Courtroom, Gavel And Law Books

Pipe Manufacturer Denied Summary Judgment in NYCAL

Supreme Court of New York, New York County

In this asbestos action, decedent Rudolf Horvath alleged that he was exposed to asbestos from Bondstrand pipes manufactured by the defendant, Ameron International. Ameron moved for summary judgment, arguing that its pipes could not have caused or contributed to the decedent’s injury. Ameron points to the decedent’s testimony that he worked with chemical pipes at a chemical plant in the West Side area of New York City. Ameron contends that the decedent could not have worked with Bondstrand pipes as the only sewage treatment plant on the West Side was built in 1985, a time period after which Bondstrand pipes did not contain asbestos. The plaintiff opposed Ameron’s motion, citing Horvath’s testimony identifying Bondstrand pipes prior to 1978, a time period during which Ameron manufactured asbestos-containing Bondstrand pipes. Horvath’s counsel also sets forth Horvath’s “declining condition due to mesothelioma at the time of his deposition, and his lack of commitment to a single, specific location or worksite of exposure.”

Ultimately, the court denied Ameron’s motion. The court first set forth the summary judgment standard. The court also noted that “[t]he proponent of a summary judgment motion must make a prima facie showing of entitlement to judgment as a matter of law … Despite the sufficiency of the opposing papers, the failure to make such a showing requires denial of the motion.” Further, “summary judgment is rarely granted in negligence actions unless there is no conflict at all in the evidence.” Here, the court determined that Horvath’s testimony as to his work in the West Side area “does not cancel out the rest of his unequivocal testimony clearly identifying the years of his exposure and Bondstrand pipes as a source of exposure as a matter of law.” As such, any determination of weight to be given to Horvath’s testimony should be left for the fact finder to decide. In addition, “Mr. Horvath’s specific identification of Bondstrand pipes, their relevant details, and his years of exposure is sufficient to raise questions of fact so as to preclude summary judgment.” Thus, the court denied Ameron’s motion for summary judgment.

Read the full decision here.