Component Part Supplier Successfully Excludes Expert Testimony Regarding Failure to Warn United States District Court, D. Delaware, July 19, 2019

DELAWARE – The plaintiff Icom Henry Evans worked as a fireman and boiler tender in the United States Navy from 1957 to 1967. He filed suit and alleged that his fatal mesothelioma was caused in part by exposure to asbestos-containing gaskets and packing that were manufactured, sold, distributed, licensed, or installed by John Crane, Inc. (JCI).  JCI moved the court to exclude testimony offered by the plaintiffs’ expert Captain Arnold Moore, a marine engineering authority. They contended that Captain Moore lacked expertise to interpret relevant documents such as the Navy’s qualified product list, because he never oversaw the procurement of parts as part of his duties in the Navy. JCI further contended that Captain Moore had no medical or industrial hygiene expertise, that he should not be permitted to offer an opinion on Evans’ exposures to asbestos and that he had insufficient experience to offer an opinion regarding JCI’s alleged requirement to warn of potential hazards of use of their gaskets and packing.

The court denied the motion in part and granted it in part. The court noted that the third circuit liberally construes the requirements necessary for qualification as an expert, and stated that any lack of experience that Captain Moore might have in the direct procurement of parts should go to the weight of the evidence, not the admissibility. The court also allowed Captain Moore’s opinion regarding Evans’ exposures, and found that JCI had not met its burden of showing that the testimony was based on insufficient facts or data given the expert’s reliance on Evans’ deposition testimony regarding his exposures and ship records.

However, the court granted JCI’s motion with regard to Captain Moore’s opinions regarding warnings. The court found that the documents relied upon by the expert to demonstrate the existence of a warning requirement did not govern component parts, such as the gaskets and packing manufactured by JCI. Thus, Captain Moore’s opinion that the Navy required its equipment manufacturers to warn of hazards associated with the equipment was not relevant to establishing JCI’s alleged duty to warn.

Read the case decision here.

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