Evidence of Prior Asbestos Lawsuits Against Defendant Discoverable

KENTUCKY – The plaintiffs, Jack and Holly Papineau, filed a lawsuit against several defendants alleging damages suffered from exposure to asbestos. The plaintiffs filed a motion to compel the defendant Honeywell to supplement answers to interrogatories and requests for production, specifically regarding prior lawsuits. After oral argument, the court requested that the plaintiffs narrow the scope of their supplemental requests. The plaintiffs complied, requesting information and documents pertaining to all lawsuits filed against Honeywell wherein the claimant alleged an asbestos-related disease from exposure to Honeywell friction products containing asbestos where exposure occurred prior to 2002.

Honeywell objected to the plaintiffs’ supplemental requests as not relevant, and therefore, not discoverable. The court did not agree, stating “the range of relevant discoverable evidence is much broader than evidence that may later be admitted at trial. Generally, something is discoverable if it appears reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence.” While the same discovery may not be admissible at trial, it is discoverable for several purposes, including punitive damages, knowledge of the defendant, or to show the danger of the product and cause of the accident.

The court found Honeywell erroneously focused its argument on the admissibility of the evidence rather the discoverability. Admissibility at trial is not the issue before the court. Therefore, the court granted the plaintiffs’ motion and ordered Honeywell to produce documents and provide responses to the plaintiffs’ supplemental requests.

Read the case decision here.