s exclusive remedy lies under either the Illinois Workers’ Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act. Recently, in Patton v. A.W. Chesterton, defendant McNulty Brothers Company (McNulty) attempted to challenge the constitutionality of the 2019 legislation when it moved to dismiss Mr. Patton’s lawsuit arguing his case was barred by the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Mr. Patton allegedly worked as a carpenter at McNulty from 1969 through 1973. Mr. Patton alleged that he regularly worked with asbestos-containing ceiling tiles and around asbestos-containing joint compound while he was employed by McNulty. Mr. Patton was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September of 2019, four months after the amendment of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act. Mr. Patton subsequently filed his complaint in the Third Judicial Circuit of Madison County, Illinois on October 15, 2019.
Continue Reading Latent Injury Exception to Illinois Workers’ Compensation Legislation Challenged

The first two remote asbestos jury trials showcase the unique challenges of trying cases remotely. Many Americans have become accustomed to working from home and the technology that comes with it. Most courts though are still hesitant to proceed with remote asbestos jury trials, which is likely for the best. If, however, remote asbestos jury trials become more prevalent, then courts and litigants must learn from the challenges presented in these early cases.

Continue Reading Remote Asbestos Jury Trials Face Challenges

The statute of limitations on asbestos claims was recently reevaluated by the Minnesota Supreme Court. In Palmer v. Walker Jamal Company, the court reinforces that the clock begins when the plaintiff learns they have an asbestos-related disease, rather than when they identify a specific product as a potential cause.
Continue Reading Statute of Limitations on Asbestos Claims: MN Supreme Court Reinforces

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.

Whelan v. Armstrong International, Inc.

Arthur Whelan was a career tradesman, spending over 40 years working as a commercial plumber and auto-mechanic.

Personal jurisdiction over a foreign corporation was asserted by The Minnesota Court of Appeals in a recent asbestos case. The court found that the company’s former asbestos-tile factory in the state provided sufficient minimum contacts for specific personal jurisdiction.
Continue Reading Personal Jurisdiction Over Foreign Corporation Asserted By Minnesota Court of Appeals

Proximate cause jury instruction was further clarified by a Washington appellate court when the court reversed the asbestos defense verdict in Clevenger v. John Crane, Inc. In the case, plaintiff Era Clevenger alleged that her deceased husband’s forty-year history of occupational exposure to asbestos (in the Navy, as a city water department mechanic, and as a pipefitter) resulted in his death.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Proximate Cause Jury Instruction Further Clarified by Washington Appellate Court

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

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.

Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Over-Naming of Asbestos Defendants Bill Awaits Iowa’s Governor