Plaintiff Failure to Establish Retailer’s Knowledge of Danger of Asbestos Leads to Summary Judgment Superior Court of Delaware, July 12, 2017

Plaintiffs brought this suit against multiple defendants for Mr. Glaser’s alleged asbestos related injuries. Scott Glaser alleged that he was exposed to asbestos floor tile sold by Sears and Roebuck (“Sears”) while working for various employers. His work required him to clean up “scraps or pieces of floor tile off the floor.” Defendant took the position that it was a retailer and never “mined, milled, processed, or distributed wholesale asbestos containing products.” The Court noted that under Michigan law for a products liability action, a “seller other than a manufacturer is not liable for harm allegedly caused by the product unless either of the following is true:

a) The seller failed to exercise a reasonable care, including breach of any implied warranty, with respect to the product and that failure was a proximate cause of the person’s injuries;

b) The seller made an express warranty as to the product, the product failed to conform to the warranty, and the failure to conform to the warranty was a proximate cause of the person’s harm.

Sears argued that Plaintiff had not established any of the above. Plaintiff countered and argued that Sears had become aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure in the 1970’s. However, the Court was not convinced that the interrogatories upon which Plaintiff relied actually established Sears’ knowledge. On the contrary, Plaintiff’s motion supported Sears’ argument that it was not a manufacturer of asbestos tiles. Relying on the decision from Dreyer, the court concluded that a manufacturer is not required to “warn dangers associated with another manufacturer’s product.” Finally, the Court pointed out that Plaintiff did not put forth any support for the argument that a retailer has a duty to warn of the dangers associated with a product manufactured by another. Consequently, summary judgment was granted in favor of Sears.

Read the full decision here.


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