About William Essig

William V. Essig is a trial lawyer residing in our Chicago, Illinois office. Bill has experience defending pharmaceutical and medical device companies in mass tort and products liability litigations in federal and state courts across the country. Read Bill's full bio

Western District of Louisiana Says Plaintiff’s Marine Engineering Expert’s Opinions Don’t Hold Water

It is not often that a federal district court limits an expert witness’s proffered testimony on the ground that the expert is not qualified to offer it, and it is also uncommon for a court to exclude expert testimony on the ground that it would not assist the trier of fact. However, the Western District of Louisiana recently limited a proffered engineering expert’s testimony on both of those grounds.

In Terral River Service, Inc. v. SCF Marine, Inc., No. 3:19-CV-00406, Plaintiff purchased a barge from Defendant and later found it partially submerged due to a fracture in the bow. The parties disputed the timing of the fracture, with Plaintiff alleging that it existed prior to delivery of the barge. Plaintiff offered as an expert witness a metallurgical and mechanical engineer with experience in evaluating barge fractures.

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Illinois Supreme Court Holds Employee’s Office At Home Not Sufficient to Establish Venue

The Illinois Supreme Court recently held that the presence of an employee’s home office was not sufficient to establish venue in Cook County for a negligence action arising out of a vehicle accident in Ohio. Tabirta v. Cummings, et al., 2020 IL 124798 (Ill. Oct. 22, 2020). Reversing the trial and appellate courts, the Court held that having a sole employee with a home office in Cook County did not establish an “other office” of the corporate defendant for purposes of the venue statute, 735 ILCS 5/2-101(a), and that the employee’s activities and the company’s minimal sales in Cook County did not meet the “doing business” prong of the venue statute.

The underlying negligence action arose out of a collision in Delaware County, Ohio, in which the plaintiff suffered severe injuries after his truck was hit by a tractor-trailer owned by the driver’s employer, Gilster-Mary Lee Corporation (GML). The plaintiff, who was a Cook County resident, brought suit in Cook County against GML and the other driver, who was not a resident of Cook County. GML is a Missouri corporation with a principal place of business and registered agent in Randolph County, Illinois.

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IL Supreme Court Follows BMS To Hold Courts May Not Exercise Personal Jurisdiction Over Claims of Out-of-State Plaintiffs for Out-Of-State Injuries From A Device Made Out-Of-State

In an important decision in accord with the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2017 landmark ruling on personal jurisdiction in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of Calif., 137 S. Ct. 1773 (2017) (BMS), the Illinois Supreme Court held that Illinois courts may not exercise personal jurisdiction over claims of out-of-state plaintiffs for personal injuries suffered outside of Illinois from a device manufactured outside of Illinois. Rios v. Bayer, 2020 IL 125020 (June 4, 2020).

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District of Delaware Grants Motions for Summary Judgment in Three Risperdal Gynecomastia Cases

In a trio of recent decisions arising out of cases alleging that an antipsychotic medication, Risperdal, and its generic, risperidone, had caused gynecomastia (breast tissue growth) in men, the United States District Court for the District of Delaware granted motions for summary judgment for defendant Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. The three opinions clarify that Delaware law would not impose innovator liability on a branded drug manufacturer when the plaintiff had used only a generic drug, and addressed “but-for” warnings causation and proximate cause in prescription drug products liability cases. [Disclosure: Drinker Biddle & Reath. LLP attorneys were co-counsel of record in these cases for Janssen.]

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Alternative Medical Cause Arguments Require Supporting Defense Expert Testimony in Illinois

A recent Appellate Court opinion in a premises liability case alleging back pain has the potential to be a pain in the neck for defense lawyers seeking to argue for possible alternative causes of plaintiff’s injuries in a personal injury cases in Illinois. In Campbell v. Autenreib,  109 N.E.3d 332 (2018), the Fifth District held that testimony about the potential alternative causes of plaintiff’s injuries elicited through cross-examination of the plaintiff’s treating physician was too speculative to be admitted in the absence of any defense expert testimony supporting the alternative causes. This opinion expands on the Illinois Supreme Court’s opinion in Voykin v. Estate of DeBoer, 192 Ill. 2d 49 (2000), which held that in most cases defendants must present expert testimony about the relevance of a prior injury or medical condition in a personal injury case.

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Seventh Circuit Finds Preemption in Reversing Generic Paxil Verdict Against GSK, But Passes on Deciding Innovator Liability Issues

In a much-anticipated ruling on the appeal of a $3 million verdict against GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in a wrongful death case involving the Paxil generic, paroxetine, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reversed on Wednesday and held that the plaintiff’s claims were preempted under Wyeth v. Levine, 555 U.S. 555 (2009). Dolin v. GlaxoSmithKline LLC, No. 17-3030, slip op. at 25 (7th Cir. August 22, 2018). The appellate court’s decision was also notable in that the court ruled on the preemption issues without addressing whether Illinois law would permit a claim of “innovator liability” against brand manufacturer GSK when the plaintiff had only taken generic paroxetine manufactured by a different company. Id.

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