Valve Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment as Court Finds No Evidence of Conspiracy

DELAWARE — Plaintiff Marguerite MacQueen filed claims in the Superior Court of Delaware against defendant Crane Co., among others, for manufacturing products that exposed her late husband David MacQueen to asbestos during his time aboard the USS Randolph and USS Independence in the United States Navy from 1956 to 1960, and during his time as a salesman for the Union Carbide Corporation from 1963 to 1980.  Crane subsequently removed the matter to federal court on federal officer jurisdiction.

Crane moved for summary judgment on the only existing count against it, civil conspiracy. The court recommended granting Crane’s motion for two reasons. It first found that the plaintiff’s conspiracy count alleged a conspiracy between Metropolitan Life and various defendants, not between Crane and the United States Navy, as the plaintiff alleged in her briefs responsive to Crane’s summary judgment motion. “A plaintiff cannot raise a claim for the first time at the summary judgment stage if it was not included in the complaint.”  Secondly, the court determined that the plaintiff failed to present any facts supporting the argument that there was a conspiracy between Crane and the Navy to commit a wrong against Mr. MacQueen. Specifically, the court determined that the documents supporting Crane’s removal did not show any nefarious intent on the part of the Navy, nor any direct communication between Crane and the Navy regarding the suppression of warnings.

Read the full decision here.