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Articles Posted in Mesothelioma Court Rulings & Legislation

A collection of environmental groups recently filed a lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over claims the agency’s reporting practices essentially create loopholes that allow companies to avoid acknowledging asbestos may be present in their products. The Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization and four other groups filed their claim in U.S. District Court for the District of San Francisco, challenging the agency’s decision to allow exemptions to asbestos reporting rules.

In addition to challenging asbestos reporting rules, the plaintiffs also criticized the EPA’s denial of a petition to impose stricter reporting requirements on companies that handle asbestos, essentially leaving the public in the dark about potential dangers of exposure. Despite federal regulators designating asbestos as a known carcinogen with no safe level exposure since the 1970s, there is still no outright ban on asbestos due to an Appeals Court ruling in the early 1990s.

In their lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim the lack of reliable data makes it especially difficult for the EPA to determine where asbestos is manufactured, processed, or imported in the United States which flies in the face of the agency’s duty to perform risk assessments for the mineral. In June 2017, the EPA released a scoping document identifying products that may contain asbestos but that document provides little if any information on the level of asbestos present, quantities imported, or nation of origin, according to the lawsuit.

A State of New York Appeals Court recently handed down an important ruling in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that will allow the injured plaintiff to proceed with his claim and possibly recover compensation for the injuries he suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence. In its split decision, the appeals court allowed a lawsuit by a former merchant marine can not be thrown out based on a settlement he agreed to in the 1990s that was intended to exempt the employer from all future claims from the employee.

The lawsuit was originally brought against Chevron in in 2014 by a former employee after he developed mesothelioma, which the complaint alleged was induced by the victim’s exposure to asbestos while he served as a seaman in the Merchant Marine for nearly four decades. The plaintiff subsequently passed away from complications with the disease in 2015 but the victim’s wife took over as the plaintiff in the case.

Chevron had moved to resolve the case based on a release the victim signed in 1997 when he and approximately 100 other former workers were involved in another lawsuit against Texaco, which later merged with Chevron. The victim claimed he was exposed to asbestos fibers when he worked aboard Texaco ships during his career with the company and while he had not yet been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the settlement sought to release the company from any future liability.

In the midst of thousands of lawsuits claiming plaintiffs developed ovarian cancer, mesothelioma, and other serious health conditions, federal regulators and Congress have issued subpoenas to pharmaceutical and cosmetics giant Johnson & Johnson to seek answers over whether or not the company’s talc-based products pose a risk to the public. Executives for Johnson & Johnson recently revealed the company has received subpoenas from the Securities and Exchange Commission, the U.S. Department of Justice, and a member of the U.S. Senate seeking information about the health risks of talcum powder products.

Revelations came in a Form 10-k securities filing in which Johnson & Johnson admitted to receiving the records requests and claimed to be fully cooperating with federal investigators looking into the dangers of the company’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. Johnson & Johnson was rocked at the end of 2018 by Reuters reporting that analyzed thousands of pages of internal company documents that appeared to show executives with the corporation knew for decades about positive tests for carcinogens in its talcum powder products.

Johnson & Johnson currently faces approximately 13,000 talcum powder cancer lawsuits across the country from women and men who claim they developed deadly forms of cancer from years of exposure to carcinogens in the products. In 2019, Johnson & Johnson and its talc supplier, Imerys Talc USA, face dozens of trials in several states which could open the company to potentially billions in liability if juries continue to hand down substantial plaintiffs verdicts as they had in 2018.

An Arkansas federal jury recently handed down a substantial plaintiff’s verdict in an asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit filed by the family of a man who worked at a brake shop in Little Rock during the 1970s. The lawsuit named Honeywell International Inc., which years ago bought Allied Signal, a company that had acquired Bendix, which was one of the principal manufacturers of brake-shoe linings in the country.

According to the lawsuit, filed in U.S. Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, the plaintiff developed mesothelioma in late 2017 from years of exposure to asbestos while working as an auto mechanic installing brake shoes. Court records show that the plaintiffs claimed the victim worked at Stuart’s Brake Shop in Little Rock and North Little Rock from 1971 until 1983, frequently performing up to one dozen brake jobs a day.

The plaintiff passed away a short time after his mesothelioma diagnosis, and his family has continued with the lawsuit on behalf of his estate along with the help of their mesothelioma lawyers. In ruling on behalf of the plaintiff, the jurors awarded the victim’s estate $216,000 for loss of life, $5 million for his pain and suffering and $341,979 for his medical expenses. The bulk of the recovery came from an additional $1 million the jury awarded to each of the victim’s children and additional $10 million in punitive damages.

A New York state appeals court recently heard arguments in a case brought by a plaintiff who claims he developed mesothelioma cancer after he signed a settlement release with the company he accused of causing his mesothelioma cancer by exposure to asbestos. The New York Court of Appeals will decide whether part of the Federal Employer’s Liability Act negates a settlement release signed by the plaintiff in the case nearly two-decades ago and allow his claim against his previous employer to move forward.

The plaintiff in the case originally brought his asbestos lawsuit against Texaco in 2014, claiming he developed mesothelioma cancer while he served as a seaman in the Merchant Marine for nearly 40 years. The plaintiff had filed a previous lawsuit against Texaco, along with more than 100 other individuals, in federal court during the 1990s over a pulmonary injury suffered from exposure to asbestos and second-hand smoke on merchant ships.

Texaco and the plaintiff resolved the first claim, with the plaintiff and other co-plaintiffs signing settlement releases which sought to discharge the company from any future liability over the health effects of asbestos exposure. The settlement release read in part the plaintiff “understands that the long term effects of exposure to asbestos … may result in obtaining a new and different diagnosis from the diagnosis as of the date of this release.”

A New York state Supreme Court judge recently issued an important ruling allowing a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit against cigarette manufacturer R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and its supplier Hollingsworth & Vose. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claims that the defendants knew or should have known the asbestos contained in their cigarette filters were dangerous and could cause serious health problems for consumers.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in the Supreme Court of New York County, the plaintiff developed pleural mesothelioma as a result of smoking Kent brand cigarettes, marketed and sold by R.J. Reynolds with materials sourced by Hollingsworth & Vose, in the 1950s. The plaintiff alleges the filters in those cigarettes contained asbestos, which the defendants were aware could cause health complications.

The defendants filed various motions to have the case thrown out of court and dismissed without a trial, claiming they should not be held liable for the plaintiff’s injuries because the health effects of asbestos exposure were not widely known at the time the plaintiff smoked Kent brand cigarettes. Asbestos has only been regulated by the federal government since the 1970s, but due to its widespread use before restrictions were adopted, many companies were fully aware that their asbestos laden products posed a danger to the general public.

A federal jury recently handed down a $32.7 million award to the widow of a North Carolina man who passed away from a mesothelioma his estate claimed was due to asbestos exposure facilitated by hazardous conditions created by the defendants in the case. The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit named a pipe insulation supplier, Covil Corporation, as the main defendant in the case, alleging the company knowingly supplied carcinogenic materials for workers at the Firestone tire factory where the victim worked.

According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in August 2016 in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, the now deceased victim in the case was frequently exposed to deadly asbestos fibers while working at a Firestone tire factory from 1975 to 1995. The mesothelioma lawsuit claims that exposure took place due to asbestos-contaminated insulation supplied by the defendant, Covil Corporation.

Despite knowing full well the dangers its asbestos insulation products posed to workers at the Firestone tire plant, Covil Corporation made no attempt to provide warnings about the dangers of exposure to asbestos in its products, according to the lawsuit. After five days of testimony, the federal jury took just two hours to decide in favor of the victim and awarded his surviving spouse $32.7 million in compensatory damages for the harm brought on by the defendant’s negligence.

The family of an asbestos cancer victim may finally find justice after a New York state court ruled in their favor against a tile company they claim is responsible for the death of their loved one. The defendants had filed what is known as a motion for summary judgement to have the case tossed out on evidentiary rules but the judge hearing the case rejected the arguments put forth and will allow the claim to proceed to trial.

In their mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, the plaintiffs claim their father died in April 2017, just six-months after receiving a mesothelioma cancer diagnosis brought on by exposure to asbestos fibers in tiles produced by the defendant, Amtico Tile. The lawsuit alleges the victims spent more than a dozen years renovating homes using the defendant’s floor tiles, which had visible asbestos dust on top of the tiles in the boxes that he opened. The claim states the victim suffered from exposure to asbestos dust raised by cutting, scoring, breaking, and sanding tiles so that they would fit in the rooms where he was installing them.

The defendants attempted to have the case thrown out of court by asserting the plaintiffs had not established a clear connection between exposure to asbestos dust in their products and the terminal health conditions the victim developed. In denying the defendant’s motion for summary judgement, the New York Supreme Court pointed out that the plaintiffs met all the criteria necessary to have the claim proceed under New York laws and eventually be heard in front of a jury if necessary.

An Illinois man recently filed an asbestos related lung cancer lawsuit against a group of manufacturing companies claiming the defendants’ asbestos products are directly responsible for his diagnosis with a terminal form of lung cancer. The asbestos cancer lawsuit names Blackmer Pump Co., Sterling Fluid Systems USA LLC, Aurora Pump Company, and other companies that used asbestos in their products as defendants in the case.

According to the asbestos lung cancer lawsuit, filed in St. Clair County, Illinois Circuit Court, the plaintiff worked various jobs as a painter, waiter, and truck driver during which time he was exposed to deadly asbestos fibers in products manufactured by the defendants. The asbestos cancer lawsuit states the victim developed asbestos related lung cancer in 2017, and seeks damages in excess of $50,000 as well as punitive damages.

The lawsuit claims the plaintiff’s diagnosis came about due to the defendants developing, manufacturing, and marketing asbestos-contaminated products known to be harmful without providing warning to consumers. While asbestos may have been legal to use in manufacturing at one time, companies still knew for decades about the risks associated with their products but did nothing to warn the public.

The U.S. Supreme Court will soon take up arguments in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that could set an important precedent not only for other mesothelioma lawsuit plaintiffs but other innocent people harmed by the negligence of companies that failed to prevent foreseeable injuries. The case was brought by two surviving relatives of a man who developed mesothelioma while working aboard Navy ships, coming in contact with industrial gaskets made with deadly asbestos fibers as part of his job duties.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, entitled Air and Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries, the defendants in the case manufactured equipment for Navy ships that did not contain asbestos themselves, but required replaceable parts manufactured by third parties that used asbestos in the construction. The plaintiffs have asked the court to hold Air and Liquid Systems liable for the victim’s passing because they claim the company knew that its products would need integrated parts manufactured with asbestos gaskets and seals by third parties.

Specifically, the plaintiffs asked the justices hearing the case to apply the “foreseeability” standard of negligence commonly used in maritime injury cases which holds that Air and Liquid Systems could reasonably foresee that aftermarket parts containing deadly chemicals could cause harm. On the other hand, the defense has asked the judges to apply a more simplified standard in tort law, holding that the duty of the party to warn rests with that party that is in the best position to control or avoid the harm, in this case, the gasket maker.

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