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Automobile Manufacturer Denied Summary Judgment as Corporate Representative Affidavit Deemed Insufficient

Court: Supreme Court of New York, New York County

In this asbestos action, the defendant, Francesco Carboni, alleged asbestos exposure working on automobiles for Zumbach Sports Cars. The defendant, Porsche Cars North America, moved for summary judgment, arguing that the decedent was not exposed to asbestos from any PCNA products. The plaintiff Susan Carboni opposed PCNA’s motion.

PCNA argued that it could not be liable for any alleged exposure in this case as the decedent testified that he last worked on Porsche automobiles in 1981 or 1982, which pre-dates PCNA’s incorporation. In support of its motion, PCNA submitted a corporate representative affidavit stating that PCNA imported and distributed Porsche-brand vehicles in the United States beginning in August 1984.

However, the court agreed with the plaintiff’s contention that the corporate representative affidavit failed to demonstrate his personal knowledge of the facts. The trial court set forth New York Appellate Division precedent, stating “the personal knowledge requirement of affidavits for summary judgment motions cannot be satisfied where the affiant’s knowledge has been gained from unnamed and unsworn employees or from unidentified and unproduced work records.” In this matter, the court held that PCNA “failed to produce any authenticated documents to support the statements by the affiant, as no evidence has been proffered by PCNA in support of [the corporate representative’s] affidavit or in support of the instant motion.” As such, the trial court found that the affidavit was “insufficient to demonstrate that Decedent was not exposed to asbestos by a product manufactured or made by Porsche.” Further, the court determined that a question of fact remained as the decedent stipulated that he was last exposed to asbestos in 1985, one year after PCNA began importing and distributing Porsche cars. Thus, the court denied summary judgment.

Read the full decision here.