Bare Metal Defense and Asbestos Litigation
By: CPR @ Feb 20, 2016
One of the continual battlegrounds in current asbestos litigation involves the so-called bare metal defense. That defense involves the assertion that a company that manufactures equipment using asbestos should not be held liable because the company itself was not the manufacturer of the asbestos product Incorporated into the piece of equipment. The legal decisions have gone both ways in recent times. In this case the defense prevailed. The Order is attached.
The case involved flange gasket exposure only under maritime law. The plaintiff argued that the flange gasket need only be used in connection with the valve to fall under but Judge Norton interpreted the Quirin case to require that the asbestos component be incorporated into the valve thereby resulting in inevitable exposure as opposed to mere foreseeable exposure. The basis of granting summary judgment, however, was the fact that the plaintiff did not have sufficient evidence in the record to show that Crane Co. supplied flange gaskets with/attached to/incorporated into its valves to the Navy.
This ruling should be read as limited to flange gasket only exposure and then only under application of maritime law, where the majority of courts follow the Lindstrom and Connor cases.
Had The case been decided under South Carolina law is highly likely that the plaintiff would have prevailed. In a similar case applying South Carolina law, before the same judge, the court recognized evidence that Crane Co. valves were designed to be used with asbestos flange gaskets and Crane specified/recommended the use of said gaskets.
Cohen, Placitella & Roth, PC (215) 567-3500