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HVAC Defendant Summary Judgment Motion on Causation Grounds Denied

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Court: Supreme Court of New York, New York County (NYCAL)

In this asbestos action, defendant SPX Cooling Technologies Inc., individually and as successor to Marley Cooling Technologies Inc., moved for summary judgment, arguing that plaintiffs failed to establish causation, and that defendant established a prima facie case for a lack thereof under Nemeth.

In its decision denying the motion, the court noted that Marley misstated plaintiff’s burden, as the standard set forth in Nemeth “represent[ed] an extraordinary post-trial remedy to set aside a jury verdict, rather than the well settled burden on a motion for summary judgment.” The court further noted that, at summary judgment, plaintiff’s opposition need only raise a triable issue of fact concerning specific causation.

According to the court, the appropriate standard on a motion for summary judgment for a defendant on causation grounds can be found in Dyer v. AmChem Products Inc. In Dyer, defendants were granted summary judgment “not by simply arguing that plaintiff could not affirmatively prove causation” but, as a matter of law, “affirmatively proving that there was no causation.” As such, the court found that Marley failed to meet its burden as set forth in Dyer because Marley offered no expert opinions, reports, or other evidence upon which to base its claim that there was no causation.

Ultimately, the court found that plaintiff provided “clear and unequivocal testimony” regarding his exposure history to Marley products by proffering three expert reportsregarding quantification of asbestos exposure, causation analysis, and pathology and medical history. The court held that this was “more than sufficient” to raise issues of fact as to causation. For these reasons, Marley’s motion was denied.  

Read the full decision here.