New York jury awards $1.4 million against John Crane Inc. in meso suit

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A jury in Buffalo, N.Y., has returned a $1.4 million verdict against John Crane Inc., finding that a U.S. Navy veteran developed mesothelioma after being exposed to the company’s asbestos-containing products, but offsets will mean the defendant will have no financial liability.

“Although we disagree with the jury’s holding, we are pleased that the settlement and medical setoffs on the case exceed the amount of the verdict and remove any financial liability for [John Crane],” said attorney Thomas J. Burns of O’Connell, Tivin, Miller & Burns, who represented the company.

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Alabama federal court seeks guidance on ‘take-home exposure’ duty

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos:  An Alabama federal judge has certified questions to the state Supreme Court seeking clarification on the state law regarding premises owners’ duty of care toward workers’ family members who are exposed to asbestos secondhand.

U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith of the Northern District of Alabama said there are no clear, controlling precedents to guide him on that question or on the causation standard to apply when a plaintiff is exposed to asbestos multiple times.

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Widow of gas station attendant will appeal judgment in benzene suit

From Westlaw Journal Toxic Torts: The widow of a New Orleans-area gas station attendant allegedly injured from benzene exposure on the job will appeal a summary judgment ruling in favor of three defendant oil companies in her product liability suit.

U.S. District Judge Sarah S. Vance of the Eastern District of Louisiana said in a June 29 order that plaintiff Yolande Burst could not prove causation after the judge excluded her expert’s opinions as unreliable.

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Borders gift card holders ask Supreme Court to reopen claims in bookseller’s bankruptcy

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: Consumers who have unredeemed gift cards for the bankrupt Borders bookstore chain have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to help them in an effort to get back $275 million for themselves and other cardholders.

The one-time customers say Borders Group Inc. failed to provide them adequate notice to make claims after the company filed a voluntary Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition in 2011.

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Divided Supreme Court clarifies bankruptcy courts’ jurisdictional powers

From Westlaw Journal BankruptcyA sharply split U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bankruptcy courts are empowered to decide so-called “Stern claims” — certain disputes otherwise outside a bankruptcy judge’s constitutional authority — so long as the litigants consent.

In a 6-3 ruling, the high court on May 26 reversed a decision of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Texas Supreme Court tosses estate’s $2.6 million meso award

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: The Texas Supreme Court has refused to reinstate a $2.6 million mesothelioma verdict, ruling that a statute exempting a premises owner from liability for injuries to an employee of a subcontractor applies even when the injuries are caused by the property owner’s negligence.

In an unpublished opinion, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed an appeals court’s “take-nothing judgment,” saying the estate’s claims were barred because the estate failed to show its claims fell outside the law’s scope.

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Trustees’ group asks 7th Circuit to affirm percentage-based compensation

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A Chapter 7 trustee was rightly paid for his services based on a percentage of the funds disbursed, despite the objections of a creditor, a trustees’ association has told a federal appeals court in an amicus brief.

The proper standard for calculating a Chapter 7 trustee’s compensation is the statutory commission rate in the absence of extraordinary circumstances, the National Association of Bankruptcy Trustees says in its filing with the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

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Colgate-Palmolive hit with $13 million verdict in talcum powder exposure suit

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A California jury has returned a $13 million damages award against Colgate-Palmolive Co., finding that exposure to asbestos in its talcum powder led a consumer to develop mesothelioma.

After only two hours of deliberations, the Los Angeles County Superior Court jury found the company 95 percent liable for plaintiff Judith Winkel’s injuries, according to a statement from the law firm that represented her, Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett.

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Money in joint marital account is exempt from bankruptcy estate

From Westlaw Journal Bankruptcy: A debtor in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can protect funds in a brokerage account she shares with her non-filing husband from being liquidated for the benefit of the bankruptcy estate, a Missouri federal judge has ruled.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Cynthia A. Norton of the Western District of Missouri made the ruling in an April 14 opinion over the objection of the U.S. Trustee, who argued the nearly $200,000 in the account was not exempt property.

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New York trial court reverses $11 million meso verdict

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A New York trial court judge has set aside an $11 million verdict and granted judgment for defendant Ford Motor Co. after finding no foundation for admitting testimony by the plaintiffs’ experts.

“Evidence of [the plaintiff’s] ‘regular’ exposure to brakes, clutches or gaskets sold or distributed by defendant during his work life, absent any quantification of the exposure, is insufficient to constitute a scientific expression of his exposure,” Justice Barbara Jaffe of the New York Supreme Court said in an April 13 order.

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