NEWARK, N.J. - The special master appointed to oversee discovery issues in a seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit involving allegations of fraud on the part of a talc defendant and its lawyer said in an Aug. 11 letter that a law firm's representation of an unrelated party does not disqualify him from serving (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
SAN FRANCISCO - The federal judge presiding over the multidistrict litigation for Roundup, the herbicide manufactured by Monsanto Co. that contains glyphosate, on Aug. 9 ordered plaintiffs' counsel to show cause why it should not be removed from the case or otherwise sanctioned monetarily in connection with the law firm's decision to post online disputed documents that Monsanto contends are confidential (In re: Roundup Products Liability Litigation, No. 2741 MDL, N.D. Calif.).
NEWARK, N.J. - Defendants in a seven-year-old asbestos lawsuit on Aug. 8 asked a New Jersey federal judge to replace a special discovery master due to conflict of interest from his past and current law firm associations (Kimberlee Williams, et al. v. BASF Catalysts LLC., et al., No. 11-1754, D. N.J.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - A District of Columbia Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals majority on July 21 upheld a U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) rule that prohibits the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices on airplanes because the law banning the devices from planes benefits the health of the passengers (Competitive Enterprise Institute, et al. v. United States Department of Transportation, et al., No.16-1128, D.C. Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 13112).
CLEVELAND - Expert asbestos medical testimony that echoes the requirements in Ohio law is sufficient to make a prima facie case and need not be a signed document, an Ohio appeals court held July 20 (Kevin E. Howell v. Consolidated Rail Corp., et al., No. 104554, Ohio App., 8th Dist., 2017 Ohio App. LEXIS 2984).
NEWARK, N.J. - A New Jersey federal magistrate judge on July 14 granted an insured's motion to consolidate a subrogation lawsuit filed by a property owner against an insured and an insurance coverage lawsuit filed against the insured after determining that the suits involve common questions of law regarding subrogation of costs and coverage for a property contaminated with mercury (BRG Harrison Lofts Urban Renewal LLC v. General Electric Company, et al., and Evanston Insurance Co. v. Accredited Environmental Technologies Inc., et al., Nos. 16-6577, 17-1584, D. N.J., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109447).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Michigan law does not hold a retailer liable for failing to warn about the hazards posed by asbestos in floor tiles it sold, a judge in Delaware concluded July 12 in granting Sears Roebuck Co. summary judgment (Scott Glaser and Sandra Glaser v. Sears Roebuck Co., et al., No. N15C-08-207 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co., 2017 Del. Super. LEXIS 342).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Evidence that a company manufactured valves with frequently replaced asbestos-containing components and that a man worked with that manufacturer's valves would impermissibly require a jury to speculate to find that the man suffered exposure to asbestos parts made or supplied by the company, a Delaware judge held July 12 in applying Massachusetts law (Dorothy Charbonneau, et al. v. Cleaver-Brooks Inc., et al., No. N15C-01-045 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
NEW YORK - A judge improperly instructed the jury that convicted former Speaker of the New York Assembly Sheldon Silver on the scope of conduct falling within honest services fraud and extortion charges under recent U.S. Supreme Court precedent, the Second Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals held July 13 in vacating his conviction involving mesothelioma referrals he sent to a law firm (United States of America v. Sheldon Silver, No. 16-1615, 2nd Cir.).
ST. THOMAS, Virgin Islands - A Virgin Islands judge on July 10 ordered the consolidation of two separate wrongful death suits against R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. for trial because they present nearly identical issues of law against the same defendant (Jevon Gerald v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-631, Christian Brown v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., No. ST-10-CV-692, Virgin Islands Super., St. Thomas, 2017 V.I. LEXIS 102).
WILMINGTON, Del. - Under Massachusetts law, manufacturers are not liable for failing to warn about hazards posed by third-party replacement parts, dooming a widow's asbestos action, a judge in Delaware said July 11 (Dorothy Charbonneau, et al. v. Cleaver-Brooks Inc., et al., No. N15C-01-045 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Organizations that oppose President Donald J. Trump's executive order that a government agency may issue a new regulation only if it rescinds at least two existing regulations on June 26 filed a brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia arguing that the order - which would affect rules governing exposure to toxic substances - "offends the separation of powers by usurping the constitutional lawmaking power assigned to Congress and violates the president's unambiguous duty to 'take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,'" pursuant to the Constitution (Public Citizen, Inc. v. Donald Trump, No. 17-253, D. D.C.).
SAN FRANCISCO - A law firm retained privilege over a former asbestos attorney's work product and was not required to obtain his permission before disclosing emails between him and a scientific consulting firm, a California appeals court held June 21 (Tucker Ellis v. The Superior Court of City and County of San Francisco, Evan C. Nelson, No. A148956, Calif. App., 1st Dist., 2017 Cal. App. LEXIS 571).
BOSTON - An environmental group's Clean Water Act (CWA) lawsuit against a company that crushes brick, concrete and asphalt for construction projects was dismissed by a federal judge in Massachusetts on June 16 after he found that the group failed to allege how the company was illegally discharging storm water into the Bogastow Brook (Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. v. American Recycled Materials, Inc., No. 16-12451-RGS, D. Mass., 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 92803).
CLEVELAND - Expert testimony attributing a man's mesothelioma to cumulative exposure to asbestos in automobile brakes simply dresses up the theory that every exposure leads to disease in new clothing and is inadmissible under Ohio law, a manufacturer and its amici curiae told the state's highest court on June 15 (Mark Schwartz, et al. v. Honeywell International Inc., et al., No. 2016-1372, Ohio Sup.).
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - A man on June 6 filed suit against the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Thomas Price, the secretary of HHS, in Florida federal court, saying the defendants violated federal law by allowing a tobacco company to use the word "natural" in the brand name and trademarks (Justin Sproule v. United States Food and Drug Administration, et al., No. 9:17-cv-80709, S.D. Fla.).
MADISON, Wis. - Environmental asbestos exposure claims appear to simply be an attempt at avoiding the exclusivity provision of the state's workers' compensation law, while claims involving the licensing of a patent appear entirely frivolous and must be explained, the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal held June 6 while affirming judgment for the two companies at the heart of the appeal (Janet Pecher, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-1799, Dianne Jacobs, et al. v. Rapid American and Weyerhaeuser Co. and Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2376, Katrina Masephol v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-2377, Robert Sydow, et al. v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2378, Kathy Boyer v. Owens-Illinois Inc., No. 16-2379, Janice Seehafer v. Weyerhaeuser Co., et al., No. 16-2380., 7th Cir.).
ANNAPOLIS, Md. - A woman's reading of the state's statute of repose is both outdated and implausible and does not preclude application of the law to her case alleging exposure from insulation applied to a generator whose construction was completed in June 1970, a Maryland appeals court held May 31 (June Diane Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., No. 453 September Term, 2015, June Duffy, et al. v. CBS Corp., No. 40 September Term, 2016, Md. Spec. App., 2017 Md. App. LEXIS 561).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A judge in Delaware state court on May 30 denied a motion filed by a plaintiff in a tobacco product suit to certify a class of Delaware smokers who spent money on Marlboro lights and denied the tobacco company's motion for summary judgment because the plaintiff's claims arise from state law, not federal law (Mary A. Carroll, et al. v. Philip Morris USA Inc., No. 03C-08-167, Del. Super.).
ATLANTA - A majority of the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in an en banc decision on May 18 ruled that federal law does not preempt smokers from filing negligence suits against tobacco companies and affirmed a $2.75 million verdict in an Engle progeny suit (Theresa Graham v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 13-14590, 11th Cir., 2017 U.S. App. LEXIS 8718).
PHILADELPHIA - Less than two months after having its fraud and racketeering claims against two law firms and their founders dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction, John Crane Inc. (JCI) filed the identical claims against one of the firms and its principals in Pennsylvania federal court May 15 (John Crane Inc. v. Shein Law Center Ltd., et al., No. 2:17-cv-02210, E.D. Pa.).
WILMINGTON, Del. - A woman allegedly exposed to asbestos carried home on her husband's clothing has not alleged a change in law or newly discovered evidence that warrants revisiting a ruling that a manufacturer is not liable for her injuries, a Delaware state judge held May 11 (Elizabeth Ramsey, et al. v. Atlas Turner Ltd., et al., No. N14C-01-287 ASB, Del. Super., New Castle Co.).
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - Philip Morris USA Inc. says in a May 8 reply brief in California federal court in support of its motion to dismiss a wrongful death suit against it and another tobacco company that the man who brought the suit failed to join his children as parties and that he cannot represent them because he is suspended from practicing law (Julius Engel v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., et al., No. 2:17-cv-618, E.D. Calif.).