Supplier Defendant Granted Summary Judgment for Lack of Evidence of Exposure
As the Asbestos Case Tracker recently reported, on August 5, 2019, the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington recently ruled on several defendants motions for summary judgment. In the complaint, the plaintiff alleges that Rudie Klopman-Baerselman (decedent) was exposed to asbestos-containing products sold or supplied by the supplier defendant, causing the decedent to develop mesothelioma in July 2017 and pass away in November 2017. In the supplier defendant’s motion for summary judgment, it argued that:
- The plaintiff was unable to identify any evidence, admissible or otherwise, that the decedent was exposed to any asbestos-containing products sold or supplied by the supplier defendant
- The plaintiff was unable to identify any evidence, admissible or otherwise, that the decedent suffered a substantial exposure to asbestos associated with any asbestos-containing products sold or supplied by the supplier defendant
- The plaintiff failed to present evidence sufficient to establish genuine issues of material fact with respect to the plaintiff’s claims of negligence, conspiracy, strict liability under Section 402A and 402B of the Restatements of Torts, and premises liability.
In the court’s review of Washington state substantive law regarding motions for summary judgment as well as the evidence presented, the court concluded that the plaintiff failed to offer admissible evidence establishing a reasonable connection between the decedent’s injury and death, products manufactured, sold, or supplied by the supplier defendant, and the supplier defendant itself. The court identified four issues with the plaintiff’s evidence.
The first concern was that the plaintiff provided testimony from witnesses showing that the decedent shopped for automotive parts at the supplier defendant’s stores, but none of the witnesses identified an asbestos-containing product purchased from that store. Second, the plaintiff offered evidence of a defendant’s clutch found in the decedent’s garage with the supplier defendant’s sticker, but failed to show that the clutch contained asbestos. Third, the plaintiff provided evidence of asbestos-containing gaskets manufactured by another defendant found in the decedent’s garage, but the plaintiff did not show that the gaskets were purchased from the supplier defendant’s store. Lastly, the plaintiff offered evidence that the supplier defendant sold a particular brand of brakes that the decedent may have used, but failed to show that the brakes used by the decedent were definitely purchased from the supplier defendant. As a result, the court held that there was insufficient evidence to find causation of the decedent’s injuries and death attributable to the supplier defendant.
Therefore, the supplier defendant’s motion for summary judgment was granted, and the supplier defendant was dismissed from the case.
Read the case decision here.