Under the now widely-adopted Daubert standard, courts evaluate expert testimony based on the principles and methodology underlying the expert witness’s opinion. Admissibility of expert testimony is not governed by whether the factual underpinnings of the opinion are sound, or the conclusions correct, but rather by the relevancy and reliability of the methods applied in forming said opinion. The United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois recently illustrated these principles in Johnson v. Orton.

Continue Reading Cumulative Exposure Theories by Any Other Name Would Still Be Excluded: Illinois Court Requires Evidence of Length and Amount of Asbestos Exposure

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

Litigants recently tested the limits of liability waivers under Iowa law. In a 6-1 decision, the Iowa Supreme Court joined the bulk of other jurisdictions and held a contractual liability waiver was not enforceable “to the extent it purports to eliminate liability for the willful, wanton, or reckless conduct” a plaintiff alleges. Lukken v. Fleischer, 962 N.W.2d 71, 82 (Iowa 2021).

Continue Reading Can You Waive Liability for Reckless Conduct? Iowa Supreme Court Finally Says No.

About a year ago, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) proposed to amend the short form warning rules for Proposition 65.  Proposition 65 requires businesses to warn Californians about exposure to certain chemicals through “clear and reasonable” warnings.  There are currently two forms of “safe harbor” warnings, one of which is the short form warning. The short form warning requires less detail, takes up less label space, and does not require the listing of any chemical names, which has made it a popular choice.

Continue Reading OEHHA Proposes (Additional) Changes to Prop 65 Short Form Warnings

On December 22, 2021, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued a decision in Mallory v. Norfolk S. R.R. Co., Civ. A. No. 3 EAP 2021, Slip. Op. J-49-2021, at 33, 44 (Pa. Dec. 22, 2021) that is sure to become the pillar of jurisdictional challenges going forward. The Court unanimously held that general jurisdiction does not exist solely on the basis of a company’s registration to do business in Pennsylvania. Continue Reading Pennsylvania Supreme Court Puts An End to Consent By Registration Theory of General Personal Jurisdiction

On October 18, 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) issued its highly anticipated PFAS Strategic Roadmap: EPA’s Commitments to Action 2021-2024, setting forth a three-year multi-agency strategy to address per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (“PFAS”). The plan outlines actions that will fundamentally alter the administrative landscape around PFAS.

Continue Reading The EPA’s PFAS Strategic Roadmap Indicates Considerable New Regulations are Imminent.

On November 9, 2021, the Oklahoma Supreme Court set aside a $465 million verdict against Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in State ex rel. Hunter v. Johnson & Johnson, 2021 OK 54. In 2017, the State of Oklahoma sued three opioid manufacturers, including J&J, alleging the companies deceptively marketed opioids in the state. At trial, only J&J and the claim of public nuisance remained. At the end of a 33-day bench trial, the district court ordered J&J to pay $572 million, representing funding for one year of Oklahoma’s opioid abatement plan. Our previous report on the district court award can be found here. Due to a calculation error in the original award, the district court award was subsequently reduced to $465 million. According to the district court, J&J was liable under Oklahoma’s public nuisance statute for conducting false, misleading, and dangerous marketing campaigns about prescription opioids.

Continue Reading Oklahoma Supreme Court Sets Aside $465 Million Public Nuisance Opioid Verdict

In Murphy v. Viad Corporation, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan recently considered the issue of specific personal jurisdiction in the context of asbestos claims under the standard set forth by the Supreme Court of the United States in its recent decision in Ford Motor Co. v. Mont. Eighth Judicial Dist. Court. In doing so, the Court reinforced that specific jurisdiction cannot be established where the products at issue were never sold or marketed in that forum. Continue Reading Michigan Court Weighs In On Specific Personal Jurisdiction

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

Pump manufacturer Nash Engineering Company appears to have recently become the latest casualty of asbestos litigation. On October 19, 2021, Nash Engineering filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Connecticut. If Nash Engineering’s petition for relief is approved, this will spell the end of the 100-year-old corporation. Nash Engineering now joins a list of more than 60 other companies that have been forced to declare bankruptcy due to the burden of their asbestos-related liabilities. Continue Reading Is Nash Engineering the Latest Company Bankrupted by Asbestos Litigation?