Intentional Tort and Fraud/Concealment Counts Dismissed for Several Defendants Court

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana , August 24, 2022

The Asbestos Case Tracker continues to cover the Becnel matter, in which the plaintiffs allege James Becnel was exposed to asbestos at the Avondale Shipyards in 1965.   

For purposes of these motions, the plaintiff alleged intentional tort and fraud/concealment counts against the defendants. Recently, several defendants filed for partial summary judgment on these counts the court granted.  

With regard to the intentional tort claim, the plaintiff argued that a motion for summary judgment “is not appropriate on the issue of intent.” However, the court stated that a court should not be precluded “from evaluating the merits of such a motion or granting summary judgment where elusive concepts such as motive or intent are at issue.” Further, “[t]o prove an intentional tort, plaintiffs must show that each individual defendant either consciously desired that the decedent contract primary lung cancer or knew that the result was substantially certain to follow from its conduct.” The court pointed to Cortez, where the “evidence was not enough to suggest Avondale intended to harm him, or that his mesothelioma was inevitable or incapable of failing.” Similar to Cortez, the evidence here “fall[s] far short of what is necessary to raise a material issue for an intentional-tort claim.” Thus, “Plaintiffs have not submitted any evidence suggesting that any defendant consciously intended to harm [Plaintiff’, or that his primary lung cancer was inevitable or incapable of failing.”  

With regard to the fraud/concealment claim, the court set forth that the plaintiffs have not presented any evidence to fulfill the requisite element of fraudulent intent.” Under Shelton v. Standard/700 Assocs., “Louisiana law requires proof of a defendant’s intent to obtain an unjust advantage or to cause damage or inconvenience to another.” Here, “Plaintiffs have not pointed to any evidence which would allow for the reasonable inference that the defendants acted with a fraudulent state of mind.”  

Thus, the court granted the summary judgment motions.   

Read the full decision here