Gasket Manufacturers’ Motions for Summary Judgment and Motion to Change Venue Denied in Naval Exposure Case

In this federal court case, the plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos in various products through the course of his employment in the 1960s and 1970s. He specifically alleged asbestos exposure from working with gaskets manufactured by Excelsior Packing & Gasket Company and Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company while serving in the Navy from 1970 to 1975 aboard the U.S.S. Surfbird and U.S.S. Hector. On both ships, the plaintiff’s duties included replacing gaskets on pumps, valves, and boilers. He testified to changing flange gaskets on pumps hundreds of times and identified both Goodyear and Excelsior, who moved for summary judgment.

The court denied both motions. Regarding Goodyear, the court held: “Plaintiff’s testimony with respect to Goodyear gaskets establishes more than just minimal contact. For approximately three years, Plaintiff regularly maintained, repaired and installed gaskets. Goodyear admits that it manufactured asbestos-containing gaskets. Although Goodyear contends it ceased manufacturing asbestos-containing gaskets in 1969, records indicate that Goodyear products were aboard naval vessels as late as 1973. The Court finds that there are material factual issues remaining in this case.”

Regarding Excelsior, the court held: “Excelsior asserts that there is no testimony or other evidence to create a genuine dispute of fact regarding Plaintiff’s exposure to any asbestos-containing products attributable to Excelsior. The Court disagrees. Plaintiff has provided evidence establishing ‘frequency, regularity, and proximity’ to Excelsior asbestos-containing products. Plaintiff specifically recalled using Excelsior prefabbed and sheet gaskets during his naval service. He described replacing countless number of gaskets on pumps, valves, and boilers. The process of installing gaskets created dust which he inhaled.”

In another decision, the court also denied the motion of Ingersoll-Rand Company, which was joined in by defendants BorgWarner and Morse Tec, Inc., to transfer venue to the United States District Court for the District of Alaska pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1404(a). In its denial the court stated: “Although Defendants argue that convenience and the ‘interest of justice’ dictate transferring this action to Alaska, other than Defendants’ conclusory assertions and suppositions, there has been no showing that any witnesses or evidence are unavailable for trial in this district. Nor do Defendants claim that the reasons for which they now seek transfer have arisen only recently, and were not present from the beginning of the case. The Court finds Defendants’ arguments particularly dubious given the length of time this case has been pending and the upcoming February 22, 2016, trial date.”

Read the first decision here.

Read the second decision here.

Read the third decision here.