On March 9, 2023, a federal judge granted summary judgment on causation to three manufacturers of asbestos-containing products in a maritime lawsuit arising from the death of Thomas Deem from mesothelioma. The judge held that Ms. Deem had failed to put on evidence sufficient to show that Decedent’s exposure to the products manufactured by three defendants—John Crane, Inc. (“JCI”), Crosby Valves, LLC, and the William Powell Company—was a substantial contributing factor to his developing mesothelioma. See Sherri L. Deem v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp., et al., No. 17-5965BHS (W.D. Wash. Mar. 9, 2023). Continue Reading Frequency, Regularity, Proximity: The Western District of Washington Requires More Than a Product’s Presence to Find Causation

A breast cancer lawsuit based on trace levels of benzene in aerosol antiperspirant was dismissed with prejudice by a federal judge in Louisiana, because causation was not sufficiently pled. In particular, the plaintiffs failed to plead that (1) the plaintiff used a product that actually contained benzene and (2) benzene exposure can cause the plaintiff’s specific type of cancer. See Rooney v. Procter & Gamble Co., No. 22-11654, 2023 WL 1419870 (E.D. La. Jan. 31, 2023).Continue Reading Lawsuit Based on Benzene in Aerosol Antiperspirant Dismissed with Prejudice

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

On September 5, 2018, the Appellate Court for the Fourth District of Illinois introduced heightened standards for plaintiffs to establish duty and causation in asbestos litigation through its reversal of a McLean County trial court’s decision denying a defendant’s motion for judgment notwithstanding the verdict. McKinney v. Hobart Bros. Co., 2018 IL App (4th) 170333, appeal denied, 116 N.E.3d 948 (Ill. 2019). In McKinney, the plaintiff sued Defendant Hobart Brothers Company (“Hobart”) alleging his eight-month workplace exposure to Hobart’s asbestos-containing welding rods in 1962 and 1963 caused his mesothelioma. The welding rods at issue allegedly contained asbestos fibers that were encapsulated. The plaintiff also alleged exposure to asbestos-containing automotive products that occurred during the course of his forty-year mechanic career. In reversing the trial judgment, the McKinney Court addressed three issues of expert testimony admissibility under Rule 213 and ultimately tightened the reins on exposure claims involving encapsulated asbestos fibers by requiring industry knowledge of harm for the manufacturer’s product at issue before imposing a duty and ushering in the “substantial factor” test for causation.
Continue Reading Toxic Tort Monitor: A “Substantial Factor” in Bringing About Change? Illinois’ McKinney Appellate Decision Raises Plaintiff Burdens for Duty and Causation

October 11, 2017
New Developments
America’s Opioid Epidemic: Who Will Be Held Accountable?
By Ally Schwab

In recent years America has seen an increasing number of opioid-involved deaths and is currently experiencing what the Center for Disease Control (“CDC”) describes as an “opioid epidemic.” This crisis has been devastating to many communities and individuals, and

April 10, 2017
New Developments
I Like It, But Do I Trust It? Drivers Weigh In on Autonomous Vehicle Technology
By Shannon Peters

The American Automobile Association (AAA) recently released the results of a survey of American drivers which yielded an interesting conclusion:  Americans want autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies in their next vehicle, but they

September 2, 2016
New Developments
Toward a Defense of Mesothelioma Cases on Causation: Low Doses and Genetics
By Mark Zellmer

Today’s defendants in asbestos litigation often face plaintiffs’ claims that they have contracted mesothelioma from exposure to low or even doubtful doses of asbestos. If the mesothelioma looks to be spontaneous (idiopathic) or the result

July 8, 2016
New Developments
Federal Preemption of Pesticide Failure to Warn Claims
By Alan Hoffman

In 2005, the United States Supreme Court decided Bates v. Dow Agrosciences LLC, 544 U.S. 431 (2005), concerning preemption of state law failure to warn claims by the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, 7 U.S.C. §136 et

May 2, 2016
New Developments
Northern District of Illinois Decision on Take-Home Exposure Liability has Limited Application
By Lindsay McClure-Hartman

The Northern District of Illinois in Neumann v. Borg-Warner Morse Tec LLC, No. 15-C-10507, 2016 WL 930662 (N.D. Ill. March 10, 2016), recently granted a motion to dismiss on the basis that a product manufacturer