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First Department Affirms Denial of Pipe Manufacturer’s Motion for Summary Judgment

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Court: Supreme Court of New York, Appellate Division, First Department

In this asbestos action, decedent Rudolf Horvath alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from Bondstrand pipes manufactured by defendant, Ameron International, at a sewage plant in midtown Manhattan. In response, Ameron filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing the sewage plant referenced by decedent must have been the North River wastewater treatment plant, which did not exist until 1985 at a time when Ameron no longer manufactured Bondstrand pipe using asbestos.

The trial court ultimately denied Ameron’s motion (covered in the Asbestos Case Tracker HERE) because Ameron’s evidence did not “unequivocally establish that its product could not have contributed to the causation of plaintiff’s injury.” Ameron subsequently appealed to the First Department.

On appeal, the First Department determined that the trial court correctly denied Ameron’s motion because Ameron failed to adduce definitive evidence that decedent worked at the North River wastewater treatment plant. Moreover, even assuming decedent did work at that particular plant, Ameron failed to show as a matter of law that decedent could not have encountered its asbestos-containing pipe.

Specifically, the evidence from Ameron showed that the plant was under construction for an extended period with multiple delays, and that contracts for materials had been entered into prior to 1985. For these reasons, the First Department unanimously affirmed the denial of Ameron’s motion for summary judgment.

Read the full decision here.