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Asbestos Litigation Archives

MacDonald Law Group Attorneys Recognized by Maryland Super Lawyers!

MacDonald Law Group Attorneys, Neil J. MacDonald and Maria E. Flaks are recognized in the January 2019 edition of Maryland's Super Lawyers magazine. Mr. MacDonald is designated a "Super Lawyer" in the primary practice field of product liability defense. Ms. Flaks is honored as a "Rising Star", also in the area of product liability defense. Thomson Reuters publishes this annual directory of outstanding lawyers who meet certain requirements for professional achievement and who have attained recognition by their peers. Only 5% of attorneys in Maryland receive this distinction. Congratulations to MacDonald Law Group's honorees! 

Estate of Concetta Schatz v. John Crane, Inc. - Maryland Intermediate Appellate Court Holds Maryland Imposes No Duty on a Manufacturer to Warn a Household Member of a Worker Who Used the Manufacturer's Product

The case involved a mesothelioma claim brought by the estate of Concetta Schatz against John Crane, Inc. (hereinafter "JCI") (other defendants had been sued but had been dismissed or had resolved before trial). The estate claimed that Mrs. Schatz developed mesothelioma as a result of washing her husband's clothing.  Her husband, William Schatz, was employed as a mechanic, working on turbines and boilers at a power plant and, during the course of working on boilers, Mr. Schatz routinely replaced the rope packing around the various doors and openings in the boilers.  Mr. Schatz and the other repairmen replaced the damaged packing with JCI rope, creating dust in the process.  Further evidence showed that, from 1930 until 1985, JCI's rope contained sixty percent chrysotile asbestos.  Mr. Schatz took his dirty work clothes home for his wife to wash and, approximately every other day, Mrs. Schatz would shake out the work clothes and wash them, breathing in dust as she did so.  Trial proceeded before a jury but, at the conclusion of all the evidence, the court granted JCI's motion for judgment, holding that JCI did not owe a duty to Mrs. Schatz.  

Quisenberry v. Huntington Ingalls Incorporated - Virginia Supreme Court Recognizes a Duty for an Employer to Family Members of Employees in Take Home Asbestos Exposure Cases

In Quisenberry v. Huntington Ingalls Inc., the Virginia Supreme Court answered certified questions of law from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, and, in doing so, found that there is a legal duty in Virginia, imposed upon employers, owed to family members of its employees in take-home asbestos exposure cases.  The decision was a split decision with four Justices voting with the majority, and three Justices dissenting.  The majority found the existence of a duty despite acknowledging that the employer and the family member of the employee were, "generally speaking, strangers under the law."

Air & Liquid Systems v. DeVries: U.S. Supreme Court Hears Oral Argument on Bare Metal Defense Under Maritime Law

As the ultimate authority on general maritime law, the U.S. Supreme Court heard oral argument today on a matter involving basic tort principles most often evaluated at the state court level. In Air & Liquid Systems v. DeVries, the parties presented argument on whether a manufacturer may be liable for injuries caused by a product manufactured by a third-party. The petitioners are comprised of pump, turbine, and boiler manufacturers whose equipment was installed for use on Navy ships. The respondents are the widows of Navy sailors who are alleged to have developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos onboard Navy ships. Given the injuries occurred at sea and outside any specific state, maritime law was applied. 

"Special Inactive Bankruptcy Docket" Established In Baltimore for Asbestos Cases in Which Only Bankrupt Defendants Remain

Litigation over personal injuries and wrongful death claims alleged to have been attributable to asbestos exposure has endured over the past forty years. Millions of dollars have been paid out to plaintiffs, leading many companies with significant liabilities to file for bankruptcy. Bankruptcy trusts have thus been established for claimants to seek recovery from these entities. The question of how to handle lawsuits in which all remaining defendants are bankrupt has been recently addressed in Maryland. 

Maryland Court of Special Appeals Affirms Jury Verdict Against Asbestos Installer Even Absent Direct Evidence That Installer Used Asbestos-Containing Materials at a Particular Site

In Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust v. Busch, a decision released on September 26, 2018 by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, the state's intermediate appellate court affirmed the jury verdict entered in favor of the Estate of William Busch, Jr. against Wallace & Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust ("Wallace & Gale"), finding that Mr. Busch developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing insulation products installed by Wallace & Gale during the construction of Loch Raven High School ("LRHS").

Challenging personal jurisdiction in Maryland asbestos litigation following recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions

Recent U.S. Supreme Court opinions limiting personal jurisdiction have been met with enthusiasm by defendants in asbestos litigation where forum shopping by plaintiffs' counsel is common and defendants are sued in massive amounts of cases in multiple jurisdictions. Baltimore City, for example, ranked second in 2017 in total annual asbestos claim filings in the United States, only behind Madison County, Illinois. Asbestos Litigation: 2017 Year in Review, KCIC Industry Report (2018). Indeed, the issue of a so-called backlog of an estimated 30,000 asbestos cases and how to address them has been an issue plaguing Maryland courts and legislators. See, O'Brien, John, "Baltimore Backlog: Angelos Firm Not Pursuing Trials for Asbestos Clients, Lawmakers Told," Forbes (October 17, 2017).

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MacDonald Law Group, LLC

MacDonald Law Group, LLC
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