Insulation Installer’s Hourly Timesheets Found Legally Sufficient to Support Rational Inference of Causation in Bystander Matter Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, Circuit Court For Baltimore City, September 26, 2018
MARYLAND — The plaintiff William Busch and his wife, Kathleen, filed suit against multiple defendants, alleging that exposure to asbestos caused his mesothelioma. After a 14 day trial, the jury returned a verdict in favor of plaintiffs, finding that William’s exposure to asbestos-containing insulation products installed by Wallace & Gale Co. (W&G) during the construction of Loch Raven High School (LRHS), a location where plaintiff worked, was a substantial causative factor in the development of his mesothelioma. The plaintiff worked in the boiler room where W&G employees were cutting and installing asbestos-containing magnesia block insulation. W&G was the predecessor to Wallace and Gale Asbestos Settlement Trust (WGAST).
WGAST presented two questions on appeal, which the court broke down into five subparts: I. Whether there was legally sufficient evidence to support a rational inference of causation; II. Whether the circuit court erred and/or abused its discretion by permitting Busch to introduce evidence relating to the dismissal of McCormick Asbestos Company from the lawsuit; III. Whether the circuit court erred and/or abused its discretion by permitting Busch to introduce evidence of W&G’s insulation work at LRHS during a broader period of time than when Busch actually worked in the site; IV. Whether the circuit court erred and/or abused its discretion by declining to propound WGAST’s requested jury instruction on fiber drift; and V. Whether the circuit court erred and/or abused its discretion in association with its instructions about interrogatory responses and statements in the complaints.
WGAST argued that the plaintiff presented insufficient evidence upon which a reasonable jury could conclude that W&G was responsible for the supply and/or installation of asbestos-containing magnesia block during the construction of LRHS. The court held that the timesheets and invoices presented by the plaintiffs were enough evidence to lead a “reasonable fact finder to conclude that W&G was the primary, if not the only, insulator working at LRHS during the critical time period.”
The Appeals Court further held that the court did not abuse its discretion in its four evidentiary rulings.
The Appeals Court affirmed the judgments of the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.