Aguirre v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 901 F.2d 1256 (5th Cir. 1990)

In this case, a group of Texas workers sued the defendant, Celotex Corporation. The workers had been exposed to products containing asbestos that were manufactured by the Philip Care Company, the predecessor corporation of the defendant. Afterward, they developed asbestos-related diseases. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit affirmed the judgment, which included an award of punitive damages, in favor of the workers.

Bickel v. Burkhart, 632 F.2d 1251 (5th Cir. 1980)

This was an employment rights case involving a municipal fireman who had criticized his fire department at a departmental meeting. The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit ruled that the fireman was denied a promotion as a result of his criticism, which the court deemed constitutionally protected speech.

Edwards v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 911 F.2d 1151 (5th Cir. 1990)

The United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit allowed a judgment to stand involving an insulator who had suffered from asbestosis. The court held that the insulator should receive punitive damages from the defendant, Celotex Corporation. The corporation, the court ruled, was responsible for the acts of its predecessor corporation (The Philip Care Company), which had manufactured products containing asbestos. In addition, the court held that Celotex’s constitutional rights were not violated by the award of punitive damages – even though the corporation had previously been ordered to pay punitive damages in other cases involving the predecessor company’s same conduct.

Freier v. Westinghouse Electric Co., 303 F.3d 176 (2d Cir. 2002)

In this case, the plaintiffs, as well as their decedents, attributed various forms of cancer they were suffering from to hazardous substances at an area landfill to which they had been exposed. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed summary judgment on statute of limitations grounds. The court held  that the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA) section providing for discovery of the injury and its cause applied to the case, and that the previous summary judgment was improper due to fact issues.

Goad v. Celotex Corp., 831 F.2d 508 (4th Cir. 1987), cert. denied, 487 U.S. 1218 (1988)

Mesothelioma lawyers with Baron & Budd, working together with civil procedure expert Charles Alan Wright, were able to convince the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that the application of a favorable statute of limitations to the plaintiff’s case did not violate the Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause.

In re Temple, 851 F.2d 1269 (11th Cir. 1988)

The United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit ordered a trial court to vacate its order certifying a mandatory class action. The court held that the class certification violated asbestos victims’ due process rights and that the class did not satisfy the requirements of Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Irving v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., 864 F.2d 383 (5th Cir. [Tex.] 1989), cert. denied, 493 U.S. 823, 110 S.Ct. 83, 107 L.Ed.2d 49 (1989)

This case involved a Yugoslavian company that had harmed more than 100 workers at a Houston manufacturing plant by shipping raw asbestos into the U.S. The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit held the the trial court had jurisdiction over the company.

McCleary v. Armstrong World Industries, Inc., 913 F.2d 257 (5th Cir. 1990)

The victim of an asbestos disease and his wife received a substantial judgment, and the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit upheld the judgment. The trial court, the Court of Appeals ruled, properly refused to reduce the judgment by the percentage of fault the jury assigned to three defendants the plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed before trial. In addition, the Circuit Court held that the award of punitive damages against defendant Celotex did not violate the company’s due process rights.

McNair v. Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corp., 890 F.2d 753 (5th Cir. 1989)

Baron & Budd successfully persuaded the United States Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that under the law in Texas, an asbestos defendant that loses at trial cannot have the amount of the judgment against it reduced by the amounts of “notes” two other defendants had sent to the plaintiffs. In these notes, the other defendants stated they would only pay a settlement if they were successful in their insurance coverage cases against their insurance companies. In addition, the court also upheld the trial court’s ruling that the defendant, Celotex, was not just liable for the percentage of fault the jury assigned to Celotex, but liable for the total jury award – minus the settlement amount paid by the other defendants. The court cited Texas’ comparative responsibility law that was in effect at the time the trial was held.

Meyer v. Armstrong World Indus., Inc., 820 F.2d 329 (9th Cir. 1987)

A district court had dismissed the case of an Idaho asbestos victim based on the statute of limitations, but the United States Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit reversed the dismissal.

Welch v. Celotex Corp., 951 F.2d 1235 (11th Cir. 1992)

In this case, a lower court summary judgment dismissed the case of a Georgia insulator, ruling the Georgia statute of limitations had passed. However, the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit reversed that summary judgment. The Circuit Court ruled the statute of limitations does not begin until a plaintiff knows – or should have known – that his or her injury was caused by the defendants’ wrongful conduct.

Willis v. Raymark Indus., Inc., 905 F.2d 793 (4th Cir. 1990)

This was an asbestos lawsuit brought by insulation workers in Virginia. The defendants in the case, a manufacturer of products containing asbestos, had argued that the lawsuit should be dismissed in accordance to Virginia’s statute of repose. This statute states that if an action for an injury caused by unsafe conditions to real property is not brought within five years of exposure, the action will not be allowed. The United States Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, however, ruled that the lawsuit could not be dismissed. Nearly every victim of asbestos in the state of Virginia would have been barred from taking action if the asbestos manufacturer had won. The reason is that mesothelioma, as well as other diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, typically take many years after exposure to develop. In addition, the court ruled that Virginia’s “sophisticated user” defense – which in this case would have been used to argue that the worker’s employer (and not the manufacturer) should be held liable – could not be used by the defendant.

The results noted above were dependent on the facts of each case.

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