Category Archives: California

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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Sanctions Granted Against Defendant for Suspension of Corporate Representative Deposition U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, October 24, 2016

The plaintiffs’ brought this action against Electric Boat and General Dynamics for their decedent’s alleged development of mesothelioma as a result of his work as a machinist at the defendants’ shipyards. The plaintiffs sought depositions of the corporate representatives of both Electric Boat and General Dynamics since Electric Boat operated as a division of General Dynamics during the alleged exposure period. The plaintiffs noticed the deposition of General Dynamics’ corporate representative. General Dynamics objected to the notice and a hearing was promptly held. The court…

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Defendants Petition California Supreme Court to Review Duty of Care Standard Regarding Take-Home Exposures Supreme Court of California

In the consolidated matters of Kesner and Havner, the defendants petitioned the California Supreme Court to find there is no duty on employers to protect against take-home exposures experienced by those who are neither employees nor visitors to the employer’s premises; including that of an employee’s spouse or family member. In the Havner matter, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death action against defendant BNSF Railway Company, alleging claims for wrongful death based on theories of negligence and premises liability due to the plaintiff’s take-home…

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California High Court Declines to Review Appellate Reversal of Trial Court’s Grant of Summary Judgment California Supreme Court, August 25, 2016

On August 25, 2016, the California Supreme Court, without a written opinion, declined to hear a petition to review an appellate panel’s decision to overturn a trial court’s grant of summary judgment to Hennessy Industries Inc. In this case, the plaintiff claimed that the decedent, Frank Rondon, worked as a mechanic using defendant Hennessy’s (Ammco Tools) brake arcing machines designed to grind asbestos brake shoes. Hennessy moved for summary judgment arguing that the brake grinders did not contain asbestos and plaintiffs could not establish that…

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Remand Granted Based on Finding that Plaintiffs Acted in Good Faith Naming Defendant With State Contact U.S. District Court, Northern District of California, August 22, 2016

The plaintiffs sued multiple defendants including several “citizens” of California. Four days before trial defendant John Crane Inc. removed the case to federal court on diversity. The plaintiff then moved to remand. The court began its analysis by stating the legal standard for removal which permits removal when the federal court could have “exercised original jurisdiction” in the case. Additionally, the burden falls upon the removing defendant. A case may be removed under diversity unless one of the parties is a properly joined and served…

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Exclusion of Belated Theory of Exposure Upheld on Appeal Court of Appeals of California, Second Appellate District, Division Four, August 18, 2016

The plaintiff sued multiple defendants, including “asbestos” and “premises” defendants, asserting claims of negligence, strict liability and premises liability based on his alleged asbestos exposure in the City of Coalinga (where he resided from 1959 to 1972) and during his 30-year career as a pipe inspector. Defendant PAC Operating Limited Partnership was sued as a premises defendant. Its predecessor, Southern Pacific Land Company (SPLC), owned 557 acres of land in the Diablo Mountain Range, located 17 miles outside of Coalinga. In 1961, SPLC leased the…

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