In this case pending in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, the plaintiffs’ third count of their complaint alleges reckless conduct by the defendants and seeks punitive damages. Defendant Aurora Pump Company moved to dismiss this count, arguing that the plaintiff failed to assert specific allegations of recklessness. The court noted, however, that the plaintiff alleges that the defendants manufactured, distributed, sold or otherwise placed into the stream of commerce products which contained asbestos and that the defendants intentionally and fraudulently concealed the dangers of breathing asbestos from plaintiff and the public. Aurora responded that these allegations are “nothing more than allegations of negligence,” and the plaintiff’s complaint lacks allegations setting out “highly unreasonable conduct” giving rise to a valid recklessness claim.
The court, looking to a case involving New York law which employs a comparable recklessness standard, noted that “imputed knowledge of the dangers of asbestos combined with inadequate protection of product users may be sufficient to subject a defendant manufacturer or distributor of asbestos containing products to punitive damages.” The court denied the motion to dismiss finding that the plaintiff’s third count adequately alleges recklessness as a matter of law.