N.Y.C. property owner asks Supreme Court to revive suit over 9/11 contamination

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journals

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: The U.S. Supreme Court should review a 2nd Circuit decision that found the owners and lessees of the World Trade Center were immune from an environmental cleanup lawsuit stemming from the Sept. 11 attacks, according to a developer that spent $26 million to remove asbestos and other “WTC dust” from its nearby property.

In a reply brief filed with the high court Nov. 7, Cedar & Washington Associates, which owns a property at 130 Cedar St. in New York, says the appeals court’s decision “threatens to have wide-ranging and profound impacts on issues of national significance ranging from the balance of war power between the executive branch and Congress, to the stability of the insurance and commercial real estate markets.”

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Plaintiffs’ firm blasts unsealing of records in Garlock bankruptcy dispute

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journals

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: An effort to unseal records related to Garlock Sealing Technologies’ bankruptcy proceeding is “nothing more than a frivolous attempt to discourage victims of asbestos products and their representatives from seeking just compensation,” an attorney for a plaintiffs’ law firm said in a Nov. 3 statement.

Garlock has no one but itself to blame for the bankruptcy, Michael W. Wagner of Jones Day LLP said.  Wagner represents Simon Greenstone Panatier Bartlett, one of the law firms ordered, in related litigation, to release records from lawsuits for asbestos-exposure injuries it filed against Garlock and other companies.

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Auto insurer’s exclusion violates public policy, California appeals court says

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: A passenger injured in a car crash can seek to recover from his roommate-driver’s insurance company despite a non-relative resident exclusion in the policy, a California appeals court has ruled.

In what the injured party’s attorney said was a case of first-impression in the state, the 4th District Court of Appeal said in a published opinion that the exclusion was overbroad and must be stricken as invalid.

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Insurers responsible for up to $1.8 billion in asbestos claims, N.J. appellate court says

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: About 50 primary and excess insurance companies are on the hook for hundreds of millions in asbestos liabilities, a New Jersey appeals court has ruled, affirming a lower court’s decision.

The insurers brought the appeal of a trial court verdict in 2010 that found they were obligated to pay for coverage for IMO Industries Inc. in underlying asbestos-related injury suits up to the policies’ limits of $1.85 billion, attorneys involved with the case said.

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Tire worker’s family wins $18.6 million verdict in Texas asbestos trial

By Ken Bradley, Senior Legal Writer, Westlaw Journal

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos:  The family of a Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. worker who developed mesothelioma after his alleged exposure to asbestos fibers at a Texas plant has won a $18.6 million verdict against the company in state court.

A jury in the Dallas County Court at Law on Sept. 5 awarded $2.7 million in noneconomic damages, $900,000 in economic damages and $15 million in punitive damages to the survivors of Carl Rogers, according to a statement released by their attorneys.

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Divided Texas high court finds asbestos medical report law constitutional

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A Texas law that requires the dismissal of asbestos personal injury suits in the absence of a physician’s report certifying a plaintiff’s pulmonary impairment is constitutional, a sharply divided Texas Supreme Court has ruled.

In its 5-4 ruling, the state high court said a trial court should have dismissed a lawsuit against Union Carbide Corp. because the family of a man who worked as an insulator for the company did not submit a report on his cause of death that was based on pulmonary testing results.

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Boston federal jury returns $9 million verdict in meso case

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A Boston federal court jury has found that asbestos-spray insulation maker T&N Ltd. engaged in grossly negligent conduct in exposing a construction supervisor to the product and returned a $9.3 million verdict against the company.

The award returned June 20 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts included $6.2 million in punitive damages.

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Split high court gives some companies religious exemption on contraceptives

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: Closely held, for-profit corporations may claim a religious exemption from the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring that most employers include copay-free contraception in employees’ health insurance plans, a sharply divided U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.

Relying on a 1993 statute that the court said provided “very broad protection for religious liberty,” Justice Samuel Alito wrote for the 5-4 majority that the law does not discriminate “against men and women who wish to run their businesses as for-profit corporations in the manner required by their religious beliefs.”

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No coverage for death of policyholder’s live-in nephew, California court says

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: An insurance company rightly denied coverage for a homeowner found liable for $750,000 in the wrongful death of his live-in nephew because the policy excluded payments for injuries to resident relatives, a California appeals court has ruled.

While the parties disputed over whether 2-year-old Anthony Peet was a resident in his aunt and uncle’s house, it was the only home in which the child lived the last two months of his life, the 6th District Court of Appeal said in an unpublished opinion.

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Asbestos claimants say Garlock misled court, violated orders

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC “has committed a fraud upon the court” by presenting false testimony and manipulating evidence in its bankruptcy proceedings, lawyers for asbestos personal injury claimants say in a motion to reopen the record that produced what they call a “tainted” result.

The claimants are pushing back against a January ruling by a bankruptcy judge that found Garlock’s liability for present and future asbestos claims is $125 million, far less than the more than $1 billion they sought.  In re Garlock Sealing Techs., No. 10-31607, 2014 WL 104021 (Bankr. W.D.N.C. Jan. 10, 2014) (see Westlaw Journal Asbestos, Vol. 36, Iss. 8).

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