Retail Distributer’s Motion for Summary Judgment on Product-Identification Grounds Denied

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Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, November 9, 2022

In this asbestos matter, the plaintiffs alleged that the decedent, Gail Chandler, developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant, Parts Warehouse, a retail distributer, sold asbestos-containing parts to the decedent and/or the decedent’s employer, and that these parts caused the decedent to be exposed to asbestos. The plaintiffs further argued that Parts Warehouse also had liability for parts obtained through its alternative entity; Lamus-Lundlee Co. Parts Warehouse filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs could not establish that Parts Warehouse or Lamus-Lundlee did, in fact, provide asbestos-containing products to the decedent or his employer.

In support of its motion, Parts Warehouse argued that the plaintiff only identified Borg Warner clutches as asbestos-containing products that Parts Warehouse allegedly sold. Parts Warehouse relied on the declaration of its former president, Bob Glyer, who stated that the identified Borg Warner clutches could not have contained asbestos because Parts Warehouse only sold non-asbestos containing clutches. Glyer further stated that after Parts Warehouse and Lamus-Lundlee merged in 1996, Lamus-Lundlee obtained Borg Warner clutches from Parts Warehouse, which continued to sell only non-asbestos containing clutches. Finally, Glyer affirmed that Parts Warehouse had no record of the decedent or his employer ever being customers of either company.

The court ultimately found that the plaintiffs raised challenges to the sufficiency and accuracy of Glyer’s declaration sufficient to defeat a summary judgment motion. First, Glyer’s affidavit failed to confirm whether Lamus-Lundlee purchased Borg Warner clutches from sources other than Parts Warehouse. Second, evidence demonstrated that Borg Warner did not start distributing non-asbestos containing clutches until 1988, and Glyer admitted that he could not contradict evidence that Parts Warehouse may have supplied asbestos-containing clutches prior to this point. The court found this point particularly convincing, as the decedent alleged to have been exposed to asbestos-containing parts as early as 1980. Finally, the court also noted that the decedent alleged exposure to other asbestos-containing parts provided by Parts Warehouse, and that Glyer did not address whether any other product allegedly distributed by Parts Warehouse to the decedent or his employer was asbestos-free. For these reasons, Parts Warehouse’s motion for summary judgment was denied.

Read the full decision here.