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 »
On April 3, 2012, the Supreme Court of Ohio reversed the appellate court decision that had ruled that Judges Hanna and Spellacy were correct in denying our motion to dismiss Sager Corporation, a dissolved Illinois corporation, in which we had argued that a dissolved foreign corporation was no longer amenable to asbestos suits in Ohio. The Supreme Court of Ohio agreed with our position that the law of the state of incorporation controls and must be afforded full faith and credit, and concluded that asbestos claims filed against an Illinois corporation more than five years after dissolution are barred. We had previously eliminated all pending claims against Sager in Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania, based on the Illinois corporate dissolution defense, and this ruling keeps our record intact as we proceed across the country in the effort to eliminate all claims against this insured. Read More »
On March 29, 2012, Madison County Associate Judge Clarence Harrison entered an order terminating the court’s 2013 advance setting of asbestos trial weeks. “The Court finds no continuing need for the pre-assignment of trial settings.” The order is effective immediately. The standard jury trial week calendar will be used going forward, and cases will be set by motion on a case-by-case basis. Read More »
The Illinois Supreme Court issued its opinion on March 22, 2012 in the Simpkins case involving take-home exposure to asbestos. Simpkins v. CSX Transportation, 2012 IL 110662. The majority affirmed the Fifth District Appellate Court’s reversal of the Madison County trial court’s dismissal with prejudice, but on different grounds – it held that insufficient facts were alleged in the complaint to state a duty and remanded to allow the plaintiff to re-plead. Read More »
The Illinois Appellate Court issued its opinion March 1, 2012 on the issue of whether or not volunteered flight instruction of a pilot constituted “educational malpractice” and therefore should not be a viable cause of action in Illinois. Waugh v. Morgan Stanley, et al., 2012 IL App (1st) 102653 (PDF link opens in a new window). The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s sweeping decision that granted summary judgment on every negligence claim that used the term “instruct” or “train.” Justice Pucinski wrote a dissent, agreeing with our position that claims of ordinary negligence were improperly miscategorized as “educational malpractice,” and stated a question of fact remained that warrants reversal.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled on June 23, 2011 that generic drug companies cannot be sued under state law over allegations that they failed to provide adequate label warnings about potential side effects. By a 5-4 vote, the justices ruled in favor of Israel’s Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Mylan Inc.’s UDL Laboratories and Iceland-based Actavis Inc. by overturning U.S. appeals court rulings that allowed such lawsuits.
The companies argued that federal law barred such lawsuits because the drug had been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Federal law requires generic drugs to have the same labels as their brand name equivalents. Justice Clarence Thomas in the court’s majority opinion agreed. He said federal drug regulations applicable to generic drug manufacturers directly conflicted with and thus pre-empted state lawsuits.
In a 6-0 decision, the Illinois Supreme Court ruled on March 24, 2011 that punitive damages cannot be awarded under the Nursing Home Care Act (NHCA). The issue in Thomas Vincent v. Alden-Park Strathmoor, Inc. , No. 110406, was whether punitive damages can be awarded in death cases under the Nursing Home Care Act. Generally, a plaintiff’s right to recover punitive damages expires upon the death of the plaintiff, but the Trial Bar was seeking to make an exception under the NHCA. Read More »
On January 26, 2011, Judge Crowder entered a new Case Management Order governing asbestos litigation in Madison County, the first comprehensive change in seven years. Plaintiffs’ firms are now limited to 19 cases per trial slot. (Previously the limit was 24 cases.) For an analysis of the changes affecting the defense of these cases, or if you would like to receive a copy of the order, contact Ed Matushek.
In affirming the entry of summary judgment we obtained on behalf of our client, the Illinois Appellate Court rejected an asbestos plaintiff’s attempt to extend a duty in a premises liability case to a person who had no contact with the premises, but claimed injury from household exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on work clothes worn by a worker at our client’s premises. Nelson v. Aurora Equipment Company, 909 N.E.2d 931 (2d Dist. 2009). Read More »