Calif. Team Prevails in Asbestos Appeal

Orange County Partner Helen M. Luetto, San Diego Appellate Partners Ernest Slome and Jeff Miller, and San Diego Appellate Associates Brittany Bartold and Arezoo Jamshidi recently prevailed in an appeal from the judgment entered following a trial court’s grant of summary judgment in favor of the defendant in an asbestos suit.

The plaintiffs alleged that the decedent, who was the wife of one of the plaintiffs and the mother of the other plaintiff, was exposed to asbestos from asbestos-containing products sold by numerous defendants, including our client. However, the complaint did not disclose the specific circumstances surrounding the claimed exposures nor the particular products at issue as to any defendants. The plaintiffs brought claims for negligence, breach of implied warranties, strict liability, fraud and concealment, conspiracy to defraud, loss of consortium, and survivorship.

The trial court granted summary judgment judgment in favor of our client on the grounds that the plaintiffs had not and could not reasonably produce evidence showing exposure to an asbestos-containing product manufactured by the defendant.

The Court of Appeal affirmed. The court stated that a defendant may meet his initial burden by simply pointing out that the plaintiff does not possess, and cannot reasonably obtain, evidence that would allow a trier of fact to find causation more likely than not. In his prior depositions, the decedent could not identify the brand name or trade name of any of our client’s products he allegedly used on the roof nor recall what type of product it was or whether he purchased the same product each time. Nothing was alleged about any asbestos-containing product manufactured by our client.

Furthermore, the court concluded there was insufficient evidence to raise a triable issue of material fact as to exposure. There was no factual basis for the plaintiff’s general assertion of causation. The evidence presented as to causation amounted to nothing more than pure speculation.

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