Court Grants Unopposed Motion for Summary Judgment for Pump Manufacturer

GEORGIA – In Sheila Carter, Individually and as Executrix of the Estate of James R. Carter v. 3M, et al., the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia granted a pump manufacturer’s (the defendant) motion for summary judgment due to the plaintiff’s failure to oppose the motion. This action alleged that the decedent James R. Carter developed lung cancer as a result of his exposure to asbestos during his career at the ITT Rayonier Plant in Jesup, Georgia from 1968 through 2010. Carter was not deposed before his death, but a coworker offered testimony regarding Carter’s asbestos exposure during this employment. The coworker testified that while he observed pumps manufactured by the defendant at the facility, he did not have a specific recollection of Carter being near pumps while they were being fixed or replaced by maintenance. He also could not offer any testimony that Carter worked on the defendant’s pumps at the ITT Rayonier Plant, and did not offer any testimony that any of the defendant’s pumps contained asbestos.

In the court’s review of the claims against the defendant for negligence and strict liability, it held that under the ruling in Williams v. Flintkote Co., 568 S.E.2d 106 (Ga. Ct. App. 2002), the plaintiff’s claims failed as a matter of law. The court held that like the Williams decision, the record did not contain any evidence that the defendant’s products at the ITT Rayonier Plant in Jesup, Georgia contained asbestos. The court further opined that the defendant showed that there was an absence of a genuine issue of material fact as to whether it manufactured asbestos-containing products to which Carter was exposed. As the defendant met its burden, the court held that the burden then shifted to the plaintiff to show evidence to create a genuine dispute of a material fact. However, as the plaintiff failed to respond to the defendant’s motion, the plaintiff did not meet her burden as required by the court.

Therefore, the court granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

Read the case decision here.