Date of First Purchase Creates Material Fact Dispute, Automotive Supplier’s Motion for Summary Judgment Denied

WASHINGTON — The plaintiff Eric Klopman-Baerselman originally filed suit in state court on behalf of the plaintiff’s decedent Rudie Klopman-Baerselman, alleging that his exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold, or distributed by the defendants substantially contributed to his mesothelioma. The defendants subsequently removed the case to federal court. The allegations against the moving the defendant, O’Reilly Automotive Stores, Inc. (O’Reilly) are that the plaintiff’s decedent was exposed to asbestos-containing brakes, clutches, and gaskets purchased at Schuck’s, an entity under the O’Reilly umbrella.

O’Reilly moved for summary judgment, arguing that as a “mere product seller, it is immune from liability under RCW 7.72.040.” A key component of the The Tort Reform Act, which includes RCW 7.72.040, is that it applies to claims arising on or after July 26, 1981. O’Reilly contends that the store in question in Camas, Washington, did not open until 1999 and therefore falls under the act.  The plaintiffs, in their answers to interrogatories and deposition testimony, offered evidence that the plaintiff’s decedent may have purchased asbestos-containing brakes, clutches, and gaskets from a Shuck’s “in and around Camas, Washington” as early as 1980.

The court held that this created a genuine issue of material fact “requiring a jury to resolve differing versions of the truth.”  The court denied O’Reilly’s motion.

Only the Westlaw citation is currently available at 2019 WL 1199448.