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Three Manufacturers’ Motions for Summary Judgment Denied for Failure to Meet Initial Burden

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Supreme Court of New York, New York County (NYCAL)

In this asbestos action, defendants Union Carbide Corporation, Domco Product Texas Inc., and The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company moved separately for summary judgment on the basis that plaintiff Josip L. Radovic failed to identify them as manufacturers of any asbestos-containing products that he was allegedly exposed to during the course of his work as a laborer installing floor tiles in various buildings in the Rockefeller Center complex between 1970 and 1979. The court denied each motion.

Regarding Union Carbide, the plaintiff introduced depositions from other cases in which Union Carbide was identified as a supplier of asbestos-containing products at locations where Mr. Radovic worked. The plaintiff argued that such evidence raised issues of fact concerning the presence of Union Carbide’s products in the locations and time period of Mr. Radovic’s alleged exposure. In response, Union Carbide argued that Mr. Radovic did not mention Union Carbide specifically, and that other depositions should be disregarded. Ultimately, the court noted that “pointing to gaps in opponent’s evidence is insufficient to demonstrate a movant’s entitlement to summary judgment” and that Mr. Radovic had provided “clear and unequivocal details” regarding his work history, including that he worked at Rockefeller Center in the 1970s, that he worked as a floor tiler, and that he saw boxes labeled “asbestos” during his employment. The court further noted that Union Carbide made no attempt to meet their initial burden on a motion for summary judgment by proving that their products were not located at any of Mr. Radovic’s worksites or that they did not contain asbestos. Thus, Union Carbide failed to establish that its products could not have contributed to the causation of the plaintiff’s injury.

Similarly, regarding Domco, the plaintiff introduced depositions from other cases in which Domco’s product, Azrock, was as an asbestos-containing product at Rockefeller Center locations where Mr. Radovic worked, even though Mr. Radovic did not specifically mention Domco. For the same reasons detailed above, the court determined that Domco simply “argued that plaintiff could not affirmatively prove causation” rather than “affirmatively proving as a matter of law, that there was no causation.”

Finally, regarding Goodyear, the plaintiff introduced deposition testimony from a different matter where Goodyear was specifically implicated as a manufacturer of asbestos-containing products used by floor tilers at Rockefeller Center during the relevant time period. In response, Goodyear noted that Mr. Radovic did not specifically mention Goodyear, and that not all Goodyear products contained asbestos. Here too, the court noted that Goodyear simply pointed to gaps in the plaintiff’s evidence rather than meeting their burden on summary judgment.

  • Read Goodyear’s motion for summary judgment here.
  • Read Domco’s motion for summary judgment here.
  • Read Union Carbide’s motion for summary judgment here.