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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Supreme Court Accepts Review of Bare-Metal Defense Under Maritime Law U.S. Supreme Court, May 14, 2018

On May 14, 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the petition of Air & Liquid Systems, CBS Corporation and Foster Wheeler to resolve a split among circuits regarding the viability of the bare metal defense under maritime law. Specifically, the parties appealed the Third Circuit’s ruling in October 2017 that the bare metal defense is inapplicable to negligence claims under maritime law. That opinion was previously analyzed by this blog post. The Supreme Court will resolve a split on the issue between the Third…
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Motion for Reconsideration Based Upon Change in Law Denied as Untimely U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, April 9, 2018

DELAWARE — Plaintiffs Icom and Johanna Evans filed a lawsuit on June 11, 2015 in Delaware Superior Court relating to Mr. Evans’ alleged asbestos exposure. Foster Wheeler removed the matter to federal court on August 4, 2015, pursuant to the federal officer removal statute. Defendants Foster Wheeler and Warren Pumps filed motions for summary judgment in October 2016. Both motions were opposed. The district court issued a Report and Recommendation (R&R) on August 30, 2017, recommending that the motions be granted pursuant to maritime law,…
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Federal Court Denies Summary Judgment Under Massachusetts Statute of Repose, But Grants Defendants’ Motions on Other Grounds U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts, March 30, 2018

MASSACHUSETTS — The plaintiffs allege that the decedent, Wayne Oliver, developed mesothelioma from bystander exposure to asbestos during his work as a pipe inspector on the construction of two power plants in the 1970s. Defendant General Electric Company (GE) specified and produced steam turbine-generators for the power plants, and supervised their installation. Defendant NSTAR, formerly known as Boston Edison Company (NSTAR/BECO), owned one of the power plants during the time of the decedent’s work. The decedent worked for non-party Bechtel Corporation, who acted as the…
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Boiler Manufacturer’s Summary Judgment Reversed; Question of Fact on Product ID and Denial of Bare Metal Defense U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, April 2, 2018

CALIFORNIA — In this federal court case, the plaintiffs commenced an action in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania alleging the plaintiff’s decedent, Robert Hilt, was exposed to asbestos from numerous products, including Foster Wheeler boilers, on Navy ships . Foster Wheeler moved for and was granted summary judgment based on the finding that the plaintiff’s expert, Dr. Charles Ay’s, opinion was speculative.  Subsequently all other defendants either settled or were dismissed from the case. The plaintiff appealed the order granting Foster Wheeler summary judgment and…
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