Articles Posted in Asbestos litigation

Billy Dickson was an engineer for Bell Helicopter Textron’s plant in Hurst, Texas. He held this position for the better part of 38 years. From 1962 to the late 1970s, he was exposed to asbestos through hands-on work.

He was also indirectly exposed as nearby workers sanded asbestos-containing adhesives.

Dickson, who wore no respiratory protection, was frequently surrounded by clouds of asbestos dust.

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A jury found that the mesothelioma contracted by James Lester Phillips was caused in part by exposure to asbestos contained in Bendix brakes. In an appeal, Honeywell challenged the $5.8 million awarded to Phillips’s wife and surviving children.

In the published portion of the appellate opinion, the court rejected Honeywell’s claims of evidentiary error, concluding that the trial court properly admitted a 1966 letter of a Bendix employee sarcastically addressing an article in Chemical Week magazine that stated asbestos had been accused, but not yet convicted, of being a significant health hazard.

The court reasoned that the letter was circumstantial evidence relevant to the issue of Bendix’s awareness of asbestos’s potential to cause cancer. The court noted that Illinois and Florida cases holding admission of this letter was prejudicial were distinguishable because they did not include the important limiting instruction to the jury.

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Doris Neumann sued multiple companies, including MW Custom Papers LLC, a manufacturer of friction tape containing high levels of asbestos. In her lawsuit, she claimed she developed mesothelioma caused by her son’s clothing as a gas station attendant. He used a friction tape and wound up bringing stray asbestos fibers home, causing her to suffer secondary, or “take-home,” mesothelioma.

In the lawsuit, she claimed that MW Custom Papers knew or should have known the dangers of asbestos and should have warned users and families of take-home asbestos. MW Custom Papers moved to dismiss, asserting that take-home mesothelioma was not reasonably foreseeable under the Illinois Supreme Court rule found in the decision Simpkins v. CSX Transportation, Inc., 2012 IL 110662, 965 N.E.2d 1092 (Ill. 2012) and that MW could never know who the users and family members were and thus could not possibly warn them of the dangers of asbestos.

The motion was granted by the U.S. District Court judge in Chicago: The court concluded that it could not assess whether the injury was foreseeable and remanded the case so that the plaintiff could amend the complaint. Ultimately, the Illinois Supreme Court did not undertake the four-factor analysis and did not address whether a duty could exist as a matter of public policy, as the [5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals] has held.

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Joseph Sondag was alleged in this lawsuit to have been exposed to asbestos dust from drywall tape manufactured by Tremco when he worked as a plasterer from 1957 to 1983. In 2007, he was diagnosed with pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis.

At trial, Sondag’s treating physician, Dr. Al Rossi, testified that these conditions were probably caused by on-the-job exposure to asbestos. However, Dr. Rossi did not diagnose Sondag as suffering any symptoms from this condition.

According to Sondag’s wife, Phyllis, and their daughter, he suffered from shortness of breath. But he was an ex-smoker and was 82 when the case was tried. There was no expert testimony that the pleural plaques and interstitial fibrosis were symptomatic.

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In a recent workers’ compensation case, a bus mechanic who was diagnosed with lung cancer was told his illness was caused by exposure to diesel exhaust. The ruling in that case sent alarms out that the burning of diesel fuel has caused widespread worker injuries to those breathing diesel fumes.

Diesel fuel, also known as No. 2 oil, is a heavier product of the refined crude oil. It is widely used in machinery, small engines, trucks, forklifts and buses.

Those exposed to diesel fumes include children on school buses, as well as employees working in confined spaces in warehouses.

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In a U.S. District Court in South Carolina, a federal judge granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant Crane Co. in an asbestos claim. The family of Thomas C. Dandridge, now deceased, brought a claim against Crane for negligence, negligent failure to warn, breach of implied warranty of merchantability, strict tort liability, fraud, fraudulent misrepresentation, breach of post-sale duty to warn, wrongful death and loss of consortium.

In the years 1965 to 1976, Dandridge worked as a pipefitter at Coppersmith at the Charleston, S.C., Naval Shipyard where he was exposed to asbestos while working with and around various asbestos-containing products that included products used in valves manufactured and sold by Crane.

In the Estate of Dandridge lawsuit, it was alleged that Dandridge was exposed to asbestos contained in flange gaskets used to link Crane valves to pipelines.

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Illinois Tool Works purchased commercial liability policies many years ago from Travelers Casualty Surety Co. and Century Indemnity Co. They were purchased by Illinois Tool Works for the years 1971 through 1987.The policies were designed to have the insurance companies defend Illinois Tool Works against toxic-tort injury complaints that did not allege dates or exposure or injury.

The insurance companies reportedly declined to defend Illinois Tool in thousands of toxic-tort cases in which the plaintiffs alleged that their injuries were caused by exposure to hazardous substances, which included asbestos, benzene and manganese in welding supplies and other products distributed by other companies Illinois Tool started buying in 1993. According to the facts in the case, Illinois Tool did not enter the welding product market until 1993, while the last insurance policy that was issued expired in 1987.

A Cook County judge granted Illinois Tool’s request for summary judgment. On appeal, the tort complaints were characterized this way: Continue reading

In 2002, the Illinois Central Railroad was sued in the State of Mississippi where plaintiff Walter Fennell lived. The lawsuit alleged that he and others were exposed to asbestos when working for the railroad. After discovery was completed in 2006, the trial court in Mississippi dismissed the case without prejudice. The plaintiff, instead of re-filing in Mississippi, filed the lawsuit in the Circuit Court of St. Clair County, Ill., in 2009.

Again after discovery had been conducted, the defendant, Illinois Central Railroad, moved the court to dismiss the case under the interstate doctrine of forum non conveniens. The St. Clair County circuit court judge denied that motion and the case was appealed to the Illinois Appellate Court, which also affirmed the trial judge’s decision. This occurred in 2010. The case was then appealed to the Illinois Supreme Court.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruled that the citizens of St. Clair County should not be asked to bear the burden of this lawsuit because the vast majority of the identified witnesses, treating physicians and some of the plaintiffs were residing in Mississippi and not in Illinois.

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The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania ruled that the trial court was correct in granting the defendants’ motion to prevent a plaintiff’s expert from testifying in an asbestos case. In this case, the plaintiff’s expert theorized that “each and every fiber” of inhaled asbestos was a substantial contributing factor in asbestos-related diseases.

The defendants sought to bar or prevent that testimony using the U.S. Supreme Court’s rule in the Frye case.

In Betz/Simikian, Charles Simikian brought a product liability case against Allied Signal, Inc., Ford Motor Co. and others. The plaintiff claimed that throughout his 44-year career as an auto mechanic, he was exposed to asbestos products, which in turn caused him to develop the condition known as mesothelioma.

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