Category Archives: Court Rulings/Decisions

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Checking Out of Hotel California: The U.S. Supreme Court Holds That Plaintiffs Cannot Sue Companies Anywhere They Do Business

SPOT_LIT_ANTITRUST_iStock_000019159471_BW_x2On June 19, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court decided Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California (BMS), an action brought in California state court that included some non-California plaintiffs alleging injuries not suffered in California. The Supreme Court – for the second time this term – narrowed where plaintiffs can constitutionally sue companies. The … Continue Reading

Safe Crossing: The U.S. Supreme Court Gets State Courts on Track with Daimler

Chicago Metra TrainOn May 30, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its opinion in BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell (BNSF), another case that defines the constitutional limits of general personal jurisdiction over companies. The major issue in BNSF was whether a railroad company had a substantial enough presence in Montana for the Montana courts to assert general … Continue Reading

It’s a Federal Question: Can Defendants Remove Under the Grable Doctrine?

pillarsA Missouri federal court recently retained jurisdiction over state-law claims under the rarely used “Grable doctrine.” The doctrine arose from a 2005 U.S. Supreme Court case, and supports removal when (1) a plaintiff’s state-law claim raises a disputed and substantial federal question, and (2) removal would not disturb the balance between state and federal judicial … Continue Reading

It’s Not Personal: Companies Can’t Be Sued Everywhere

Facade of courthouse with columns.The highest courts in two states have made it more difficult for plaintiffs to sue companies in state courts of their choosing. The Oregon and Missouri Supreme Courts recently dismissed claims against companies for lack of jurisdiction where the companies were not incorporated or headquartered in the forum state, or were not sued because of … Continue Reading

Hotel California: Supreme Court Will Review Whether Plaintiffs Can Check in to California Courts from Afar

3D California State MapOn January 9, 2017, the United States Supreme Court granted review over a case from the California Supreme Court that could affect whether plaintiffs can bring product liability and mass tort claims in states where they don’t live and didn’t suffer an injury. In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, … Continue Reading

New York Court of Appeals Addresses the Duty to Warn

Museum piece. Asbestos has long been used in construction but we now know that asbestos dust is a cause of lung cancer.On June 28, 2016, the Court of Appeals decided the following question: Does a manufacturer have a duty to warn about asbestos-containing parts made by someone else but used with its non-asbestos product? The Court answered, “Sometimes,” under a relatively narrow set of circumstances. The plaintiff in Dummitt v. Crane Co., a Navy boiler technician … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Says Offering to Settle Cannot Moot Class Action Suits

SPOT_REAL ESTATE_iStock_000018815208_LargeLast week, the US Supreme Court ruled that an offer of judgment under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 68 made to the lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit, in addition to a separate free-standing settlement offer in the same amount, does not render the lawsuit moot. In Campbell-Ewald Co. v. Gomez, No. 14-857, 2016 … Continue Reading

Trial Victory for Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc.

iStock_000008525061_LargeOn November 10, 2015, a Charleston, West Virginia jury returned a unanimous verdict for defendant Dorel Juvenile Group, Inc., finding the company’s High Rise booster seat to be neither defective nor responsible for the death of a four-year-old child. Tragically, the child died from injuries sustained in a horrific, multiple-rollover accident that occurred on a … Continue Reading

Seventh Circuit Ruling On Scientific Evidence Closes Some Doors But Opens Others

SONY DSCExposure to potentially harmful substances at some level is a fact of modern life. These substances are everywhere — in the air we breathe, in the food we eat, and in the water we drink — and many of these substances are naturally occurring. It is impossible to have zero exposure to all of them. … Continue Reading

Fracking-Related Personal Injury Tort Claim Allowed to Proceed in Oklahoma Court

SONY DSCIn its June 30, 2015 opinion, Landra v. New Dominion, LLC, the Oklahoma Supreme Court held that a personal injury tort action alleging that fracking-related activity caused an earthquake that then caused the plaintiff’s injuries can proceed in an Oklahoma district court. The Oklahoma Supreme Court made no factual or legal findings with respect to … Continue Reading

No Injury? No Problem.

485017745The Supreme Court recently granted certiorari in Spokeo v. Robins, a case that has the potential to redefine standing in federal court. The Ninth Circuit’s February 2014 decision permitted plaintiff Thomas Robins to establish standing under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”) with nothing more than a speculative injury. This contravenes Supreme Court precedent, which … Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Opens the Door to a Federal Forum for Environmental Mass Torts

iStock_000031781574_LargeThe Ninth Circuit’s recent decision in Allen v. The Boeing Company may pave the way for removal of more mass tort claims to federal court. Allen held that an environmental mass tort occurring over many years is removable under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), finding the “local single event” rule did not apply. In … Continue Reading

Defense Wins Jury Verdict in Alleged Asbestos-Related Lung Cancer Case in Chicago

119781394On Friday afternoon, a jury in the Northern District of Illinois returned a verdict for defendants Owens-Illinois, Inc. and ExxonMobil, rejecting plaintiff Charles Krik’s claim that his lung cancer developed as a result of a “synergistic effect” between his alleged asbestos exposure and his cigarette smoking. The jury found, as argued by the defendants, that … Continue Reading

Illinois Court Adopts Bright Line Rule for Statute of Limitations in Wrongful Death Suit

Statue of Lady Justice (Justitia)In Moon v. Rhode, 2015 IL App (3d) 130613, the Illinois Appellate Court announced a bright line rule: a wrongful death action against a physician must be brought within two years of the knowledge of the death, regardless of when the executor learned of an allegedly wrongful cause.  The Court noted that a wrongful death … Continue Reading

Colgate-Palmolive Company Smacked with $13M Talc Verdict

iStock_000060693576_LargeOn Tuesday, a Los Angeles jury found that Colgate-Palmolive Company’s Cashmere Bouquet talcum powder caused plaintiff Judith Winkel’s mesothelioma. The jury awarded Mr. and Mrs. Winkel $13 million in damages, finding for plaintiffs on design defect, manufacturing defect, failure to warn, and negligence liability theories. Following the verdict, the parties reached a settlement before the … Continue Reading

Distribution Agreement Doesn’t Show Conspiracy Between Manufacturer and Distributor

iStock_000043710336_MediumConspiracy liability and other forms of vicarious liability are especially dangerous to manufacturers because of the risk of being held responsible for a product the company did not make or sell. Even when a company is in the chain of distribution, the prospect of being held responsible for another company’s conduct is daunting, especially when … Continue Reading

NY Judge Tosses Plaintiff’s Asbestos Causation Opinion

iStock_000021623262_Large“The times they are a-changin” wrote Bob Dylan in 1964. Is New York City – recently dubbed by the American Tort Reform Association the Number 1 “Judicial Hellhole” in large part because of its pro-plaintiff bent in asbestos litigation – “a-changin” too? First, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was indicted for various allegedly bad judgments in connection … Continue Reading

Schiff Hardin Lawyers Author ABA’s Annual Update of Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law

iStock_000046993926_MediumA team of Schiff Hardin attorneys compiled the chapter on “Recent Developments in Toxic Torts and Environmental Law” for the American Bar Association’s Tort Trial & Insurance Practice Law Journal published in the winter of 2015 (Vol. 50:2) on the evolving landscape of the environmental and toxic tort areas of law. The Schiff team was led by partners … Continue Reading

Supreme Court Declines to Weigh in on Generic Preemption

97429646The United States Supreme Court has decided not to review Pliva v. Huck, an Iowa Supreme Court decision that held federal law does not preempt failure to update claims against generic drug manufacturers. Pliva challenged the ruling on the ground such claims were covered under the federal preemption memorialized in the 2011 U.S. Supreme Court … Continue Reading

Spring Cleaning: Throwing Junk Science Where It Belongs

485017745Almost every day we are bombarded with reports of scientific studies purportedly proving that exposure to, or consumption of, some substance will cause us harm. Recent examples include claims that vaccines cause autism, BPA kills, and genetically modified foods engender disease. While there is little to no filter on what “science” is presented to the general … Continue Reading

The Rise of Issue Class Certification Presents New Risks For Mass Tort and Consumer Product Defendants

475084443Mass tort and consumer product class actions are on the rise as courts grow more willing to certify classes solely on the issue of liability. In the past, certification of such class actions was rare, because courts generally forced the named plaintiff to demonstrate that common issues predominated across an entire claim before any portion of … Continue Reading

Manufacturers Await Decision on Whether Federal Aviation Act Precludes Design Defect Claims

dv262005The Third Circuit Court of Appeals will soon be deciding an issue that could dramatically impact the liabilities aircraft product manufacturers may face.  Specifically, the court will address the question of whether a certificate issued by the FAA precludes design defect claims against aircraft product manufacturers.  The appeal stems from the U.S. District Court for the … Continue Reading

Generic Pharmaceutical Litigation Continues Amid Preemption Uncertainty

122524533Last week, the New Jersey Appellate Division added more uncertainty and unpredictability in generic pharmaceutical litigation when it allowed some failure to warn claims to proceed against generic providers of metoclopramide, a/k/a Reglan in the case of  In re: Reglan Litigation.   Most of plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed, but the Court allowed a claim based on an alleged failure to … Continue Reading