Auto Manufacturer’s Motion for Summary Judgment Denied on Reargument

Posted by

Supreme Court of New York, New York County, December 29, 2021

In this asbestos action, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reargue a previous decision that granted defendant Nissan’s motion for summary judgment based on misidentification of their product. By way of background, Nissan argued that Nissan brand vehicles could not have contributed to the plaintiff’s alleged asbestos exposure because Nissan did not manufacture Nissan brand vehicles until three years after the plaintiff’s alleged exposure. The court agreed and granted Nissan’s motion for summary judgement. Subsequently, the plaintiffs filed a motion to reargue, stating that the court overlooked or misapprehended the facts of the case. Specifically, the plaintiffs argued that while the plaintiff did not testify to working on Nissan brand vehicles, he did testify to working on Datsun brand vehicles. Further, the plaintiffs argued that it is well known to individuals with specialized knowledge in auto-mechanics, such as the plaintiff, that Nissan manufactured Datsun brand vehicles. As such, a question of fact exists as to whether the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos by way of Nissan. In opposition, Nissan argued that the court did not misapprehend the law or facts in its prior decision and that the plaintiffs raised a new fact not made in the prior motion.

Here, the court agreed with the plaintiffs, finding that Nissan’s heavy reliance on the words “Nissan brand” vehicles led the court to misapprehend the facts of the case. The court first cited to the plaintiff’s deposition testimony where the plaintiff stated that he did brake jobs on Nissan vehicles but could not recall the specific models. Next, the court noted that the plaintiff testified to working on different parts of a Nissan vehicle and that he “guess[ed]” the different parts could be manufactured by Nissan. As such, the court stated that a question of fact still exists as to whether the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos through products, either vehicles or parts, manufactured by Nissan. Thus, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion to reargue, and Nissan’s original motion for summary judgment was denied.

Read the full decision here.