Texas Courts of Appeals Cases

Keene Corp. v. Belford, 881 S.W.2d 608, (Tex.App. – Corpus Christi 1994, no writ)

A victim of asbestosis filed suit against Keene Corporation and the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals later upheld a judgment that awarded damages to the victim. The appellate court ruled that the defendant was unable to prove that other manufacturers that were not a part of the trial were liable for injuries suffered by the plaintiff.

Keene Corp. v. Gardner, 837 S.W.2d 224 (Tex. App. – Dallas 1992, writ denied).

In this case, the Dallas Court of Appeals ruled that evidence supported the trial jury’s findings of fact. The plaintiffs were a group of workers who, due to exposure to products that contained asbestos, developed asbestos-related diseases.

Keene Corporation v. Rogers, 863 S.W.2d 168 (Tex.App. – Texarkana 1993, writ dism’d)

A group of shipyard workers who suffered asbestos-related diseases were awarded a judgment, which was affirmed by the Texarkana Court of Appeals. The court, in this case, refused to adopt a restrictive test in regard to exposure to asbestos. The test would require asbestos disease victims to prove the proximity, frequency and regularity of their exposure to a particular product’s emission of asbestos.

Norfolk Southern Ry. Co. v. Bailey, 92 S.W.3d 577 (Tex. App. – Austin 2002, no pet.)

A railroad worker who had developed asbestosis was awarded a substantial verdict, which was later affirmed by The Austin Court of Appeals. The railroad’s argument, which was rejected by the appellate court, was that the trial court mistakenly allowed the jury to take the worker’s fear of developing cancer into consideration when computing the award of damages. The appellate court ruled that the railroad did not adequately lodge an objection to the evidence of cancer.

North American Refractories Company v. Easter, 988 S.W.2d 904 (Tex.App. – Corpus Christi 1999, pet. denied)

Victims of asbestos-related disease and their wives were awarded a substantial amount of damages, and the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals upheld the award. There was enough evidence, the court ruled, to justify the amounts of the awards as well as the jury’s findings of fact. In addition, the court ruled that the punitive damages awarded were not excessive, and that the cases were tried together properly.

Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation v. Keeton, 922 S.W.2d 658 (Tex.App. – Austin 1996, writ denied)

A group of workers exposed to an Owens Corning product that contained asbestos were awarded a judgment by a trial court. In upholding the judgment, the Austin Court of Appeals ruled that the trial court was correct in allowing the jury to see certain documents even though they were written by other companies. The documents proved that Owens Corning should have been aware of the dangers of its products that contained asbestos, because, as early as the 1930s, industry leaders knew of the hazards of asbestos. Even though the defendant knew of the dangers, it did not warn the public.

Owens-Corning Fiberglas Corporation v. Martin, 942 S.W.2d 712 (Tex.App. – Dallas 1997, no writ)

The cases of several men who developed diseases related to asbestos – due to their work-related exposure to asbestos – were consolidated into one case by the trial judge. The Dallas Court of Appeals ruled that the judge’s decision to consolidate the cases was proper.

Pittsburgh Corning Corp. v. Thomas, 668 S.W.2d 876 (Tex. App. Houston [14th Dist.] 1984, no writ)

This case was held in a Brazoria County court because the plaintiff had been exposed to asbestos while working for a Dow Chemical facility located in the county. The man, who worked at the location for 30 years as an insulator, later passed away from the disease. The Houston Court of Appeals (14th District) held that Brazoria County was the proper venue for the case.

Pittsburgh Corning Corp. v. Walters, 1 S.W.3d 759 (Tex. App. – Corpus Christi 1999, pet. denied)

This Texas mesothelioma appeal case involved a widow whose husband developed the disease due to exposure to asbestos. The widow was awarded a judgment in the case, and the award was affirmed by the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals. The appellate court ruled that, even though both the widow and her husband were out-of-state residents, she had the right to bring her wrongful death action in Texas. The appellate court ruled that the trial court properly applied Texas law to the proceedings, that the evidence supported the damages that were awarded, and that the evidence was correctly admitted.

Privitt v. City of Irving, 666 S.W.2d 541 (Tex. App. Corpus Christi 1983, writ ref’d n.r.e.)

A trial court dismissed this case, which involved City of Irving Fire Department employees who sued the City for overtime pay, by issuing a summary judgment. However, the Corpus Christi Court of Appeals reinstated the employment rights case. The appellate court ruled that dispatchers that did not perform firefighting duties may, under Texas law, have the right to overtime pay.

Smith v. Atlantic Richfield Co., 927 S.W. 2d 85 (Tex. App. – Houston 1996, writ denied)

The family of a worker who developed cancer due to exposure to cancer-causing chemicals filed a wrongful death action against two chemical companies that had employed the deceased. The trial court, however, dismissed the case by issuing a summary judgment. However, the Houston Court of Appeals (1st District) reversed the summary judgment. It ruled that the family had the right to pursue wrongful death litigation under both the Texas Constitution and the Workers Compensation Act. Both of them allow for this type of action when either an employer’s intentional acts or gross negligence result in death.

Wall v. Owens-Corning Fibreglas Corp., 602 F.Supp. 252 (N.D. Tex. 1985)

The Texas Discovery Rule was a key component in this case. The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas held that the rule applies to latent injuries – including disease related to asbestos – caused by negligent actions. In addition, the court held that a successor corporation can be held liable for punitive damages based on its predecessor corporation’s manufacture of products containing asbestos. In its finding, the appellate court stated, “[t]he acquiring corporation cannot accept the good without the bad…and jettison inchoate liabilities into a never-never land of transcorporate limbo.”

White v. CBS Corporation, 996 S.W.2d 920 (Tex.App. – Austin 1999, pet. denied)

This Texas mesothelioma appeals case was originally dismissed by the trial court. The widow of a mesothelioma victim had filed suit against Westinghouse Electric Corporation. The Austin Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment, ruling there was a fact issue regarding turbines made by Westinghouse. The victim had worked around the turbines and been exposed to asbestos. The turbines had been annexed to the property when the exposure took place. This fact determined whether the action could be barred according to the Texas statute of repose.

Texas Supreme Court Cases

Dow Chemical Co. v. Alfaro, 786 S.W.2d 674 (Tex. 1990), cert. denied, 498 U.S. 1024 (1991)

The doctrine of “non conveniens” was at issue in this case. This doctrine allows a court to dismiss a case initiated by a foreign plaintiff – eve if the court has jurisdiction over both the subject matter of the lawsuit as well as the parties involved. The Texas Supreme Court, in this instance, held that the doctrine was abolished by a statute that was enacted in 1913. Because of the Supreme Court decision in this case, more than 500 farm workers in Costa Rica were allowed to seek compensation from the manufacturers of a pesticide that had rendered the workers sterile. The pesticide was manufactured in the United States and later banned. Since this case, the Texas Legislature has re-instituted the doctrine of forum non conveniens by adopting new statutes.

Owens Corning Fiberglas Corp. v. Malone, 972 S.W.2d 35 (Tex. 1998)

A manufacturer of products containing asbestos, ruled the Texas Supreme Court, could be held liable for punitive damages based on wrongful conduct, even if it had previously paid other punitive damage awards in other cases based on the same conduct. Given the facts of Owens Corning’s conduct, the court ruled, the punitive damages that were awarded were neither excessive nor unconstitutional.

Pustejovsky v. Rapid-American Corp., 35 S.W. 3d 643 (Tex. 2000)

This Texas Supreme Court would set a precedent. In this instance, the Court ruled that an asbestos injury victim could file a second lawsuit at a later date if he or she eventually developed cancer. Before this ruling, there was a long history of Texas cases that held a person could only file one lawsuit for one injury related to asbestos – even if, at a much later date, that person developed catastrophic cancer related to asbestos.

Results depend on the facts of each case.