The law concept background.

NYCAL Judge Finds Jurisdiction Over Automotive Defendant and Denies Summary Judgment

Court: Supreme Court of New York, New York County

In this asbestos action, defendant Western Auto moved to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction and for summary judgment. Plaintiff Winfield Frederick opposed both motions. Ultimately, the court denied both motions.

With regard to the motion for personal jurisdiction, the court set forth that the defendant “did not even allege that it does not have contacts with the State of New York, and it is undisputed that defendant Western placed products into the stream of commerce.” As such, the court found that its basis for specific jurisdiction was not contested. In addition, plaintiff submitted evidence of Western’s contacts with the State of New York.

With regard to the motion for summary judgment, the court first noted that “summary judgment is a drastic remedy and should only be granted if the moving party has sufficiently established that it is warranted as a matter of law.” Further, “summary judgment is rarely granted in negligence actions unless there is no conflict at all in the evidence.” Thereafter, the court explained that Dyer v. Amchem is the appropriate standard for summary judgment in New York. In Dyer, the defendants met their burden “by affirmatively prov[ing], as a matter of law, that there was no causation.”

Here, the court found that Western did not meet its burden on summary judgment as it merely “pointed to Plaintiff’s evidence.” In addition, Western’s corporate representative affidavit did “not demonstrate the requisite personal knowledge” to show that plaintiff could not have been exposed to asbestos from specific brakes manufactured or sold by Western. In addition, Western did not establish that the brakes they sold from the late 1950s through the early 1970s could not still have been in circulation during plaintiff’s work in the late 1970s through the 1990s.

Thus, the court denied the motions.

Read the full decision here.