Defendants’ Motions for Summary Judgment Granted for Lack of Exposure Evidence and Opposition U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware, December 29, 2016
The plaintiffs brought this action against multiple defendants alleging Mr. Evans developed an asbestos related disease as a result of his exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy. Mr. Evans alleged that he worked as a fireman and boiler tender on-board the USS Kearsarge from 1957-61 and USS Bole in 1961. Mr. Evans believed that he had been exposed to asbestos from gaskets and refractory products while in the U.S. Navy. Mr. Evans also alleged that he had been exposed to brake dust while changing brakes on personal family vehicles. Defendant Foster Wheeler removed the case to the U.S. District Court on August 4, 2015. Defendants CBS Corporation, FMC Corporation, McNally, Crane, Union Carbide, Ingersoll Rand , and Western Auto moved for summary judgment. The plaintiff filed no opposition to those motions.
The court began its analysis with the standard for summary judgment. Summary judgment is appropriate when there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact. Further, the moving party bears the burden of proving the “absence of a disputed material fact.” The court also noted that the court may consider the fact undisputed or grant summary judgment when a party fails to respond to a party’s assertions. The parties agreed that maritime law applies in all sea based claims. The court also pointed out that the bare metal defense is recognized in maritime law.
In applying the standard for summary judgment, the court found that the plaintiff had not produced evidence establishing exposure to products of the defendants. In particular, the court noted that Mr. Evans stated that he “probably purchased” replacement brakes from Western Auto but was unable to prove that brakes from Western Auto were a substantial contributing factor of his injury as required by Colorado law. Crane claimed that its valves were made of metal and asserted the bare metal defense. As for the other defendants, the plaintiff simply put forth no evidence of exposure to their products. Accordingly, the court entered a recommendation for granting the defendants’ motions for summary judgment.