The United States Supreme Court is set the hear a slate of upcoming cases including one particular pair of lawsuits that could have an impact on the future of asbestos cancer litigation across the country. Although not directly hearing asbestos mesothelioma claims, the Supreme Court will take up claims centered around which types of cases out-of-state courts may take under consideration when those claims involve multiple defendants.
One claim, Bristol-Myers-Squibb Co. v. Super. Ct. of Cal., could severely limit out of state plaintiffs’ rights to join claims joined with residents in California, a venue often seen as “plaintiff friendly” due to its robust consumer protection laws. Often times, large numbers of plaintiffs’ product liability cases are handled in multi-district litigation (MDL) that help streamline discovery and motion processes to move the lawsuit along in a more expedient manner.
The second case, BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, was brought on behalf of a deceased railroad worker by his surviving wife alleging hazardous chemical exposure caused her husband’s deadly cancer. The plaintiffs in Tyrrell allege injuries occurred in South Dakota, Minnesota, and Iowa but brought their claim in Montana under the Federal Employees Liability Act (FELA) despite being out-of-state residents.