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.

(WestlawNext users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

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.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

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.”

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.)

(more…)

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.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

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).

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

No coverage for policyholders accused of aiding kidnapping, California court says

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: A homeowners’ policy did not provide coverage for a couple defending a civil claim that they aided a friend in abducting her son from his father, a California appeals court has ruled.

Coverage did not apply because the insurance company established that none of the causes of action asserted against the policyholders alleged accidental conduct on their part, the 4th District Court of Appeal said in a June 6 opinion.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

Pennsylvania court upholds nearly $1 million asbestos verdict against Ford

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: A Pennsylvania couple’s nearly $1 million verdict against Ford Motor Co. in an asbestos suit will stand because the record showed the “general scientific legitimacy” of the “every exposure” theory, a state appeals court has ruled.

In Pennsylvania there is no “mandate that every judge, no matter what the record, reject the expert opinion of any expert that testifies there is no known threshold for a safe exposure to asbestos,” a three-judge panel of the state Superior Court said in a May 19 opinion.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

Judge orders, then stays, disclosure of sealed asbestos evidence to Ford

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: Ford Motor Co. continues to seek access to sealed evidence concerning the identities, medical histories and injury allegations of asbestos claimants in the Garlock Sealing Technologies bankruptcy after a federal judge ordered disclosure and then stayed his own ruling pending appeal.

In a May 7 decision, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge George R. Hodges of the Western District of North Carolina granted the asbestos personal injury claimants committee’s motion for an immediate stay of his May 6 ruling ordering disclosure.  Judge Hodges had agreed with Ford in his earlier opinion that the documents the automaker seeks, known as Rule 2019 filings, are public records.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

4th Circuit says asbestos suit against Colgate-Palmolive stays in state court

From Westlaw Journal Asbestos: Two women who say exposure to asbestos in Colgate-Palmolive Co.’s talcum powder caused them to develop mesothelioma can keep their lawsuit in state court because a federal court’s remand order is not appealable, a split panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled.

The dissenting judge said the defendant has a right to be in federal court because the plaintiffs’ counsel “concealed or otherwise obfuscated the information” Colgate could have used to defeat remand.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)

Insurer must defend bar over drunk patron’s death

From Westlaw Journal Insurance Coverage: A policy exclusion for liquor-related liabilities does not release an insurer from having to defend a bar against claims related to the accidental death of an intoxicated patron, a federal appeals court has ruled.

Because the complaint includes an allegation of liability under a theory of common-law negligence, the policy’s liquor-liability exclusion does not apply, a panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in an April 21 opinion.

(Westlaw users: Click here for the 10 most recent stories from Westlaw Journals.) (more…)