Summary Judgment Denied Upon Showing that Defendant’s Boilers Contained Asbestos Gaskets and Rope Superior Court of Delaware, July 12, 2017

Plaintiff Clarence Dionne filed suit against several defendants including Cleaver Brooks alleging that he was exposed to asbestos while working at the Bay Area Medical Facility. Plaintiff alleged that he “scraped off the rope gaskets and supervised this task” on the doors of Defendant’s boilers. Not only did he personally perform this work but he also supervised others in the process. After a promotion in 1975, he took on the task of ordering replacement parts through his secretary. The replacement gaskets and insulation were supplied by Cleaver Brooks according to Mr. Dionne.

Defendant argued that Plaintiff could only speculate whether the boilers contained asbestos replacement parts. Further, Plaintiff could not say whether those parts contained asbestos. For causation, the Court stated that the question is “whether the defendant’s negligence was a substantial factor in contributing to the result.” Here, the Court disagreed with Defendant as Plaintiff had put forth evidence that Cleaver Brooks had “incorporated asbestos-gaskets and rope in parts of their boilers up through the late 1970’s.” Additionally, evidence that Clever Brooks sold replacement gaskets, packing, cement and rope containing asbestos had been submitted by Plaintiff. Based on the above facts, the Court concluded that a reasonable jury could find that Defendant’s conduct was a substantial contributing factor in the development of Plaintiff’s alleged injury. Therefore, summary judgment was denied.

Read the full decision here.


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