Sealant Manufacturer Granted Summary Judgment in Shipyard Case

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, February 1, 2021

Plaintiff William Hulin Sr. was diagnosed with lung cancer and alleged that he was exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment at Avondale Shipyards. He sued numerous defendants, including Bayer CropScience, as successor to AmChem Products, Inc. in state court, and his case was subsequently removed to federal court in the Eastern District of Louisiana.

Bayer moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff had not introduced evidence showing that he was exposed to any of Bayer’s asbestos products, let alone that such exposure was ‘significant,” which was required under the relevant standard: “[t]o succeed on his asbestos claim against Bayer under Louisiana law, plaintiff must show (1) that his exposure to defendant’s asbestos products was significant and (2) the exposure caused or was a substantial factor in bringing about his disease.” See Robertson v. Doug Ashy Bldg. Materials, Inc., 77 So. 3d 360, 372 (La. App. 1 Cir. 2011), writ denied, 77 So. 3d 973 (La. 2012); see also Rando v. Anco Insulations, Inc., 16 So. 3d 1065, 1988, 1091 (La. 2009).

In support of its motion, Bayer submitted the affidavit of a gentleman who worked at its predecessor company between 1959 and 1976. He attested that the company sold non-friable pre-mixed adhesives, sealants, coatings, and mastic products, and were all wet—with viscosities similar to latex paint, honey, glue, or paste. While the plaintiff was deposed on three separate occasions, he never testified that he came into contact with any of these products. Rather, his testimony was that insulation, and smoke or dust, arising from same, was the source of his asbestos exposure. The plaintiff did not oppose the motion.

On this, the court found that the plaintiff had not submitted any evidence to show that he was exposed any product for which Bayer held liability, and therefore the plaintiff was also unable to establish causation (i.e. that exposure was a substantial causative factor in the development of his disease). As such, Bayer’s motion was granted.