Duty to Warn Recognized in Maritime Tort Context U.S. Supreme Court, March 19, 2019

In a case extensively covered by the Asbestos Case Tracker blog the US. Supreme Court examined a multi-district asbestos product liability action. In the claim, widows of deceased veterans brought negligence and strict liability action against several defendants, including manufacturers of engines and other equipment installed on Navy ships, alleging veterans developed cancer due to exposure to asbestos on board Navy ships. Following remand from the court of appeals, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania granted manufacturers’ motions for summary judgment.…
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Bare Metal Defense Does Not Apply To Negligence Claims Under Maritime Law U.S. Supreme Court, March 19, 2019

The U.S. Supreme Court held that manufacturers are liable for injuries caused by parts with asbestos that were subsequently added to their products by third parties, affirming the special protections extended to sailors under maritime law. The court reviewed the following question: “Can products-liability defendants be held liable under maritime law for injuries caused by products they did not make, sell, or distribute?” In a case previously reported by the Asbestos Case Tracker, the court, in a 6-3 ruling, upheld a third circuit decision that…
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Summary Judgment Motions Denied for Four Defendants in Two Maritime Cases Filed by Same Plaintiff U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, February 14, 2019

PENNSYLVANIA — Shortly before his death, Obediah Walker, Jr., filed an action in Pennsylvania state court alleging he was exposed to asbestos while serving on the USS Plymouth Rock while enlisted in the Navy from 1969 to 1971. He served as an electrician onboard the Plymouth Rock and was later diagnosed with lung cancer. He was deposed six days after filing suit and was only cross-examined by one defendant before he passed. The defendants Ingersoll-Rand, Warren Pumps and Blackmer Pumps did not cross-examine Walker. Obediah…
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Exclusion of the Plaintiff’s Causation Experts Leads to Grant of Summary Judgment in Merchant Marine Mesothelioma Matter U.S.District Court, E.D. Louisiana, February 05, 2019

LOUISIANA — The plaintiff filed suit against multiple defendants alleging he developed mesothelioma while working for Radcliff Materials, a predecessor of Dravo Basic Materials Company (DBMC). Prior to filing suit in Louisiana, The plaintiff had filed a products liability suit against several defendants in California including DBMC. The plaintiff dismissed DBMC from the California suit based on jurisdictional issues. The plaintiff worked as an oiler onboard a dredge known as the Avocet in 1973 for approximately 6 weeks. His primary job duties included reading gauges,…
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Lack of Detail in Product Identification Leads to Grant of Fourteen Summary Judgment Motions United States District Court, D. Delaware, January 23, 2019

DELAWARE — The plaintiff William Johansen alleged that he developed mesothelioma from his work with various pumps, valves, and other equipment aboard Naval vessels, at shipyards, and at a pulp mill. Fourteen defendants filed summary judgement motions arguing insufficient causation. The parties agreed that maritime law applied to all of the plaintiff’s Naval/sea-based claims and that Washington law applied to his land based claims. Under maritime law, a plaintiff must demonstrate exposure to the defendant’s product and proof that the product was a substantial factor…
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Plaintiff’s Failure to Establish Basic Product Identification Leads to Recommendation of Summary Judgment for Multiple Defendants U.S. District Court, D. Delaware. January 22, 2019

DELAWARE — The plaintiff filed suit against several defendants alleging that, Mr. Harding, developed lung cancer as a result of his occupational exposure to asbestos while working in the U.S. Navy and during work in the civilian sector. The case was quickly removed to federal court. Specifically, the plaintiff worked as a plumber in New Canaan, CT from 1962-1963. He recalled working with several brands of residential and commercial boilers. The plaintiff believed that he had been exposed to asbestos from the powder associated with…
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Applying Washington Law to Summary Judgment Based on Government Contractor Defense for Pump Manufacturer Results in Denial of Motion United States District Court, Western District of Washington, October 9, 2018

WASHINGTON –The court ruled on competing motions for summary judgment from the plaintiff Alice Mikelsen and the defendant Warren Pumps in this case involving allegations that Arthur Mikelsen developed mesothelioma from working around Warren Pumps in the machine shop at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard from 1942 to 1980.  The plaintiff challenged six of Warren Pumps’ affirmative defenses; the court granted five of the six, eliminating the defenses of failure to mitigate, contributory negligence, assumption of risk, sophisticated purchaser, and intervening/superseding cause.  The court denied summary…
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Superseding Cause/State of Art as to Navy’s Negligence and Knowledge of Asbestos Barred Against Sealing Technology Defendant United States District Court, E.D. Virginia. August 24, 2018

VIRGINIA –The plaintiff brought this suit against John Crane Inc. (JCI) alleging Mr. Goodrich developed an asbestos related disease for which Defendant was liable. The plaintiff moved in limine to preclude JCI from presenting evidence of the alleged “knowledge or negligence of the Navy.” JCI argued that any failure to warn was not a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injury based on the Navy’s negligent control of the plaintiff’s work space. Also, JCI took the position that the Navy’s intervening negligence superseded that of…
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Court Grants Summary Judgment to Some Pump Manufacturers, while denying it to others in Maritime Action United States District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania, May 22, 2018

PENNSYLVANIA — The court issued rulings on summary judgment motions from the five remaining defendants in this lung cancer case, where the plaintiff Robert Hedrick alleged exposure to asbestos while serving in the United States Navy from 1953-1957.  the plaintiff claimed that his lung cancer was caused by alleged work with asbestos products in the boiler rooms and engine rooms of four naval vessels.  Of the five product manufacturer defendants, the plaintiff only identified one by name at deposition.  Instead, he relied on the combination…
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Motion to Dismiss Based Upon Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Denied in Maritime Case Motion to Dismiss Based Upon Lack of Personal Jurisdiction Denied in Maritime Case, May 18, 2018

LOUISIANA —  The plaintiff, Robert Schindler, filed suit against Dravo Basic Materials Company, Inc. (Dravo), to recover for injuries caused by his development of mesothelioma from allegedly being exposed to asbestos while working for three months in 1973 on a ship owned by Dravo. The ship was operated in Lake Pontchartrain during the relevant time period. The plaintiff filed his complaint under maritime law on November 21, 2017. Dravo responded by filing a motion to dismiss based upon a lack of personal jurisdiction. Dravo argued…
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