The Illinois Supreme Court has reversed the recent decision of the Illinois Appellate Court, First District, which had created unlimited tort liability for Illinois employers of asbestos plaintiffs. In Folta v. Ferro Engineering, 2015 IL 118070, released November 4, 2015, the Court held that it was the responsibility of the State Legislature, not the courts, to modify the language of the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Act, and restored the exclusive remedy defense to Illinois employers of asbestos plaintiffs. Ed Matushek had joined in an amicus brief filed in the Supreme Court on behalf of three of our employer-clients and we are pleased to report that their cooperation contributed to our success in overturning a very dangerous decision by the appellate court that had adopted the reasoning of the Pennsylvania courts in Tooey. Read More »
In Swasey v. Asbestos Companies, et al (RG15758585, Cal. Super. Ct., Alameda County, Sept. 21, 2015), five defendants, Hennessy Industries, Inc. (brake lathe manufacturer), Maremont Corp. (brake lining manufacturer), I.B. Benedict Co. (brake supplier), Metalclad Insulation Co. (steam pipe insulation) and Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., obtained a defense jury verdict in the Alameda County, California court. The plaintiff claimed that during his 50-year career he developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos fibers in automobile brakes and dust created from brake-grinding machines and construction materials. The evidence showed this was likely chrysotile asbestos. Read More »
In a victory for the asbestos defense bar, Randy Smith and Mike Martinez of Matushek Nilles LLC secured summary judgment for Brand Insulations, Inc. in the case of Rex Hill (Morgan County, Illinois; Case No. 13 L 21). Randy and Mike convinced Judge Christopher R. Reif to reject a novel attempt by the plaintiff to circumvent and nullify the effect of Folta v. Ferro Engineering by pursuing claims of secondary exposure between coworkers. Read More »
Dane County, Wisconsin Judge James R. Troupis recently ruled in favor of the motions drafted by Mike Martinez on behalf of Special Electric Company, Inc. and John Erato, its former President, and entered summary judgment in favor of these defendants. The court agreed with our argument that Erato’s resignation as president did not breach any duty owed to the plaintiffs, and that the statute of limitations barred any claim against Erato for a breach of fiduciary duty. We also persuaded the court that because Special Electric was dissolved by the State of Wisconsin on May 8, 2014, the court did not have the authority to reinstate the company. To do so would ignore the authority granted by the legislature to the Department of Financial Institutions as well as the Business Corporations Act. Alternatively, because Mr. Erato properly resigned, the court found that no one remained at Special Electric to be ordered to reinstate the company. Read More »
On September 18, 2013, the Fourth District Appellate Court of Illinois upheld the trial court’s granting of defendants’ motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict on plaintiff’s conspiracy claims in Gillenwater v. Honeywell et al, 2013 IL App (4th) 120929. Plaintiff Charles Gillenwater filed suit for his mesothelioma from asbestos exposure in McLean County, Illinois against defendants, Honeywell International, Inc., Owens-Illinois, Inc., and Pneumo Abex, LLC for civil conspiracy with one another to conceal the respiratory dangers of asbestos. Read More »
Governor Quinn signed Senate Bill 1912 (Public Act 98-0548) into law on August 26, 2013. The law (codified at 735 ILCS 5/2-2301) applies to all personal injury, property damage, wrongful death or other tort actions involving a claim for money damages, and requires that a settling defendant pay all sums due to the plaintiff within 30 days of the plaintiff’s tender of a release, which the defendant must tender to the plaintiff within 14 days of written confirmation of the settlement. If a settling defendant does not make full payment to the plaintiff within 30 days of the plaintiff’s tender of the release, then after a hearing, judgment shall be entered against the defendant for the amount set forth in the executed release, plus any costs incurred in obtaining the judgment and interest at the rate specified under Section 2-1303 of the Illinois Code (currently 9.0%). This may prove especially problematic to a defendant if Medicare liens remain unsatisfied.
To better serve our existing clients in Southern Illinois and Missouri, on September 4, 2012, we opened a branch office in Edwardsville, Illinois. This allows us to efficiently handle our cases in Madison County, Illinois and the Metro St. Louis area in Missouri. Located off Route 157, at 600 Country Club View, Suite 300, we are only minutes from the Madison County Courthouse, and a convenient drive to St. Louis City Court. Our branch office phone is 618-307-6005.
Judge Maddux granted our motion to dismiss hundreds of claims against Sprinkmann Insulation based on the lack of corporate successor liability for the torts of Sprinkmann Sons, whose assets had been purchased by our client. The Court flatly rejected the opinions of the plaintiffs’ expert that Sprinkmann Insulation, Inc. is a continuation or alter ego of Sprinkmann Sons Corp. of Illinois. This was an interesting attempt by the plaintiffs’ attorneys to reach the remaining insurance assets of the seller, a former asbestos insulation contractor, despite our earlier success in terminating litigation based on a corporate dissolution argument. If Judge Maddux had agreed with the plaintiffs, the effect of such a ruling would have been that the insurers of Sprinkmann Sons have unlimited asbestos liability and would be required to exhaust all policy limits, even though there was no bankruptcy of the insured.
On May 1, 2012, Judge Powers agreed with our position that the plaintiff failed to meet the requirements of the Thacker test enunciated by the Illinois Supreme Court, and entered summary judgment in favor of our client, a manufacturer of asbestos-containing pipe. The plaintiff, represented by Waters & Kraus, contended that his decedent, a chemical plant equipment operator in Channahon, Illinois, was exposed to asbestos fibers from a maintenance worker who sawed and grinded the chemical pipe five feet away on only one occasion. The court agreed with us that this was not a substantial factor in causing the decedent’s mesothelioma, and did not meet the “frequency and regularity” needed to show exposure in this case. Read More »