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ASBESTOS NEWS DAILY - Delaware Mesothelioma Lawyer
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Mesothelioma Asbestos inDelaware


 

We connect you with experienced Mesothelioma Asbestos lawyers inDelaware. If have been diagnosed with Mesothelioma or an Asbestos related illness we can help you file a claim.

Those diagnosed with Mesothelioma and other Asbestos related diseases inDelaware have legal options and may seek compensation through Mesothelioma litigation.

Filing a claim against the companies that are responsible for your asbestos exposure will help you gain compensation for medical costs and pain and suffering associated with asbestos-related illnesses. A Mesothelioma lawyer can help you pursue compensation for the following things:

  • Lost income
  • Medical bills
  • Group support for yourself and loved ones
  • End-of-life expenses

We help patients and their families make educated, informed decisions about how to proceed with filing Mesothelioma, Asbestosis and other asbestos-related cancer claims.

We will walk you through the entire process of connecting with an experiencedDelawareMesothelioma Lawyer and also help you find a qualified Mesothelioma doctor.

 
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Argentinians invoke 1853 treaty in Delaware asbestos suit
8/5/2009 9:45 AM By SteveKorris

WILMINGTON, Del. - Three men from Argentina accusingchemical maker DuPont of exposing them to asbestos in Argentina have invoked American jurisdiction pursuant to a treaty thatPresident Franklin Pierce signed in 1853.

The eighth article of the Treaty of Friendship, Commerce, and Navigation betweenArgentina and theUnited States promises free and open access to each other's courts.

Wilmington lawyer ThomasCrumplar seeks to test the strength of that pledge.

In June he suedDuPont inNew CastleCounty courthouse atWilmington on behalf ofCeferino Ramirez,CristianDematei and Juan CarlosLaborda.

According to the complaints they worked forDuPont atMercedes,Argentina.

According to the complaints Ramirez was born in 1932,DeMatei was born in 1973, andLaborda was born in 1940.

According to the complaints Ramirez worked at
Mercedes
from 1961 to 1993,DeMatei from 1991 to 2002, andLaborda from 1968 to 1980.

Crumplar wrote that recovery would be predicated on substantive law ofArgentina,Delaware, or both, "or such law as the court holds to be applicable."

Each complaint repeated the same allegations, and each repeated a sentence that started but never finished.

"Theseasbestos containing materials being used on the land of premises defendant of which the defendant knew or should have known and/or had reason, to know of, and had a duty under the circumstances to inspect, warn, make safe or otherwise remedy,"Crumplar wrote.

The complaints identified JoeSatterley ofLouisville,Ky., as "of counsel."

OtherArgentinians have already employed the treaty of 1853 to plant their flag in American courts.

http://www.madisonrecord.com/news/220396-argentinians-invoke-1853-treaty-in-delaware-asbestos-suit
 
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Delaware – Asbestos Company – Asbestos Bankruptcy Claims

 

Asbestos claims lead RPM Int'l units to bankruptcy

Tue Jun 1, 2010 11:42am EDT

 

* RPM units files for bankruptcy due to asbestos claims

* More than 10,000 asbestos lawsuits filed

* Shares of RPM slip 0.8 percent

By Tom Hals

WILMINGTON,Delaware., June 1 (Reuters) - Subsidiaries of RPM International Inc (RPM.N) filed for bankruptcy as the chemical company seeks to resolve thousands of asbestos-related lawsuits, according to court documents.

The parent company also asked the bankruptcy court for an injunction to prevent it from becoming a target of the plaintiffs who broughtasbestos lawsuits against the bankrupt subsidiaries, according to court documents filed on Monday.

The bankrupt subsidiaries, Specialty Products Holding Corp and Bondex International Inc, are planning to use Chapter 11 to establish a trust for the payment of asbestos-related claims.

Special Products Holding is a direct parent to operating companies that produce coatings and finishings, including DayGlo Color Corp, the world's largest producer of daylight florescent pigments.

The operating companies and RPM International are not part of the bankruptcy.

The two subsidiaries also want a permanent injunction from any further asbestos claims due to products they made or sold.

"This action has been taken to once and for all resolve the asbestos-related Bondex legacy liability," said Frank Sullivan, RPM's chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement.

Many of the alleged asbestosliabilities, that are at the heart of more than 10,000 lawsuits against the bankrupt subsidiaries, stem from Reardon Co, which was acquired in 1966. Reardon sold home patch and repair products that contained asbestos until 1977, and other products containing asbestos into the 1980s.

The bankrupt subsidiaries also sold other products containing asbestos until 1972.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that was once widely used in manufacturing. It has been banned by theU.S. government after it was proven to cause cancer, often in people who were exposed by breathing in asbestos particles.

The bankrupt subsidiaries had fiscal year 2009 revenues of $329 million and $19 million of pretax income, which is less than 11 percent of RPM's consolidated total.

Until 2003, insurance covered 90 percent of the asbestos-related costs, according to court documents. Since then, insurers have claimed exhaustion and stopped making payments.

In 2005 to 2009, the bankrupt subsidiaries have incurred asbestos costs between $60 million and $82 million annually.

Asbestos-related claims have forced many companies into bankruptcy.

Specialty chemical makers W.R. Grace & Co (GRA.N), for example, has been operating in Chapter 11 since 2001. Babcock & Wilcox used bankruptcy to establish an asbestos trust that has been accepting claims since 2006.

Several attorneys who have brought lawsuits against Bondex did not immediately return calls for comment.

Shares of RPM International were down 0.8 percent at $19.66 in late morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

The case is In re Specialty Products Holding Corp, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware, No. 10-11780. (Reporting by Tom Hals; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSN0111516220100601

 
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New York – Asbestos Litigation – Rise in Asbestos Cases

Delaware, California new prime targets for asbestos plaintiffs
4/30/2009 12:30 PM By Staff Reports 

During a recent interview with a reporter, Lester Brickman recalled an old television western from days gone by called "Have Gun-Will Travel."

"The main character was named Paladin and his logo was 'have gun-will travel,'" Brickman recalled. "It would start with a little ditty and the title and such. Well, that's kind of like the plaintiffs' lawyers logo now. 'Have case-Will travel. We will go wherever we have the friendliest courts, laws and juries.'"

The assessment, coming as it did from Brickman, is particularly relevant in the aftermath of the Nolan v. Weil-McLain decision by the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this month.

Brickman is a law professor at the prestigious Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law inNew York and is widely recognized as the foremostasbestos litigation scholar in the country.

Though the ripples from the splash in the Nolan case will roll across asbestos litigation for years to come, many legal professionals expect it to, at the veryleast, dent the reputation of plaintiff friendly jurisdictions inIllinois, such asMadisonCounty.

Some, likeChicago defense attorney EdwardMcCambridge who was the prime mover on the Nolan case, believe the decision could likely have plaintiffs' lawyers in search ofa other locations.

"It will definitely makeIllinois not as attractive as it once was,"McCambridge said of the Nolan ruling. "There is no questionIllinois loses that stigma. I would suspect people might choose other venues."

Brickman said the full impact remains to be seen, but he suspects the ready-to-travel asbestos plaintiffs' lawyers will not hesitate to move if necessary. Just as tort reform legislation radically slowed many states that were once home to thousands upon thousands of asbestos cases, the latest rulings could again force a shift, he said.

"Having lost the friendly venues inTexas andMississippi, they are already looking for other venues," Brickman said. "They have planted a flag inDelaware, where Vice President Joe Biden's son is involved in attempting to makeDelaware a friendly court for asbestos cases. Another isSouthern California where there is a rise in asbestos cases."

As legal landscape shifts inIllinois,Delaware andCalifornia will continue their recent growth in the number of cases filed. But just as each state has its own unique appeal,Illinois, even in the aftermath of the Nolanruling, is not likely to lose its luster as a preferred venue for asbestos lawsuits.

Go West (or East)

The Nolan case caused a tremor through Illinois asbestos dockets because it in essence reversed the so-calledLipke Rule that prevented defendants in asbestos cases from introducing evidence of the plaintiff's other exposure related to other defendants who previously settled the case.

As David Holmes and Anthony MichaelGoldner, attorneys at theChicago firm of WilsonElser, explained, "Illinois was the only state in the country to have had a rule with a blanket prohibition against all evidence pertaining to the negligence of non-parties."

Defense attorneys likeMcCambridge andGoldner say the ruling will encourage more defendants to avoid settling a case and take their chances in trial.McCambridge said the possibility of a trial alone may be enough to send plaintiffs' attorneys on the move in search of a friendlier venue.

As Brickman mentioned,Delaware has emerged in recent years as a very popular venue, particularly since Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden took office.

A USA Today story in 2008 noted that the younger Biden was a partner in a Delaware law firm "that was filing asbestos lawsuits and seeking to develop a specialty in that area," at the same time his father, then a Delaware senator worked to kill a "bipartisan bill designed to curb asbestos lawsuits," according to the report.

TheBidens' campaign accounts have benefited from large donations by trial lawyers and their related political action committees. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, employees at three law firms that specialize in asbestos litigation were among Beau Biden's top 10 all-time contributors.

In addition toDelaware's loyal Democratic Party voting base and liberal courts, the state is attractive to plaintiffs' attorneys because of attractive corporation laws. Most major companies have an office inDelaware, which makes it almost impossible for defense attorneys to challenge the convenience of the venue.

California has its own unique attractions for plaintiffs, most notably its liberal civil courts that give plaintiffs a generous home-field advantage. Civil Justice Association of California has sponsored legislation in recent years designed to balance the scales for defendants in court. Despite some victories, Executive Director John Sullivan said the courts have made the state one of the least attractive in the country for businesses.

During the state's recent budget woes in which the deficit topped $40 billion and the state controller began issuing IOUs instead of payments, Sullivan urged the governor and the Legislature to adopt tort reform in the hopes of stemming the tide of lawsuit-weary businesses fleeing the state and taking their jobs with them.

"As economic conditions improve, companies will have the opportunity to decide whether to restore jobs here or elsewhere," Sullivan said. "Legislators should stop our litigation climate from blocking the sunshine of jobs and paychecks for thousands of Californians."

In addition to the political environment, recent legal rulings have opened the door to new asbestos lawsuits. In a 2005 case, Kinsman v. Unocal, the California Supreme Court tore down the barrier for independent contractors to sue in premise liability cases. Prior to that decision,California businesses had been able to avoid liability by establishing that they did not retain control over the safety conditions of the work done by independent contractors, according to a report in Los Angeles Lawyer.

"Premise defendants now face an expanded analysis when assessing their potential liability in asbestos actions," the story reported.

The comforts of home

While plaintiffs' lawyers will surely continue to increase the number of cases filed in places like Delaware and California, Illinois still offers certain advantages that could outweigh the defeat of theLipke Rule, specifically in premise liability cases like those now increasing in California.

Brickman called premise liability a "growth area" for plaintiffs' lawyers.

"The premises cases are a growth area -- trying to sue the premises owners for people who worked or used the premises and could attribute their illness to the exposure of the premises. That's an expanding area," he said.

As Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein pointed out, premise liability cases have greatly widened the pool of defendants by including any building where asbestos exposure might have been possible.

With many of the prominent users of asbestos bankrupt from hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed in the 1980s and 1990s, Epstein said plaintiff attorneys have widened the circle of those they can sue.

"Background conditions are surely being treated as though they were industrially caused," Epstein said. "Standard workers compensation law holds that occupational diseases have to be distinguished from diseases of life. Everyone has some gunk accumulated from living, and if all this is attributable to the named defendants, everyone is a plaintiff, so that the industrial connection is lost, which means that no one is ever safe."

Premise liability lawsuits that use these "background conditions" for the basis of their case, can benefit fromIllinois joint-and-several liability laws, which in essence make all defendants found to be liable, wholly liable for the settlement. So in cases where several companies settle, those who go to court remain 100 percent liable even if the amount of exposure is minimal compared to others who already settled or are already bankrupt.

"As the circle goes wider, there are more people in each circle so thatjoinder becomes more critical, as does the rule that anyone who is responsible for one iota is responsible for the whole loss if others are insolvent," Epstein said.

Defense attorneys have argued in court that such cases have served to create a situation of "limitless liability" in some states. But thereinlies the rub for scholars like Brickman, who point to the verifiable limited number of people who become ill because of asbestos exposure.

"You have somewhere around 1,800 to 2,000 people a year who contractmesothelioma," Brickman said. "Medical science indicates that at least 20 percent of themesothelioma cases do not have a record of asbestos exposure."

Despite those limits, asbestos lawsuits show no sign of slowing anytime soon. Lawyers have their cases, and they will travel, if necessary to find a favorable venue for a settlement of a jury award. Just how much they have to travel will likely be determined in the future, according toMcCambridge.

"The key to this whole thing is it changes the nature of asbestos trials,"McCambridge said of the Nolan ruling. "It seems really kind of basic, but it does change the nature of the way a case is tried inIllinois. It will take a while to sort out how judges will deal with this, because they aren't used to dealing with it. But I think it will have a real impact on how cases proceed from now on."

 

http://www.madisonrecord.com/news/218752-delaware-california-new-prime-targets-for-asbestos-plaintiffs

 
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Delaware – Asbestos Litigation – Rise in Asbestos Cases

Delaware, California new prime targets for asbestos plaintiffs
4/30/2009 12:30 PM By Staff Reports 

During a recent interview with a reporter, Lester Brickman recalled an old television western from days gone by called "Have Gun-Will Travel."

"The main character was named Paladin and his logo was 'have gun-will travel,'" Brickman recalled. "It would start with a little ditty and the title and such. Well, that's kind of like the plaintiffs' lawyers logo now. 'Have case-Will travel. We will go wherever we have the friendliest courts, laws and juries.'"

The assessment, coming as it did from Brickman, is particularly relevant in the aftermath of the Nolan v. Weil-McLain decision by the Illinois Supreme Court earlier this month.

Brickman is a law professor at the prestigious Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law inNew York and is widely recognized as the foremostasbestos litigation scholar in the country.

Though the ripples from the splash in the Nolan case will roll across asbestos litigation for years to come, many legal professionals expect it to, at the veryleast, dent the reputation of plaintiff friendly jurisdictions inIllinois, such asMadisonCounty.

Some, likeChicago defense attorney EdwardMcCambridge who was the prime mover on the Nolan case, believe the decision could likely have plaintiffs' lawyers in search ofa other locations.

"It will definitely makeIllinois not as attractive as it once was,"McCambridge said of the Nolan ruling. "There is no questionIllinois loses that stigma. I would suspect people might choose other venues."

Brickman said the full impact remains to be seen, but he suspects the ready-to-travel asbestos plaintiffs' lawyers will not hesitate to move if necessary. Just as tort reform legislation radically slowed many states that were once home to thousands upon thousands of asbestos cases, the latest rulings could again force a shift, he said.

"Having lost the friendly venues inTexas andMississippi, they are already looking for other venues," Brickman said. "They have planted a flag inDelaware, where Vice President Joe Biden's son is involved in attempting to makeDelaware a friendly court for asbestos cases. Another isSouthern California where there is a rise in asbestos cases."

As legal landscape shifts inIllinois,DelawareandCalifornia will continue their recent growth in the number of cases filed. But just as each state has its own unique appeal,Illinois, even in the aftermath of the Nolanruling, is not likely to lose its luster as a preferred venue for asbestos lawsuits.

Go West (or East)

The Nolan case caused a tremor through Illinois asbestos dockets because it in essence reversed the so-calledLipke Rule that prevented defendants in asbestos cases from introducing evidence of the plaintiff's other exposure related to other defendants who previously settled the case.

As David Holmes and Anthony MichaelGoldner, attorneys at theChicago firm of WilsonElser, explained, "Illinois was the only state in the country to have had a rule with a blanket prohibition against all evidence pertaining to the negligence of non-parties."

Defense attorneys likeMcCambridge andGoldner say the ruling will encourage more defendants to avoid settling a case and take their chances in trial.McCambridge said the possibility of a trial alone may be enough to send plaintiffs' attorneys on the move in search of a friendlier venue.

As Brickman mentioned,Delaware has emerged in recent years as a very popular venue, particularly since Democratic Attorney General Beau Biden took office.

A USA Today story in 2008 noted that the younger Biden was a partner in aDelaware law firm "that was filing asbestos lawsuits and seeking to develop a specialty in that area," at the same time his father, then aDelaware senator worked to kill a "bipartisan bill designed to curbasbestos lawsuits," according to the report.

TheBidens' campaign accounts have benefited from large donations by trial lawyers and their related political action committees. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, employees at three law firms that specialize in asbestos litigation were among Beau Biden's top 10 all-time contributors.

In addition toDelaware's loyal Democratic Party voting base and liberal courts, the state is attractive to plaintiffs' attorneys because of attractive corporation laws. Most major companies have an office inDelaware, which makes it almost impossible for defense attorneys to challenge the convenience of the venue.

California has its own unique attractions for plaintiffs, most notably its liberal civil courts that give plaintiffs a generous home-field advantage. Civil Justice Association of California has sponsored legislation in recent years designed to balance the scales for defendants in court. Despite some victories, Executive Director John Sullivan said the courts have made the state one of the least attractive in the country for businesses.

During the state's recent budget woes in which the deficit topped $40 billion and the state controller began issuing IOUs instead of payments, Sullivan urged the governor and the Legislature to adopt tort reform in the hopes of stemming the tide of lawsuit-weary businesses fleeing the state and taking their jobs with them.

"As economic conditions improve, companies will have the opportunity to decide whether to restore jobs here or elsewhere," Sullivan said. "Legislators should stop our litigation climate from blocking the sunshine of jobs and paychecks for thousands of Californians."

In addition to the political environment, recent legal rulings have opened the door to new asbestos lawsuits. In a 2005 case, Kinsman v. Unocal, the California Supreme Court tore down the barrier for independent contractors to sue in premise liability cases. Prior to that decision,California businesses had been able to avoid liability by establishing that they did not retain control over the safety conditions of the work done by independent contractors, according to a report in Los Angeles Lawyer.

"Premise defendants now face an expanded analysis when assessing their potential liability in asbestos actions," the story reported.

The comforts of home

While plaintiffs' lawyers will surely continue to increase the number of cases filed in places likeDelawareand California, Illinois still offers certain advantages that could outweigh the defeat of theLipke Rule, specifically in premise liability cases like those now increasing in California.

Brickman called premise liability a "growth area" for plaintiffs' lawyers.

"The premises cases are a growth area -- trying to sue the premises owners for people who worked or used the premises and could attribute their illness to the exposure of the premises. That's an expanding area," he said.

As Chicago Law Professor Richard Epstein pointed out, premise liability cases have greatly widened the pool of defendants by including any building where asbestos exposure might have been possible.

With many of the prominent users of asbestos bankrupt from hundreds of thousands of lawsuits filed in the 1980s and 1990s, Epstein said plaintiff attorneys have widened the circle of those they can sue.

"Background conditions are surely being treated as though they were industrially caused," Epstein said. "Standard workers compensation law holds that occupational diseases have to be distinguished from diseases of life. Everyone has some gunk accumulated from living, and if all this is attributable to the named defendants, everyone is a plaintiff, so that the industrial connection is lost, which means that no one is ever safe."

Premise liability lawsuits that use these "background conditions" for the basis of their case, can benefit fromIllinois joint-and-several liability laws, which in essence make all defendants found to be liable, wholly liable for the settlement. So in cases where several companies settle, those who go to court remain 100 percent liable even if the amount of exposure is minimal compared to others who already settled or are already bankrupt.

"As the circle goes wider, there are more people in each circle so thatjoinder becomes more critical, as does the rule that anyone who is responsible for one iota is responsible for the whole loss if others are insolvent," Epstein said.

Defense attorneys have argued in court that such cases have served to create a situation of "limitless liability" in some states. But thereinlies the rub for scholars like Brickman, who point to the verifiable limited number of people who become ill because of asbestos exposure.

"You have somewhere around 1,800 to 2,000 people a year who contractmesothelioma," Brickman said. "Medical science indicates that at least 20 percent of themesothelioma cases do not have a record of asbestos exposure."

Despite those limits, asbestos lawsuits show no sign of slowing anytime soon. Lawyers have their cases, and they will travel, if necessary to find a favorable venue for a settlement of a jury award. Just how much they have to travel will likely be determined in the future, according toMcCambridge.

"The key to this whole thing is it changes the nature of asbestos trials,"McCambridge said of the Nolan ruling. "It seems really kind of basic, but it does change the nature of the way a case is tried inIllinois. It will take a while to sort out how judges will deal with this, because they aren't used to dealing with it. But I think it will have a real impact on how cases proceed from now on."

 

http://www.madisonrecord.com/news/218752-delaware-california-new-prime-targets-for-asbestos-plaintiffs

 

 
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Delaware– Asbestos Trades –Asbestos Mesothelioma Lawsuit

'Take home' liability could mean limitless liability for asbestos defendants
3/20/2009 12:28 PM By Staff Reports 

During a recent gathering of asbestos legal professionals, aBeverly Hills conference focused on one central theme in emerging litigation trends: a new generation of problems -- connected to the last -- will mean a new wave of cases against a new slate of defendants.

With more than three decades past since the peak of asbestos manufacturing and use in theU.S., the focus of lawsuits has shifted to what is often called "secondary exposure cases." These cases are filed on behalf of a new slate of plaintiffs, many a generation removed from those that comprised the height ofasbestos litigation in the late 1990s when hundreds of thousands of cases were filed each year.

Likewise, the defendants include new businesses, most at least a step removed from the manufacturers, shipyards and refineries already forced into bankruptcy under the weight of billions paid in legal settlements.

With many of the first wave of plaintiffs deceased, and the businesses they sued bankrupt, it is no surprise the vast industry of asbestos lawyers would now be uncovering new cases along previously un-trod trails.

One such trail emerging as a potential highway of asbestos cases is take home liability cases. Commonly, these plaintiffs include everyone from children and spouses of those who worked around asbestos, babysitters who entered the employee's home, or independent contractors who worked with products containing asbestos.

Texas plaintiff attorneyShepard Hoffman described one form of take home liability extending "to those who regularly and repeatedly came in to contact with employees' work clothing consistently over a period of time."

New York attorney JohnCanoni said defendants in these cases have taken notice, raising in court their serious concern over the "specter of limitless liability."

New cases, new plaintiffs

The legal war over how courts will interpret the limits and legal responsibility in take home liability cases is now pitched in state-by-state battles. Some states, likeWashington,Tennessee,New Jersey andLouisiana have ruled that companies have a duty to protect and warn those who may become exposed to asbestos beyond their own employees, according toChicago defense attorney Jonathon Lively.

Others, notably,New York,Georgia,Kentucky,Texas,Michigan andDelaware have ruled against such duty. Many states, includingIllinois - and in whichMadisonCounty continues to be one of the larger asbestos dockets in the country -- are still hearing the cases that will determine the eventual legal precedence.

The cases that are setting the stage offer a glimpse into the next generation of clients.

"The housewife is the number one occupation listed for those now contractingmesothelioma,"West Virginia plaintiff attorney AnneKearse said.

ATennessee case involved a woman who died at the age of 24 after being exposed to asbestos from her father's work clothes. The woman was born premature and spent three months in the hospital where her father would come and hold her every day on his way home from work,Lively said.

Another case involves a plaintiff who was exposed to asbestos as a child from wrestling around with his father after work.

Canoni cited one of the most recent cases, a ruling from theDelaware Supreme Court earlier this month. Lillian Riedel sued ICI Americas, Inc., her husband's employer for nearly 30 years, for failing to warn her of thedangers of asbestos exposure from her husband's clothing.

"Does the employer owe a duty of care to the injured party who they may or may not have ever known, nor ever employed?"Canoni said.

According to court documents, the court ruled against Riedel, grantingICI's request for summary judgment "on the basis that ICI and Mrs. Riedel did not share a legally significant relationship that would create a duty ICI owed to her."

But that legal victory of the defense inDelaware is offset by plaintiff victories along similar lines in other states, notablyWashington.

Lawyers G. William Shaw and Michael K. Ryan wrote, "In a pair of closely watched asbestos cases, theWashington Court of Appeals on January 29, 2007 greatly expanded the duty to warn in asbestos cases."

The twin rulings in favor of plaintiffs found that a product manufacturer whose products do not include any asbestos is still responsible for exposure if the normal use of the product would cause them to become exposed from another source.

The court ruling "may have a direct impact on defendant manufacturers whose products may have required the use of asbestos-containing products to function properly," they wrote, which in turn, greatly expands the company's duty to warn about the exposure to asbestos. The ruling also greatly increases the pool of defendants that can be named inWashington asbestos cases.

Potential liability in states where duty to warn is expanded could soon extend to babysitters, school teachers and neighbors who could have been exposed by someone who worked around asbestos, according to asbestos conference presenters. The number of businesses who could be sued in asbestos cases is also greatly expanded, even to the point of including "mom and pop stores," one presenter at the conference said.

The cases with extended duty to warn are cropping up in asbestos dockets across the country. A brief review of cases filed recently inMadisonCounty, shows the subtle shift to the next generation of plaintiffs.

For example, among the 13 cases filed inMadisonCounty in a single week in February, few are direct lawsuits on behalf of a sick worker suing a former employer. One such example involves a lawsuit filed by Christine Warner ofTennessee on behalf of her mother who developedmesothelioma during her work as a seamstress at House of Fashions inMemphis for more than 30 years.

But most are less specific as to when and where the person was exposed to asbestos, likely built on duty to warn case law.

Pat Montgomery ofKentucky claims he developedmesothelioma after helping his father on the family farm for six years during the 1950s. AnIllinois woman claimed in her suit filed inMadisonCounty that she developedmesothelioma after being exposed through her husband.

Defending the case

The most important steps in defending against take home liability often occur early on in how the case is framed by the courts, according to Lively. The duty to warn is often determined by whether the court sees the case as one of misfeasance, poor action to warn, or nonfeasance, no action to warn.

"How a case gets framed in front of the court is going to greatly determine how it is going to end up," Lively said during the asbestos conference.

TheDelaware ruling involving Lillian Riedel, Lively said, was an example of the court assessing the failure to warn as nonfeasance, essentially ruling they had no duty to warn her of the potential exposure from her husband's work clothes.

Other cases where courts have ruled the company had a duty to warn and acted poorly to do so have led to plaintiff victories, the case of the 24-year-old woman fromTennessee for example,Lively said.

The outcomes of these cases differ greatly from state to state.

Hoffman said that despite the changing nature of the cases, juries still focus on the plaintiff and the harm done to them.

"Juries want to find a way to help out a family," he said, arguing that plaintiff attorneys must simply show the "contributing factors to a person contractingmesothelioma," and "the basis to hold the initiating company responsible."

Companies knew the dangers of asbestos, even on clothing leaving the plant for decades, Hoffman said, citing examples of safety measures that were commonplace.

"A study in 1913 discusses worker safety, of the need for lockers and showers and a change of clothes for workers before going home," Hoffman said.

While defense attorneys often point to 1972, when OSHA issued protocols to be followed regarding asbestos exposure,Kearse said that premise can be challenged in court.

"There's a lot of information out before OSHA,"Kearse said, starting with a report in 1937 that talks about safety policies related to asbestos.

"It was known and knowable how dangerous this was to work with," she said. "West Virginia had regulations in place since 1951, but it was rarely followed, if at all."

http://www.madisonrecord.com/news/218036-take-home-liability-could-mean-limitless-liability-for-asbestos-defendants

 
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