Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Judge Nealon of Lackawanna County Again Reviews Validity of Punitive Damages Claims in Asbestos Litigation

In his recent decision in the asbestos litigation case of Horst v. Union Carbide Corp., No. 2015-CV-1903 (C.P. Lacka. Co. July 26, 2016 Nealon, J.), Judge Terrence R. Nealon of the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas reviewed Motions for Summary Judgment filed by various Defendants against punitive damages claims presented by the Plaintiffs.  

After reviewing the general law regarding punitive damages, the court also noted that the appellate courts of Pennsylvania have more specifically ruled that, in asbestos litigation, that the existence of medical articles and trade journal publications discussing the dangers of asbestos inhalation are insufficient to support a claim for punitive damages absent some proof that the asbestos Defendant knew or had reason to know of the content of that literature. 

Judge Terrence R. Nealon
Lackawanna County

The court noted that various Motions for Summary Judgment previously filed by some Defendants seeking partial summary judgment with respect to the Plaintiffs’ punitive damages claims were granted in this matter as there was no evidence that any of those Defendants knew or had reason to know of the articles or studies cited by the Plaintiffs and their expert.   However, based upon internal company documentation that certain other Defendants did have a subjective appreciation of the risk of arm, those other Defendants’ Motions in this regard were denied.  

In this particular decision, the court again denied certain Defendants Motions for Partial Summary Judgment but denied another Defendant's motion in a mixed result decision based upon the facts at hand.     

Anyone wishing to review this decision may click this LINK.

Here is a LINK to other Tort Talk posts on other decisions by Judge Nealon in this same asbestos litigation case.

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