Applying Connecticut Law, Court Finds Existence of Duty in Asbestos Claim Against Sporting Goods Properties, Inc. Superior Court of Connecticut, Judicial District of Fairfield at Bridgeport, May 2, 2016
Surviving spouse and personal representative of the decedent filed a three-count complaint against multiple defendants, alleging failure to warn, loss of consortium, and conspiracy due to damages from alleged asbestos exposure. Defendant Sporting Goods Properties, Inc. filed a motion to strike all three counts for failure to state a claim, which plaintiff opposed. The court denied the defendant’s motion to strike as to counts one and two, but granted as to count three.
Sporting Goods argued a clear disconnect between the duty to warn of the dangers of asbestos, and the alleged conduct — that the defendant allowed asbestos to be released into the air. Further, no special relationship was alleged between the parties that would give rise to any duty. Count two — loss of consortium — was derivative of count one, and count three — conspiracy — was not alleged against Sporting Goods. The plaintiff argued that Connecticut law recognized a duty not to release hazardous chemicals into the environment, and that it was unnecessary to allege a duty that the law implied from the facts pleaded. The plaintiff conceded that count three did not apply to the defendant.
Relying upon Connecticut case law defining the duty and the test for the existent of a duty, the court concluded that the complaint did allege facts giving rise to a duty of care. The plaintiff alleged that the defendants knew or should have known of the hazards of asbestos, the defendants released asbestos into the environment, they failed to take adequate measures to prevent exposure, and the plaintiff’s decedent suffered injuries due to asbestos exposure. “These allegations necessarily imply that the defendant owed a duty of care to the plaintiff’s decedent not to pollute the local community in which he lived with asbestos, which it knew or should have known was hazardous to human health. A disconnect between the alleged duty and the alleged conduct is not present.”