Plaintiff Waived Choice of Law Causation Issue; Kansas Law Applied to California Case

CALIFORNIA — The plaintiff Gerald Hake was born in Kansas and allegedly exposed to asbestos from friction products from age 10 until age 19 while working at the family-owned Hake Standard Service Station. In 1962, he joined the Navy; he then moved to Washington state in 1966. He lived in that state until the present time. The case went to trial against Honeywell and BorgWarner  in the state of California.

The parties filed a series of motions to apply either Washington or Kansas law to the case. The court granted Honeywell’s motion to apply Kansas law to the issues of causation, noneconomic damages and apportionment. The plaintiff then filed a motion to apply Washington law to noneconomic damages, arguing that Washington’s interest outweighed Kansas’ in the matter. The court denied the motion because it had already ruled on the issue.

On appeal, the plaintiff for the first time argued that Washington law should be applied with request to causation. The California Court of Appeal affirmed the decision on the motion to apply Kansas law with regard to causation, ruling that the issue had been waived by the plaintiff. Specifically, the court found that the plaintiff initially requested the application of California law, and failed to timely raise the application of Washington law. The appellate court also affirmed the trial court’s granting of Honeywell’s motion for nonsuit, finding that plaintiff had satisfied his burden under California law, but not Kansas law.

Read the full case decision here.