The Delaware Supreme Court, in a rare split opinion, affirmed the trial court’s denial of Plaintiffs’ Request to Change Trial Settings in favor of all defendants, including a major automotive manufacturer represented by White and Williams LLP, in a mesothelioma case with a young decedent who had an alleged economic loss claim exceeding $9,000,000, in Shaw v. American Friction, Inc. et al., No. 86, 2019. This decision operates to dismiss all of Plaintiffs’ claims based on their failure to meet Delaware’s strict expert deadlines and establish a prima facie case under Texas law.
Plaintiffs’ Complaint invoked the application of Texas substantive law and alleged that multiple manufacturers were negligent and strictly liable for failing to warn the decedent of the alleged dangers posed by the use of asbestos-containing products. Plaintiffs’ alleged asbestos exposures from defendants’ products caused Mr. Shaw’s disease and subsequent death.
In 2007, Texas instituted its now well-known causation requirement, which requires the “dose” of asbestos exposure from each defendant’s products to be quantified by an expert. Borg-Warner Corp. v. Flores, 232 S.W.3d 765, 773 (Tex. 2007). Prior to decedent’s death, Plaintiffs’ counsel deposed decedent and his father for product identification purposes. During the depositions, Plaintiffs’ counsel failed to obtain the necessary factual information from his clients for an expert to be able to opine as to alleged exposure doses from any defendant’s product. Despite lacking the requisite information for a prima facie case under Texas law, Plaintiffs sought and were given placement in an expedited trial setting, which had strict, defined deadlines.
Reprinted courtesy of Christian Singewald, White and Williams LLP and Rochelle Gumapac, White and Williams LLP
Mr. Singewald may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
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