Summary Judgment for Crane Manufacturer Based on Affidavit of Company Vice President

Plaintif Katherine Filosi, individually and as executor of the estate of Donald Filosi, filed a complaint against multiple defendants, including American Crane & Equipment Corporation (ACECO).  The plaintiff alleged that the decedent Donald Filosi was exposed to asbestos while employed by Boat Corporation (Electric Boat) as a rigger from 1961 to 1998 and, as a result of that exposure, he developed lung cancer and died.

Defendant ACECO moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff produced no evidence from which a jury could conclude that Mr. Filosi was ever exposed to asbestos from any product manufactured, distributed, or sold by ACECO.  ACECO argued that the cranes referenced by Mr. Filosi in his deposition bearing the name “American” were not manufactured by ACECO.  In support of its argument, ACECO submitted an affidavit by its Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and General Counsel and documents of ACECO.  The affidavit established that ACECO never manufactured boom crane, such as the ones referred to by Mr. Filosi.  Further, examination of ACECO’s billing and shipping records established that the only crane ACECO sold to Electric Boat was a highly specialized small crane used for lifting munitions onto a submarine; this crane did not contain asbestos or any asbestos containing components.  Finally, the affidavit stated that the defendant’s trade name is “ACECO” and the words “American” and “Crane” never appeared anywhere on any of ACECO’s cranes.

The court found that the “affidavit negates the Plaintiff’s claim that the injuries of the plaintiff’s decedent were caused by his exposure to asbestos through contact with ACECO’s products.”  The “only reasonable conclusion” that could be made by a jury on the basis of the affidavit is that the alleged injuries were not a result of his exposure to any product designed, manufactured, or sold by ACECO” and, therefore, the evidentiary burden shifts to the plaintiff to produce evidence to demonstrate that a genuine issue of material fact exists with respect to causation.

The court concluded that the evidence submitted by the plaintiff failed to demonstrate a genuine issue of material act with respect to causation because the plaintiff’s opposition “fails to address the specific statements made” in the affidavit and has no evidence “disputing the affidavit’s assertions that ACECO sold just one particular crane to Electric Boat and that this one crane did not contain asbestos or asbestos-containing products.”

Read the full decision here.