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In Re: Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. Vi v. Pneumo Abex Corp.

August 9, 2011

IN RE: ASBESTOS PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION (NO. VI)
WILLIAM AND CAROL CURTIS
v.
PNEUMO ABEX CORP., ET AL



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Eduardo C. Robreno, J.

Consolidated Under

Case originally filed in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania

MEMORANDUM

Before the Court are Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants Pneumo Abex LLC, Brake Systems, Inc., Kelsey-Hays Co., and Honeywell International (together "Moving Defendants") in the above-captioned case.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs, William Curtis and Carol Curtis, commenced the instant action in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on May 12, 2010, alleging injuries due to asbestos exposure. On September 3, 2009, Plaintiff William Curtis ("Mr. Curtis") was diagnosed with lung cancer. The case was subsequently removed to the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and became a part of MDL 875 In Re: Asbestos on June 12, 2010. Mr. Curtis was deposed on June 17, 2010.

Mr. Curtis was employed as a parts clerk at Goldring Motors in Brooklyn, New York from 1960-1967. Goldring Motors was an official dealership for Dodge*fn1 and Volvo automobiles, and had a mechanics division. (Pl.'s Resp., at 2.)

Mr. Curtis was not a mechanic at Goldring Motors, but alleges that he physically handled brakes and was present while brake work occurred. His job was to pick up brake sets and deliver them to one of the nine service bays. (Id. at 3.) After the brake work was completed, mechanics would bring him the used brakes. (Id.) He was responsible for cleaning used brake sets on at least a monthly basis, and sometimes up to three times a week. (Id. at 26.) He performed this work in a 10ft by 10ft windowless room and testified that afterwards, "I used to go upstairs sometimes and have to brush myself from head to foot with dust and brush myself off. There's a door, once you get to the top of the stairs, to go outside, and I'd have to go outside and just brush myself off. And you'd go home dirty, too, sometimes." (Id. at 19, quoting Curtis De Bene Esse Dep. 69:17-22.)

Moving Defendants were suppliers of brake linings and/or brake assemblies to Chrysler during the relevant time period. Moving Defendants' products were incorporated into "Mopar" brakes, Mopar being shorthand for Chrysler-manufactured parts that are used in the construction of new automobiles. It was not possible, when handling a MoPar brake, to know which company had manufactured the asbestos-containing component therein. During the relevant time period in the instant case, 1959-1967,*fn2 Chrysler had approximately thirteen (13) suppliers of asbestos-containing brake components that were used to make Mopar brakes. (Def. Pneumo Abex's Reply, doc. no. 36, at 7.)

Therefore, because of the nature of Mopar brakes, Mr. Curtis was not able to identify the manufacturers responsible for supplying the asbestos-containing parts that he cleaned from Mopar brake assemblies.*fn3 Plaintiffs aver that the evidence of Moving Defendants' sale of asbestos-containing products to Chrysler during the relevant time period, combined with Mr. Curtis's extensive exposure testimony, gives rise to a genuine issue of material fact.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

When evaluating a motion for summary judgment, Federal

Rule of Civil Procedure 56 provides that the Court must grant judgment in favor of the moving party when "the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact . . . ." Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)(2). A fact is "material" if its existence or non-existence would affect the outcome of the suit under governing law. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). An issue of fact is "genuine" when there is sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find in favor of the non-moving party regarding the existence of that fact. Id. ...


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