Category Archives: California

$3.5 Million Punitive Damages Upheld Against Brake Manufacturer on Appeal Court of Appeal of California, Fifth Appellate District, March 17, 2017

James Phillips was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March of 2012 and died in February of 2013. In May of 2012, Phillips and his wife, Charity Phillips, filed a complaint seeking damages for personal injuries caused by asbestos in the Superior Court of Fresno County, California. In May 2013, after Phillips’s death, Charity, individually and as the personal representative of his estate, filed a first amended complaint alleging negligence and strict liability. The first amended complaint named more than 25 defendants engaged in the manufacture or…

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Lack of Factual Basis for Plaintiffs’ Assertion of Causation Yields Grant of Summary Judgment Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, March 2, 2017

After the decedent died of mesothelioma, her husband and adult son filed a wrongful death and survivorship complaint against numerous defendants. W.W. Henry Company, predecessor to the Henry Company (who was also named and not a party to this motion) filed a motion for summary judgment based upon lack of exposure. The appellate court affirmed the trial court’s granting of this motion. The plaintiffs alleged exposure to asbestos from the early 1970s-early 1980s during the decedent’s work as an art teacher and sculptor, and from…

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California Appellate Court Reverses $3.6M Punitive Damages Award Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, Division One, February 15, 2017

In November 2005, after William Saller was diagnosed with mesothelioma, the plaintiffs filed suit naming 22 defendants, including the manufacturers of various asbestos products. After Saller passed away in February 2006, his wife and daughters added a wrongful death claim and continued the lawsuit. In 2007, the plaintiffs proceeded to trial against two remaining defendants: Crown Cork and Bondex International, Inc. The jury returned a defense verdict, rejecting the plaintiffs’ strict liability design defect claim and their negligent failure-to-warn claim. The plaintiffs appealed and the…

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Automotive Parts Manufacturers Granted Summary Judgment in Secondary Exposure Case Court of Appeal of California, February 2, 2017

The plaintiff sued various automotive parts manufacturers, alleging secondary asbestos exposure from the work of his father, a mechanic. The plaintiff had been diagnosed with mesothelioma. The plaintiff’s father worked at Bekins warehouse from June 1974-May 1982, where he did brake, clutch, and engine gasket repair. The plaintiff visited his father at work, helped him at work, and father’s clothes were washed at home. Products identified in discovery included: two Ford trucks; four International semi-truck tractors; Rockwell axles; Carlisle brake linings; Grizzley brake linings (Maremont,…

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Defense Judgment Affirmed Under Consumer Expectation Test Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, December 21, 2016

David Baeza and Vana Baeza filed suit against defendants including Special Electric Company, a distributor of raw crocidolite asbestos fibers called ML-6 following his diagnosis with mesothelioma. Special Electric had supplied ML-6 raw asbestos fibers to Johns-Manville beginning in the mid-1970s. David Baeza’s father had worked at a Johns-Manville plant in Long Beach, California, and David was exposed as a child to asbestos dust that clung to his father’s shoes, clothes, hair, and skin. At the time of trial, the only causes of action that…

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Summary Judgment for Brake Manufacturer Reversed as Circumstantial Evidence of Exposure Sufficient to Show Triable Issue of Fact Court of Appeal of California, Second Appellate District, December 7, 2016

The plaintiffs, wife and sons of Henry Linsowe, filed a complaint in 2011 alleging causes of action for negligence, strict liability, and loss of consortium. In their complaint, the plaintiffs alleged that Linsowe worked as a brake mechanic at Downey Ford from 1969 to 1986 and that he was exposed to asbestos “during various activities, including handling, beveling, removing, cutting, scoring, grinding, shaping, drilling, and installing of asbestos-containing brake pads and shoes, and the use of compressed air to clean and remove asbestos dust from…

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Duty Exists for Employers and Property Owners’ to Prevent Take-Home Exposure; Duty Extends Only to Workers’ Household Supreme Court of California, December 1, 2016

Two cases addressed whether employers or landowners owed a duty to prevent secondary exposure to asbestos. Trial and appellate courts reached varying conclusions on this issue; here, the California Supreme Court determined that while employers and premises owners had a duty to prevent asbestos exposure carried home on the bodies and clothing of on-site workers, this duty extended only to members of a worker’s household. In the first case, Johnny Kesner died of peritoneal mesothelioma. His uncle George Kesner worked at Pneumo Abex; during this…

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Granting of Summary Judgment to Asbestos Insulation Supplier Based on Government Contractor Defense Upheld on Appeal Court of Appeal of California, First Appellate District, Division One, November 22, 2016

In this case, the plaintiff, Gary Kase, claimed exposure to asbestos insulation used in Navy nuclear submarines during the 1970s. Defendant Metalclad Insulation Corp. provided the asbestos-containing insulation, Unibestos, to the U.S. Navy. Metaclad moved for and was granted summary judgment based on the government contractor defense. The plaintiff appealed. On appeal, the court thoroughly reviewed the standards for summary judgment based on the government contractor defense pursuant to the seminal case Boyle v. United Technologies Corp., 487 U.S. 500 (1988). Boyle set forth…

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Court Affirms Defense Verdict Finding Defendant Contractor Was Not Negligent California Court of Appeal, Second District, November 22, 2016

Plaintiff Kenneth Evans was diagnosed with asbestosis after a decades-long career working for the Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). For about 35 percent of his employment, Evans worked alongside contractors who helped build and replace gas pipelines; some of those pipelines were covered in a coating that contained asbestos. Evans testified that he worked for SoCalGas from 1954 to 1990. He started out as a pipeline repairman, repairing pipe at various work sites, and working side-by-side with outside contractors on pipeline this work. Specifically, Evans…

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Plaintiffs’ Motion for Sanctions Denied for Failure to Establish Spoliation of Evidence U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, October 24, 2016

The plaintiffs contended that their decedent was exposed to asbestos while working as a machinist at a shipyard owned by Electric Boat Corporation from 1962-65. At the close of discovery, a period in which several discovery motions were filed, the plaintiffs filed this motion for spoliation of evidence. The plaintiffs asserted that Electric Boat spoliated evidence in four areas including 1) historical asbestos insulation dust studies 2) material safety data sheets 3) certain deposition transcripts 4) certain deposition exhibits The court stated that spoliation is…

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