Category Archives: Maritime/Admiralty Law

Court Grants Summary Judgment for Defendant Boiler Manufacturer Based on Lack of Causation Under Maritime Law U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, September 16, 2016

Plaintiffs Jimmy R. Mitchell and Connie Mitchell filed suit alleging that Mr. Mitchell developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products, in part during the course of his employment as a boiler fireman with the U.S. Navy from 1976-79. Defendant Foster Wheeler filed for summary judgment and argued, among other things, lack of causation. To establish causation under maritime law (which both parties agree applied), plaintiffs must show that (1) Mr. Mitchell was exposed to a Foster Wheeler boiler; (2) the exposure…

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Court Grants Summary Judgment After Plaintiff Fails to Establish Elements to Pierce the Corporate Veil U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York , August 23, 2016

The plaintiff, Kelan Unterberg, brought this action against multiple defendants for his alleged development of mesothelioma. His complaint lodged three separate causes of action including negligence under the Jones Act, breach of warranty of sea worthiness and reasonable fitness under U.S. Maritime law, and remedy of maintenance and cure. All of the counts were related to Unterberg’s alleged exposure to asbestos aboard several civilian vessels while working as a chief engineer and merchant seaman from 1973-78. The plaintiff, a citizen of Germany, first brought this…

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Maritime Law Applied in Granting of Summary Judgment to Manufacturer of Blowers Used on Naval Ship U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, August 29, 2016

The plaintiff sued several defendants alleging that he developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos products of the defendants while he served as a boiler tender in the U.S. Navy from 1976-79. Defendants Atwood and Morill (Atwood) and Carrier Corp. moved for summary judgment. The court’s analysis started with the standard for summary judgment. “The Court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as…

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Magistrate Judge Recommends Various Rulings on Five Summary Judgment Motions Filed by Defendants U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, August 19, 2016

The United States Magistrate Judge recommended disposition on five summary judgment motions filed by various defendants in this mesothelioma case wherein plaintiffs alleged asbestos exposure during plaintiff Mark Hillyer’s employment with the U.S. Navy from 1967-1997.  The only product identification witness was plaintiff Mark Hillyer, who testified that he was exposed to asbestos through his maintenance work on reactor plant systems, steam plant systems, engines, and turbine generators.  In deciding these motions, the court applied maritime law such that plaintiff must show that (1) he…

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Summary Judgment to Shipbuilders Upheld on Appeal Since Ships Are Not Products and Rejection of Plaintiffs’ Every Exposure Claim U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, March 31, 2016

In this case, the decedent, James McIndoe, was alleged to have been exposed to asbestos pipe insulation while serving aboard the USS Coral Sea, built by Huntington Ingalls Inc., from 1961–63 and the USS Wordern, built by Bath Iron Works Corporation from 1966-67. The case was removed to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, and Huntington and Bath moved for summary judgment. The district court granted the motions “on the grounds that the ships were not products for purposes of strict liability…

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Regardless of Whether New York or Maritime Law Applied, Government Contractor and Bare Metal Defenses Insufficient to Grant Summary Judgment to Foster Wheeler U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York, March 21, 2016

The plaintiff alleged the decedent was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy from 1947-52, and while on board the USS Charles H. Roan. Defendants Foster Wheeler and General Electric removed to federal court pursuant to the federal officer statute. Foster Wheeler moved for summary judgment based on: (1) the government contractor defense; (2) bare metal defense; and (3) its products were not a substantial factor in causing injury. Crane Co. also moved for summary judgment; Crane, CBS Corp., and Foster Wheeler also…

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On Remand, Federal Court Again Grants Summary Judgment on Plaintiff’s Maritime and State Law Claims U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, February 8, 2016

In this federal court case, the court’s jurisdiction was based solely on the plaintiff’s assertion of maritime jurisdiction as set forth in in his fourth amended complaint. The plaintiff brought claims against 54 defendants that manufactured asbestos-containing products that the decedent, Christopher Curtis, was allegedly exposed to in three different situations: From 1955-58 while he served in the Navy, while employed as an electrician for 40 years, and while performing maintenance on his automobiles. The plaintiff settled against many of the 54 defendants, and other…

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Prior Release Found Inadequate to Dismiss Future Jones Act/FELA Claims Based on Development of Mesothelioma Supreme Court of New York, New York County, January 4, 2016

In this NYCAL case, the Maritime Asbestos Legal Clinic originally filed a suit in 1997 on behalf of the decedent, Mason South, in the Northern District of Ohio. The decedent served in the Merchant Marines from 1945 to 1982. Less than two months later the case settled, with Texaco Inc. being one of the settled defendants. In 2014, the decedent was diagnosed with and died from complications related to mesothelioma. In 2015, the decedent’s wife commenced another action under the Jones Act arising from her…

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Valve Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment under Maritime Law Based on Lack of Causation U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, January 5, 2016

In this federal court action, it is alleged that the decedent, Richard Bell, was exposed to asbestos during his service in the Navy where he served on the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt from 1961 to 1962. Velan Valve Corp. moved for summary judgment asserting maritime law. The plaintiff did not oppose the application of maritime law. The court went on to analyze the application of maritime law and found it applied in the case. The court then went on to grant Velan summary judgment, stating…

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Previously Dismissed Federal Maritime Case Against Ship Owners on Personal Jurisdiction Grounds Subsequently Dismissed in NYCAL; Court Finds There Was No Tolling of Statute of Limitations Supreme Court of New York, New York County, December 10, 2015

In this NYCAL decision, it was alleged that the decedent, Eugene Quinlan, was exposed to asbestos and developed lung cancer from his work as a career merchant mariner. The case was originally filed in 1997 in the Northern District of Ohio for a non-malignant asbestos disease. The decedent subsequently developed lung cancer and the case was assigned to the MultiDistrict Litigation (MDL), which included the Maritime Docket cases (MARDOC), and laid dormant for seventeen years. In 2014, the case was assigned to the Eastern District…

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