Aircraft Manufacturer’s Opposition to Plaintiff’s Attempt to Apply English Law Granted

MARYLAND – The plaintiff, Richard Fullen, alleged that he developed mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos during his work as an aircraft mechanic in the United States Air Force from 1994 to 2016. The court ruled on three motions:

  1. Defendant Velan Valves’ unopposed motion for summary judgment
  2. The plaintiff’s motion to strike defendant Lockheed Martin’s fact witness designation
  3. Defendant Lockheed Martin’s motion for a determination of governing law

Both defense motions were granted but the plaintiff’s motion was denied.

Regarding the motion to strike, Lockheed had designated fact witness Matthew Morrison after the deadline for fact witness disclosure, but prior to the end of discovery. The plaintiff argued that the late disclosure was not substantially justified and would result in prejudice. The court found that the plaintiff had “ample opportunity” to correct any surprise or prejudice caused by the late designation, that Lockheed offered reasonable justification for the late designation, and that trial would not be disturbed because no date had been set.

Regarding the governing law motion, in a joint status report the plaintiff had indicated his intent to apply the law of England with respect to Lockheed as Fullen testified at deposition that he worked on Lockheed’s C-130 aircraft while he was stationed at RAF Middlefield Air Force Base in England from 1995 to 1999. Lockheed brought the instant motion and argued that the plaintiff had given insufficient notice of their intent to apply foreign law pursuant to FRCP 44.1. The court agreed, and noted that discovery was complete and the case was approaching the dispositive motion phase. They indicated that permitting the plaintiff to apply the law of England at this late stage would cause the kind of surprise that FRCP 44.1 was intended to prevent.

Read the case decision here.