judge with gavel

Plaintiff unable to provide any legitimate evidence against motions for summary judgment

United States District Court of the District of Nevada, September 19, 2022

The plaintiff commenced this action in early 2020 by filing his Complaint against 13 defendants.  He suffers from mesothelioma and alleged exposure through his father, James Potter.  James Potter served in the United States Air Force as an aircraft mechanic.  He routinely worked on aircraft engines and was responsible for the repair and maintenance of hoses, clamps, grommets, gaskets, fire sleeves, and brakes, among other aircraft components.  The plaintiff alleged these various parts contained asbestos and his father’s inadvertent take home exposure caused his mesothelioma.  He specifically brought negligence, strict liability, civil conspiracy, and false representation claims in this action.  

The defendants Arrowhead Products and Industrial Manufacturing Company filed their respective motions for summary judgment in January 2022.  The defendant Industrial Manufacturing Company is a holding company and has thus never manufactured, produced, or distributed any product.  The defendant Arrowhead Products is a wholly owned subsidiary of Industrial Manufacturing Company that produces aerospace ducting systems and rocket propulsion lines.   

During discovery, the plaintiff disclosed three documents containing the names of products and parts to the defendants.  He alleged his exposure to respirable asbestos was traceable to these two defendants through the products found in the documents.  The three documents included an F-111E (long-range all-weather strike aircraft) Technical Manual from 1970; a structural description report for the F-111A, FB-111A, and F-111E (aircrafts) from 1970; and a technical manual including an illustrated parts breakdown for aircraft engine USAF model TF30-P-3.  Crucially, none of the Arrowhead products found in the F-111A, FB-111A, F-111E aircrafts, or TF30-P-3 engine contained asbestos.  Moreover, neither the plaintiff nor his father or any Air Force co-worker identified a single Arrowhead or Industrial Manufacturing Product during their respective depositions.  Likewise, none of the plaintiff’s five expert witnesses could identify a product associated with either defendant.  

The court found “There is no evidence in the record from which a reasonable jury could conclude that but for the defendant’s negligence, the plaintiff’s injuries would not have occurred, because the plaintiff has not connected his harm (asbestos-related cancer) to Arrowhead Products.”  It also determined the plaintiff failed to produce any evidence to demonstrate direct or indirect exposure from defendant Arrowhead.  The court also dismissed the plaintiff’s strict liability claims, finding the undisputed evidence established there were no asbestos-containing products traceable to either Arrowhead or Industrial Manufacturing Company.  

Likewise, the court determined plaintiff failed to establish his civil conspiracy claim as well.  The plaintiff could not demonstrate that the defendants undertook “a concerted action with the intent to commit an unlawful objective” resulting in his injury.  Finally, the court noted that the plaintiff did not challenge defendant Industrial Manufacturing Company’s repeated assertions that it was a holding company and not a corporate successor to Arrowhead Products.  As such, the plaintiff did not refute the general rule stating holding companies are not liable for their wholly owned subsidiaries.  The court determined all of the plaintiff’s claims against Arrowhead and Industrial failed and thus granted both defendants’ motions for summary judgment.  

Read the full decision here