Mr. Spitkovsky was involved in two high profile continuous exposure injury cases:
- Lung Damage from Continuous Exposure. This particular case involved ten plaintiffs who were alleging that they developed silicosis as a result of exposure to diatomaceous earth during their twenty-year tenure at an Illinois insulation manufacturing plant. The firm obtained a not guilty verdict for the defendant manufacturing facility, following a three-week trial. This was a retrial following a reversal of a prior $3.6 million verdict (in favor of the plaintiffs) in the same case, with the same judge and plaintiff's counsel, but different defense counsel. The plaintiff's attorneys had demanded $3.6 million to settle and had asked the jury for $6.2 million.
- Lung Damage from Continuous Exposure. This complex case, which eventually was decided in the Illinois Supreme Court, involved four plaintiffs who alleged that they developed silicosis as a result of exposure to diatomaceous earth. The court collaterally estopped the defendant from denying that diatomaceous earth could cause lung disease. The collateral estoppel ruling was made despite the firm’s objection that collateral estoppel did not apply in this particular case. After a two-week trial, the firm received a not guilty verdict for the defendant mineral and mining company. Johnson & Bell attorneys had proved that the plaintiffs in this case did not have silicosis. The appellate court reversed the trial court’s judgment in favor of the defendant and remanded the case for a new trial. The appellate court held that the trial court did not strictly apply collateral estoppel against the defense and their petition for leave to appeal to the Illinois Supreme Court was granted. Following argument, the Illinois Supreme Court held that in product cases such as this, the application of collateral estoppel should only be applied when to do so would not prejudice a defendant. As such, the Illinois Supreme Court reinstated the trial court jury’s verdict of not guilty for the defendants.