Plant Walkthroughs Insufficient to Establish Causation against Construction and Insulation Defendants United States District Court M.D. North Carolina, December 11, 2018
NORTH CAROLINA — In granting summary judgment for Daniel International Corporation and Covil Corporation, a district court judge in North Carolina determined that the plaintiff’s causation evidence was insufficient to meet the frequency, regularity, and proximity standards of the jurisdiction. In 1965, Daniel constructed a polyester production facility for Fiber Industries, a/k/a Hoechst Celanese, in Salisbury North Carolina, and kept workers on site for maintenance following completion of the construction. Covil supplied asbestos-containing insulation for the facility.
Decedent Charles Connor worked at the site from 1966-1982, largely as a training and development supervisor. Plaintiff alleged that Connor was exposed to asbestos through his work at Fiber Industries, causing his fatal mesothelioma. Witness testimony established that Connor periodically walked through production facilities where Daniel employees worked with Covil insulation, and that he observed them doing their work, but that he primarily worked 200 feet away in a separate building. The court concluded that this testimony was insufficient to establish causation, as it did not “introduce evidence of Mr. Connor’s exposure to an asbestos-containing product, for which Covil and Daniel are liable, ‘over some extended period of time in proximity to where [Mr. Connor] actually worked.'”