Legislative & Judicial Updates

The American Tort Reform Foundation (ATR) published its 2021-2022 Judicial Hellholes Executive Summary. The report highlights the most prominent jurisdictions across the United States known for allowing innovate lawsuits, welcoming litigation tourism, and expanding civil liability.

The 2021-2022 Judicial Hellholes

The ATR’s top judicial hellholes are:

(1) California. “The Golden State” is back in the No. 1 Judicial Hellhole spot due to appellate courts holding e-commerce companies strictly liable for products sold on their sites, “baseless” Prop-65 lawsuits, “frivolous” Private Attorney General Act (PAGA) and American with Disabilities Act (ADA) claims, and the AG promoting an “expansive view” of public nuisance law.

(2) New York. “The Empire State” is right behind California for having one of the worst legal climates in the nation. The ATR notes this is due to New York’s unmatched number of “no-injury” class actions, ADA lawsuits, and immense asbestos litigation docket.
Continue Reading Things Are Heating Up: The Top “Judicial Hellholes” For 2021-2022

On November 5, 2021, Cook County’s HIPAA Qualified Protective Order (“QPO”) was considerably reconstructed in light of the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Haage v.  Zavala, 2021 IL 125918.  Illinois litigators were alerted of these new changes through a Law Division-issued order, titled General Administrative Order 21-3 (“GAO”), and a corresponding standard QPO.  According to the GAO, to the extent that any previously entered QPO conflicts with the new one, the new QPO controls, and motions to vacate, amend, and/or modify are not required. As explained below, these changes, which affect virtually all Cook County cases involving bodily injuries, will make fact investigation and damages substantiation significantly more difficult for defendants.
Continue Reading Cook County Issues Revised HIPAA Order, Narrowing the Utility of Medical Provider Subpoenas

On October 1, 2021, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Senate Bill No. 447 into law, which permits a deceased individual’s personal representatives or successors-in-interest to recover damages for the decedent’s pain, suffering, or disfigurement in a lawsuit. Prior to this law, those suing on behalf of a deceased individual were limited solely to damages for the decedent’s injuries and punitive damages, if warranted. They could not previously recover for the decedent’s pain and suffering.
Continue Reading California Permits Pain and Suffering Damages for Survival Actions

On June 1, 2021, the United States Supreme Court announced it would not accept Johnson & Johnson’s petition for certiorari seeking to overturn a $2.12 billion dollar damages award rendered in Missouri to twenty-two Missouri women who alleged their ovarian cancer was caused from microscopic asbestos fibers in the company’s baby powder and other talc products.
Continue Reading A Focus on Missouri’s Tort Victim Fund

The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) may provide immunity to product manufacturers and premises owners who face liability from their administration or use of antivirals, drugs, biologics, diagnostics, devices, or vaccines used to treat, diagnose, cure, prevent, or mitigate COVID-19.
Continue Reading PREP Act Offers Immunity to Product Manufacturers and Premises Owners from COVID-19 Liability

Last year, we highlighted Iowa’s groundbreaking law to end over-naming of defendants in asbestos and silica litigation. Now, just a year later, three more states have followed suit: North Dakota, Tennessee, and West Virginia. All three states enacted their own versions of legislation aiming to reduce and prevent the over-naming of defendants in asbestos cases. While all three of the bills share similarities, North Dakota’s bill is the most expansive of the three.
Continue Reading Three More States Seek to End Over-Naming of Defendants in Asbestos and Silica Litigation

A New Jersey appeals court recently overturned talc verdicts totaling $117 million in damages against Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (JJCI) and Imerys Talc America, Inc. (Imerys) after finding expert testimony was Daubert-less, thus improper and warranted new trials.
Continue Reading New Jersey Talc Verdicts Overturned on Appeal for Daubert-Less Expert Opinions

Illinois Governor Pritzker signed into law Senate Bill 72 (SB 72), which includes prejudgment interest and amends the Illinois Interest on Judgment Act 735 ILCS 2-1303 (Act). The amendment imposes six-percent prejudgment interest on economic and noneconomic damages in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Prior to SB 72’s passing, Illinois generally only recognized post-judgment interest at nine-percent per annum, running from when the judgment was made to the time it was satisfied. Personal injury plaintiffs generally could not recover losses incurred before judgment, but will be able to following SB 72’s effective date on July 1, 2021.
Continue Reading Illinois Governor Signs Law Imposing Six-Percent Prejudgment Interest

The Dallas Court of Appeals sitting en banc recently denied review of a panel decision that reversed an $8.8 million dollar asbestos verdict and rendered a take-nothing judgment in favor of an employer in Bell Helicopter Textron, Inc. v. Dickson. The Court found missing any evidence that the employer knew in the 1960s that the millboards at issue contained asbestos. Because there was no evidence the employer had actual, subjective knowledge of any asbestos exposure risk, the employer could not be held liable under Texas law.
Continue Reading Texas Appellate Court Divided On Reversal Of Jury Verdict In Favor Of Mesothelioma Plaintiffs

The Fourth Circuit recently held that a premises owner in an asbestos case was not liable to a pipefitter based on insufficient evidence of exposure and the independent contractor exception to landowner liability.

Continue Reading Fourth Circuit Affirms Summary Judgment Based on North Carolina Independent Contractor Exception