Failure to Adopt Safety Measures is Private Conduct That Implicates No Federal Interest U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, May 1, 2018
LOUISIANA — Several former employees of Huntington Ingalls, including Robert Templet, brought suit in Louisiana state court, alleging that the company failed to warn them of the risks of asbestos exposure and failed to implement proper safety procedures for handling asbestos. Templet worked for Huntington Ingalls from 1968 to 2002 and alleged his handling of asbestos-containing materials at various worksites from 1968-79 caused him to contract mesothelioma.
Huntington Ingalls removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. Section 1442(a)(1), alleging that the company used asbestos to construct vessels under government-mandated contract specifications. The Eastern Destruct remanded the case back to state court, and Huntington Ingalls appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit.
The Appeals Court recently examined this issue in Legendre v. Huntington Ingalls, Inc. — please see our detailed analysis. In Legendre, the Appeals Court confirmed that asbestos claims regarding negligent failure to warn, train, or implement safety procedures do not give rise to federal jurisdiction when unrebutted evidence shows that the government did nothing to direct the shipyard’s safety practice. The facts in Templet are the same as Legendre, and the Appeals Court affirmed the District Court’s order of remand.