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.

On May 17, 2019, Illinois Governor Pritzker signed legislation eliminating the state’s 25-year statute of repose under the Workers’ Compensation Act for latent diseases, overturning the prominent Supreme Court decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070 (2015), which established clear precedent that an employee’s exclusive remedy lies under either the Workers’ Compensation or Occupational Diseases Act. Under the old law, an employee did not have a civil tort cause of action against their employer. This new law now creates an exception to the traditional exclusive remedy provision that has been part of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation system for over 80 years.

Shortly after the inauguration of Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker, legislation was introduced in both the Illinois House and Senate to essentially override the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070 (2015). In Folta, the Illinois Supreme Court held that the Worker’s Compensation Act and Occupational Diseases Act was the exclusive remedy to Illinois employees who suffered latent injuries such as mesothelioma.

June 18, 2018 | Editor: Jen Dlugosz | Assistant Editor: Natalie Holden
New Developments
New Tool for Non-Resident Defendants Seeking to Challenge Personal Jurisdiction in Illinois
By Dominque Savinelli

If you are a non-resident corporate defendant in Cook County, Illinois, you should become familiar with Campbell v. Acme Insulations, Inc., as it will undoubtedly

OSHA recently announced that it is delaying the effective date of the controversial anti-retaliation portion of its new recordkeeping rule in order to conduct additional outreach and provide educational materials and guidance for employers. The agency’s announcement comes on the heels of a legal challenge seeking injunctive relief from the anti-retaliation provision in the rule.

This week, the Illinois Supreme Court enforced the exclusive remedy provisions of the Illinois Worker’s Compensation Act and the Worker’s Occupational Disease Act (“the Statutes”) for latent diseases, including asbestos-related diseases that fall outside the 25-year limit of the statute of repose. The Court’s 4-2 decision in Folta v. Ferro Engineering, No. 118070 (Ill. Sup. Ct.) means plaintiffs can no longer successfully argue that the long latency period for mesothelioma renders their asbestos claims “non-compensable” as to their employers. Thus, their claims no longer meet that exception of the Statutes’ exclusive remedy bar.

This month the Missouri Court of Appeals for the Eastern District issued an opinion which slammed the door, once again, on the ability of employers to enter into an agreement with their employees whereby parties agree to bypass the court system in favor of private arbitration.  In Jimenez v. Cintas Corporation, S.W.3d (Mo. App. E.D. 2015) the Court found that there was insufficient consideration to support such an agreement due to lack of mutuality of obligation and the at will status of Jimenez’s employment.  This is not the first time in which a Missouri court has addressed this issue.  In Morrow v. Hallmark Cards, Inc., 273 S.W.3d 15 (Mo. App. W.D. 2008) these concepts were also addressed.  However, in Morrow, the issue of consideration was in reference to continued employment, not initial employment, which was the case in Cintas.  However, even more concerning was the fact that Cintas found that since the employer alone was exempt from arbitrating alleged violations of the non-compete provisions the agreement lacked mutuality.

On November 22, 2013, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania issued an order in Tooey v. Ak Steel Corp., 81 A.3d 851 (Pa., 2013) that had major implications for toxic tort litigation in the state.  Plaintiff John Tooey allegedly worked for Ferro Engineering as an industrial salesman of asbestos products from 1964 to 1982.  In 2007, Mr. Tooey developed mesothelioma; he passed away the following year.  The Tooey court considered whether the manifestation of an occupational disease outside of a 300-week period set forth by the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act removed a claim from the protection of the Act, such that the exclusivity provision of the Act did not apply.  The court concluded that claims for occupational diseases with long latency periods – over 300 weeks – do not fall within the purview of the Act and, therefore, the exclusivity provision is inapplicable.

In its 1984 decision in Hansome, the Missouri Supreme Court required an “exclusive causal connection” between the employee’s exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation statute and the adverse action the employee challenged.  No more.  Today, the Missouri Supreme Court swept Hansome aside and concluded the employee need only show that his exercise of rights under the workers’ compensation statute was a “contributing factor” to the adverse action.