No claim against tortfeasor’s insurer following sexual assault, 2nd Circuit says

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: A woman who won a $100,000 judgment against a chiropractor for sexual assault cannot bring a direct action against his insurer to collect damages because federal law regulating risk retention groups bars the action, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

Federal law “contains sweeping preemption language that sharply limits the authority of states to regulate … the operation of risk retention groups chartered in another state,” a three-judge panel said in an April 4 opinion.  A risk retention group is an insurance company funded, owned and operated by its insureds.

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Ford beats some claims in salesman’s mesothelioma lawsuit

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A 1988 state law that restricted the theories of liability that can be raised against manufacturers has spared Ford Motor Co. from facing several claims pursued by the sons of a salesman who died from mesothelioma, a Louisiana federal judge has ruled.

It would be illogical to hold Ford to a legal standard that was repealed years before the salesman was ever exposed to an allegedly asbestos-containing Ford product, U.S. District Judge James T. Trimble Jr. of the Western District of Louisiana said in a March 27 memorandum ruling.

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Maryland court rejects plan to consolidate thousands of asbestos cases

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A Baltimore trial court has rejected a proposal by a plaintiffs’ law firm to consolidate about 13,000 non-mesothelioma asbestos injury lawsuits, a plan defendants claimed was riddled with due process violations.

“This court has little faith that the ill-defined proposal of the movants would improve the operation of the asbestos docket,” Judge John M. Glynn of the Baltimore City Circuit Court said in a March 5 opinion.

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2nd Circuit reinstates breach-of-contract suit against disability insurer

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: Two policyholders’ reasonable expectations that their supplemental disability insurance payments extended to age 65 meant they have the right to see the policies reformed to reflect that, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The insurer offered no evidence to rebut the plaintiffs’ claims that the insurance agent’s promises differed from the terms of the policies, and therefore reformation of the contracts is available to them, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a Feb. 24 opinion.

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Delaware high court boots Argentine’s asbestos suit against DuPont

The Delaware Supreme Court has affirmed the dismissal of a personal injury suit against DuPont Co. based on alleged asbestos exposure that took place in Argentina, ruling the unique circumstances of the case would pose an “overwhelming hardship” to the company.

The decision was 4-1, with the dissenting judge saying the majority overruled settled law and made the ruling to promote its “real concern” — protecting “the Delaware corporate franchise.”

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Businesses, insurers urge Washington state to limit asbestos tort actions

The Washington Supreme Court should reject an effort by the widow of a Boeing Co. employee who allegedly had an asbestos-related disease to modify the state workers’ compensation law to allow a claim for alleged occupational asbestos exposure to be brought as an action in tort, a coalition of business groups says in an amicus brief.

It would be inconsistent with the Legislature’s intent to find that “any employer who is engaged in hazardous materials operations has deliberately intended to injure its work force,” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and other pro-business and insurance coalitions say in the Jan. 10 brief.

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General liability policy covers food truck accident, California appeals court says

A general liability policy, not an auto insurance policy, covers a product liability claim stemming from an accident in which a policyholder was burned by cooking oil in a food truck, a California appeals court has ruled.

The auto exclusion in the general liability policy contains an exception for mobile equipment, which covers a food truck that served primarily as a kitchen and not as transportation, according to the opinion by the 2nd District Court of Appeal.

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Garlock wins big in bankruptcy court with low liability estimate

A federal judge has found that Garlock Sealing Technologies LLC’s liability for present and future mesothelioma claims is $125 million, far less than claimants’ push for over $1 billion.

It is a “great result” for Garlock, according to attorney Mark Behrens of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, a firm involved in asbestos defense work.  Behrens was not involved in the case.

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Texas federal judge lets insurer seek ruling on duty to defend

An insurance company may pursue its declaratory judgment action against a couple suing a policyholder because federal courts have jurisdiction over such third-party beneficiary actions, a Texas federal judge has ruled.

The defendants in this suit were proper parties because they may have the right to collect from the insurance company’s policyholder, U.S. District Judge Sidney A. Fitzwater of the Northern District of Texas said in a Jan. 13 opinion.

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Washington appeals court reinstates case against asbestos pipe maker

The widow of a former water district worker raised sufficient circumstantial evidence that he was exposed to a defendant’s asbestos-containing pipe to overcome a summary judgment motion, a Washington appeals court has ruled.

The ruling by the 1st Division Court of Appeals “clarifies what circumstantial evidence is required to present a prima facie case at the summary judgment stage under Washington state’s asbestos product identification and exposure standards,” said Chandler H. Udo of Bergman Draper Ladenburg PLLC, who represented the plaintiff.

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