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 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

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

The Eastern District of Pennsylvania in Sullivan v. A. W. Chesterton, Inc., et al., No. 18-3622 (E.D. Pa. June 6, 2019), grappled with the constitutionality of the Pennsylvania statutes, 15 Pa.C.S. § 411 and 42 Pa.C.S. § 5301, (the “PA Statutory Scheme”) requiring out-of-state businesses to register in the state, which in turn functions as consent to general jurisdiction. This issue became salient only in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117 (2014) (holding corporation is “at home” only where it is incorporated or maintains its principal place of business). The Eastern District held that the PA Statutory Scheme requiring out-of-state corporations to register before they conduct business in the state and thereby consent to general jurisdiction in Pennsylvania offends the Due Process Clause and is unconstitutional.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: Pennsylvania Federal Court Holds Statutory Scheme Requiring Out-of-State Corporations to Register to Do Business and Consent to General Jurisdiction is Unconstitutional

The proverbial hacksaw inside a prisoner’s birthday cake has been supplanted by a new technological trend for bringing contraband into the jailhouse – Unmanned Aircraft Systems (“UAS”). As early as 2015, a fight broke out at the Mansfield Correctional Institution in Ohio when a drone carrying tobacco, marijuana, and heroin crashed into a yard inside the facility. That same year, a drone trafficking hacksaw blades, a cellphone, and Super Glue crashed into a maximum security prison in Oklahoma. Similar plots have been attempted in more than a dozen states nationwide, leading states like North Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas to ban drone flights over correctional facilities. Perhaps to save us from another pre-emption fight over UAS operational restrictions, the federal government is now following suit.

Continue Reading FAA Adds to No-Fly Zones for Drones After Prisoners Smuggle Drugs, Weapons Through the Skies

Toxic Tort Monitor

March 14, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editors: Anne McLeod and Natalie Holden
New Developments
Precluding a Second Bite at the Apple; Federal District Court Grants Summary Judgment on Basis of Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel
By Tierra Jones

In the interest of justice and courtroom efficiency, res judicata aims to prevent parties

clocking systemA Wisconsin employer recently made headlines when it announced that it was offering its employees the option to be outfitted with a microchip to replace the cards or badges they use regularly while at work. The company, called Three Square Market, held a “chip party” on August 1 during which 41 out of its 85 employees opted to have the small chip implanted in their hand. Although the purpose of this RFID chip is limited to office functions such as making purchases in the break room market, logging into computers and printers, and accessing the building, one cannot help but think about the implications this type of technology could have on employee privacy.

Continue Reading It’s 10:00 p.m. – Do You Know Where Your Employees Are?

Product Liability Monitor

September 8, 2017
New Developments
The SELF DRIVE Act Motors Through Congress
By Mark Pratzel

On September 6, 2017 the House of Representatives unanimously passed H.R. 3388, also known as the “Safely Ensuring Lives Future Deployment and Research in Vehicle Evolution Act,” also known as the “SELF DRIVE Act.” The broad, bipartisan support for this