Federal Court Grants and Denies Various Summary Judgment Motions, Based on Maritime and Civil Law U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, September 30, 2015

Defendants Crown Cork & Seal, CBS Corporation, General Electric, Crane Co., Gardner Denver, John Crane, Link-Belt Construction Equipment, and Riley Power filed motions for summary judgment pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56. The case had been removed to federal court pursuant to the Federal Officer Removal Statue. The plaintiff alleged he developed pleural mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure during Naval service and while employed by Louisville Gas & Electric. Many other defendants moved for summary judgment on other grounds; this case addressed those…
Continue reading...

Court Applies Admiralty Jurisdiction to Grant Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, September 30, 2015

The plaintiff brought a claim under the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) alleging asbestos exposure while a crew member on two tugboats the Navy leased to his employer, General Dynamics Corporation. The plaintiff also brought a products liability claim under Connecticut law, and his wife brought a loss of consortium claim. The defendant moved to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction under the FTCA, because the lawsuit sounds in admiralty, for which a suit under the Suits in Admiralty Act (SIAA) or the Public Vessels Act…
Continue reading...

NYCAL Court Rules a Plumber Dismantling a Sectional Boiler Was a Foreseeable User of That Product Supreme Court of New York, New York County, September 25, 2015

In this NYCAL mesothelioma case, the plaintiff worked as a plumber from 1984-1996, disassembling plumbing equipment including Cleaver Brooks cast iron sectional boilers.  Cleaver Brooks initially moved for summary judgment on the grounds that a plumber such as the plaintiff was not a foreseeable user of the product, which the lower court denied. The Appellate Division then issued a decision in Hockler v William Powell Co., 129 AD3d 463 (1st Dept. 2015), holding that a salvaging and dismantling valve was not a foreseeable use of…
Continue reading...

Court Denies Certification of Interlocutory Appeals on Personal Jurisdictional Grounds in Two Delaware Cases Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle, September 24, 2015

In these two cases from Delaware, the defendants’ motions to dismiss based on personal jurisdiction were denied. Defendants subsequently sought certification of their interlocutory appeals pursuant to Del. Sup. Ct. 42. The court denied defendants’ applications in both cases, pointing to the “substantial issue of material importance” prong of the Rule 42 requirements.  The court stated that the Delaware Supreme Court has repeatedly held that denial of a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction does not determine a “substantial issue.” In both cases,…
Continue reading...

Applying Maritime Law, Federal Court Grants Summary Judgment, Refusing to Speculate on Decedent’s Exposure to Pump Defendant’s Products While in the Navy U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, September 29, 2015

Plaintiff Josephine Fuoco, as executrix of the estate of Joseph Fuoco, alleged that Mr. Fuoco contracted mesothelioma while serving in the U.S. Navy as a machinists’ mate and as a construction worker. Defendant Warren Pumps moved for summary judgment, which the court granted. Warren did not dispute that its circulating pumps were on the USS Ammen, the ship on which Mr. Fuoco served. However, no fact witness offered testimony regarding Mr. Fuoco’s alleged asbestos exposure on board this shop. Warren was added to the…
Continue reading...

Alabama Supreme Court Reverses Summary Judgment In Favor of Talc Defendant Based on Product Identification, Not Asbestos Content, of Talc Supreme Court of Alabama, September 30, 2015

In this case, the Alabama Supreme Court reversed and remanded the order granting summary judgment to defendant Vanderbilt Minerals. The Supreme Court included a large summary of facts in its opinion. The decedent, Dansby W. Sanders, died from mesothelioma; prior to his passing, he sued numerous defendants alleging he was exposed to asbestos while working for Mobile Paint Company. Vanderbilt supplied industrial talc under the brand name Nytal to Mobile Paint. Various witnesses testified as to the presence of Nytal supplied by Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt responded…
Continue reading...

Defendant Establishes Colorable Defense Under Federal Law, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand Denied U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 28, 2015

The plaintiff filed this action in Madison County, Illinois, alleging injury due to asbestos exposure. The defendants, CBS and General Electric, removed the action to federal court under federal officer removal statute 28 U.S.C. 1442. The plaintiff filed a motion to remand, which the court denied. The court cited the United States Supreme Court in listing the three elements required to establish a colorable defense to the use-of-asbestos claim: (1) the United States approved reasonably precise specifications; (2) the equipment conformed to those specifications; (3)…
Continue reading...

Applying Maritime Law, Defendants’ Summary Judgment Motions Denied in Case Alleging U.S. Navy Exposure U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, September 23, 2015

The plaintiff alleged he developed severe asbestosis as a result of inhaling asbestos while serving in the United States Navy. Three defendants — John Crane, General Electric, and Ingersoll-Rand — moved for summary judgment. In deciding the motion, the court determined whether maritime or Illinois law applied. A plaintiff’s exposure in a products liability claim must meet both a locality test and a connection test in order to apply maritime law. The locality test analyzes whether the tort occurred on navigable water, or, if the…
Continue reading...

Missouri Court, Applying Maryland Law, Upholds $4 Million Verdict, Rejecting Arguments on Expert Challenges, Offsets, and Defective Damages Verdict Court of Appeals of Missouri, Eastern District, Division Four, September 22, 2015

In this case, the plaintiff worked as a steamfitter between 1958 and 1983 at a variety of industrial and commercial sites. Of the original 57 defendants, only valve manufacturer Nibco, Inc. went to trial, which resulted in a $4 million plaintiff’s verdict with the trial court applying Maryland law. On appeal, Nibco raised four issues: it should have been granted a directed verdict; the plaintiff’s experts were allowed to offer opinions based on facts not in evidence; the lower court improperly denied setoff rights; and…
Continue reading...

Brake Defendant’s Motion to Preclude Causation Expert Under Daubert Denied U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, September 22, 2015

The plaintiff commenced this wrongful death action alleging that the decedent developed mesothelioma caused by prolonged exposure to brake dust from brake pads manufactured by Bendix while working as a part-time bookkeeper at an auto repair shop from 1984-1990.  Defendant moved in limine to preclude testimony from the plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Jill Ohar, with respect to any testimony that brake dust causes mesothelioma and any testimony based on the every exposure theory. The defendant also sought to preclude any testimony that asbestos or chrysotile causes…
Continue reading...