Valve Manufacturer’s Bare Metal Motion for Summary Judgment Denied Supreme Court of New York, New York County, August 4, 2015
It is alleged in this NYCAL case that the decedent, Russell Gonzales, was exposed to asbestos products, including insulation on valves manufactured by Crane Co., in the 1970s at various sites throughout New York City. The decedent died prior to testifying, but his co-worker, Joseph Zgombic testified that he and the decedent were responsible for insulating Crane valves and that they worked near others repacking Crane valves. Crane moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to prove the decedent had exposure to asbestos from any of its products and that it cannot be responsible for asbestos-containing products it neither manufactured or sold. The plaintiff opposed the motion with manuals, catalogs, and specifications showing that Crane “recommended, endorsed and specified” asbestos products in association with its valves used in a high-heat context.
The court, assessing a manufacturer’s duty to warn, denied the motion and stated: “…in the asbestos context, where a defendant makes or sells a safe product, defendant does not have a duty to warn of another’s asbestos-containing product ‘where there is no evidence that a manufacturer had any active role, interest, or influence in the types of products to be used in connection with its own product after it placed its product into the stream of commerce’ (Matter of New York City Asbestos Litig., 121 AD3d at 250, supra). However, there is such a duty ‘where a manufacturer does have a sufficiently significant role, interest, or influence in the type of component used with its product after it enters the stream of commerce, it may be held strictly liable if that component causes injury to an end user of the product’ (id.; see also Berkowitz v A.C. & S, Inc., 288 AD2d 148, [1st Dept 2001].”