Pennsylvania Supreme Court to Consider Manufacturer’s Liability for Asbestos-Containing Component Parts

PENNSYLVANIA — The United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit submitted a Petition for Certification of Question Law on the following issues for consideration: (1) Whether, under Pennsylvania law, a manufacturer as a duty to warn about the hazards of asbestos relating to component parts it has neither manufactured or supplied and (2) if such a duty exists, what is the appropriate legal test to determine liability.

On October 26, 2017, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed to consider these issues and instructed parties …

Continue Reading

Possibility of Successor Liability Enough to Defeat Diversity Jurisdiction

The plaintiffs alleged Maynard Herman contracted mesothelioma due to occupational asbestos exposure. Defendants removed on the basis of diversity, and the plaintiffs moved to remand. The court granted the remand.

The defendants argued that defendant Ametek, Inc., although a citizen of Pennsylvania, was fraudulently joined to defeat diversity. The plaintiffs argued Ametek was not fraudulently joined because it was the successor for Mr. Herman’s exposure to asbestos products made by Haveg Industries. The plaintiffs acknowledged that when Ametek purchased Haveg, the agreement facially concerned only …

Continue Reading

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Reaffirms Betz Decision Rejecting Each and Every Exposure

In December of 2010, a Philadelphia jury awarded a verdict in the amount of $14.5 million to the widow, and executrix of the estate, of James Nelson. Nelson had previously developed mesothelioma and passed away at age 54 in 2009.

The defendants appealed the verdict, arguing that the plaintiff failed to meet the sufficient standard of causation under Pennsylvania law. The defendants specifically argued that the trial court improperly allowed plaintiff’s expert to testify that each and every exposure must be considered a substantially contributing …

Continue Reading

“Discovery Rule” Applied for Plaintiffs’ Claim to Survive Two-Year Statue of Limitations

The plaintiffs asserted that the decedent, Joseph Conneen, was exposed to asbestos while working as a pipefitter and plumber from 1962-80 at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard and Rohm and Haas. The decedent died of lung cancer. The complaint was filed on January 20, 2015. In March 2015, the case was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania as part of MDL-875. Defendant Goulds moved for summary judgment on the basis of Pennsylvania’s two-year statute of limitations. The court denied this …

Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Affirmed Against School Board Where Exception to Immunity Applied

The plaintiffs filed suit against 40 defendants and the Pittsburgh School District Board of Public Education (PBE). The plaintiffs contended the defendants were responsible for Ms. Geier contracting mesothelioma while she worked as a school teacher at South Hill High School from 1959-59. During discovery, Ms. Geier stated in an affidavit that she was occupationally exposed to 1) pipe coverings, 2) floor tile, 3) drywall, and 4) joint compound.

At the close of discovery, PBE moved for summary judgment and asserted the defense of governmental …

Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Affirmed in Favor of Successor Premises Owner Where Bankruptcy Code Extinguished Claims

Jacqueline and Thomas Wagner filed suit against Standard Steel LLC for Ms. Wagner’s alleged development of mesothelioma as a result of take home exposure from the work clothes of her husband. Mr. Wagner worked as a laborer and crane operator at Freedom Forge from 1970-72. Freedom Forge filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2001. Appellee Standard Steel LLC purchased the sale of Freedom Forge’s assets in 2002. The bankruptcy court confirmed the sale and found: 1) the sale price was fair and reasonable at an …

Continue Reading

Summary Judgment Affirmed Where Plaintiff Fails to Demonstrate the Frequency, Regularity, or Proximity of Decedent’s Alleged Exposure

Appellant James Floyd, Jr.’s Father, James Floyd Sr. (the decedent), passed away after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mr. Floyd alleged that the decedent was exposed to various asbestos-containing products, including AstenJohnson, Inc.’s dryer felts, while the decedent was employed at Sun Oil from 1939-1951 and at Scott Paper from 1951-1984. AstenJohnson made dryer felts used on paper machines that contained asbestos until 1980. Appellant provided deposition testimony that he worked with the decedent at Scott Paper from 1977-1984. Appellant testified that the decedent replaced …

Continue Reading

Death of Statutory Beneficiary During Pendency of Jones Act Claim Did Not Extinguish Jones Act Claims; Estate Could Recover Benefit

Defendant Thompson Hine filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff’s Jones Act survival claims abated due to no statutory beneficiary. The court denied the motion.

The plaintiff alleged that the decedent, Joseph Braun, was exposed to asbestos during his work aboard ships owned by the defendants and died from an asbestos-related disease. This case was originally filed in 1989 and asserted claims under the Jones Act and general maritime common law. In April 2011, the case was transferred to MDL 875 as …

Continue Reading

Non-Malignant but Not Malignant Claims Part of Bankruptcy Estate

This case is part of the consolidated asbestos products liability multidistrict litigation (MDL 875), and is on the court’s maritime docket. The plaintiffs alleged the decedent William Lawrence was exposed to asbestos while working aboard various ships. Ship owners represented by Thomson Hine (the defendants) filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied.

In 1996, Mr. Lawrence brought claims for non-malignant asbestos-related disease against various defendants, including the defendant ship owners. Two months later, Mr. Lawrence filed for bankruptcy and did not list …

Continue Reading

Ford’s Denial of Nonsuit Affirmed; Improper Consolidation of Meso Cases Did Not Warrant New Trial

Richard and Joyce Rost filed this action against multiple defendants, including Ford Motor Company, alleging that Mr. Rost developed mesothelioma as a result of his work around asbestos products. The plaintiff worked at Smith Motors as “gofer” assisting mechanics with the removal of brake shoe linings 3-5 times per week after graduating from high school. Further, the plaintiff contended that 85-95 percent of the vehicles were manufactured by Ford. The parties stipulated that Ford vehicles utilized asbestos brakes and clutches for its vehicles made from …

Continue Reading