Summary Judgment Granted upon Plaintiff’s Failure to Establish Replacement Parts Supplied by Valve Defendant Superior Court of Delaware, July 12, 2017

Plaintiff brought this action against several defendants including Fairbanks Company alleging exposure to asbestos while working with Defendant’s valves. Specifically, Plaintiff recalled working with globe, gate and ball valves for various employers and locations. Plaintiff also testified that he replaced packing in the valves and personally removed external insulation to repair the valves. Plaintiff assumed that the packing he encountered contained asbestos based on the high heat application of the equipment.

Fairbanks argued that no evidence pointed to it having made asbestos packing Plaintiff encountered. Plaintiff countered and relied on interrogatories whereby some valves required asbestos. Plaintiff further pointed to catalogs that “specifically and regularly called for the use of asbestos gaskets packing.” Defendant also argued that it had no duty to warn Plaintiff of the dangers of asbestos parts made by another manufacturer. The Court stated that the Plaintiff is required to prove 1) the defendant’s products contained asbestos (product identification) 2) that the victim was exposed to asbestos in the defendant’s product (exposure) and 3) that such exposure was a substantial contributing factor in causing harm to the victim (substantial factor).

Although Plaintiff put forth evidence that Fairbanks’ gaskets and packing originally contained asbestos in its valves, Plaintiff had not proved that those encountered by Plaintiff were manufactured by Fairbanks. In fact, the record showed that the gaskets and packing had been changed prior to Plaintiff’s work. Simply put, nothing showed that the parts were supplied or made by Fairbanks. Denying summary judgment under these circumstances would be tantamount to speculation for jury purposes. Accordingly, summary judgment was granted in favor of Fairbanks.

Read the full decision here.

A similar decision for Cleaver-Brooks was previously reported. View here.

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