Georgia Declines to Accept Duty to Warn of Another Manufacturer’s Product Theory

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GEORGIA — In their consolidated appeal, the Court of Appeals of Georgia considered whether the plaintiff, Leisa Davis sufficient evidence to create an issue of fact that her deceased husband, John Davis was exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by John Crane, Inc. (JCI) and FMC Corporation (FMC) during his employment at a fiberboard mill. JCI and FMC were both granted summary judgment by the trial court.

The plaintiff contends that summary judgment was improper for JCI because she met her burden by showing her husband was exposed to asbestos-containing products manufactured by JCI while working at the mill. Crucially, John Davis himself affirmed during his deposition testimony that he used JCI asbestos packing material. He further testified about observing warnings on the JCI packaging, including labels that advised the user to wear a mask and safety goggles. Accordingly, “there was evidence of record that tended to show that Davis was exposed to John Crane asbestos-containing products during his employment at Louisiana Pacific… At this stage, Davis’s testimony was sufficient to withstand summary judgment.” Therefore, the trial court’s order was reversed.

In her case against FMC, the plaintiff sought to hold FMC liable for injuries caused by “third-party asbestos-containing replacement parts used in industrial pumps manufactured by its subsidiary,” which Davis regularly maintained at the mill. Specifically, the plaintiff contends that the trial court erred in granting summary judgment to FMC on her negligent design and failure to warn claims because “it was foreseeable that the pumps would require asbestos-containing replacement parts as a result of regular wear and tear, and that such foreseeability was sufficient to impose liability on FMC.” The Appeals Court disagreed, stating that they “decline to advance such a theory of liability in Georgia.” Accordingly, FMC’s summary judgment was affirmed.

Read the case decision here.