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Gillen v. Boeing Co.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

August 26, 2014

MARILYN GILLEN, Plaintiff,
v.
THE BOEING COMPANY, ET AL., Defendants. Civil Action No. 2:13-cv-03118-ER.

MEMORANDUM

EDUARDO C. ROBRENO, District Judge.

I. BACKGROUND

This case raises the yet unaddressed issue in Pennsylvania appellate jurisprudence of whether, under Pennsylvania law, an employer and premises owner owes a duty to a spouse of an employee to protect against, or warn her of, the hazards of exposure to asbestos fibers allegedly transmitted at the employer's premises and carried into her home by her husband (hereinafter "take-home exposure").

Plaintiff Marilyn Gillen ("Plaintiff" or "Mrs. Gillen") asserts the she developed mesothelioma as a result of her exposure to asbestos. Mrs. Gillen worked as a secretary at the Boeing Vertol facility in Ridley Park, Pennsylvania from 1966 to 2005 ("Boeing" or "Defendant"). Plaintiff alleges that she was exposed to asbestos while working at Boeing when Defendant conducted various asbestos abatement projects within her proximity. Mrs. Gillen's husband, Hugh Gillen ("Mr. Gillen"), also worked at the Boeing Vertol facility. Mr. Gillen worked as a machinist from 1966 to 1970 and 1973 to 2005. Plaintiff also alleges that she was exposed to asbestos when she laundered her husband's clothes in her home. Plaintiff asserts that Mr. Gillen's clothes contained dust from asbestos products and materials that he worked with at Boeing. It is this claim relating to take-home exposure due to Mrs. Gillen's laundering of Mr. Gillen's work clothing in her home, and not her claim relating to her exposure while working as a secretary at Boeing, that is currently at issue.

Defendant Boeing moves to dismiss Plaintiff's "Household Exposure" (take-home exposure) claim. See Compl. ΒΆΒΆ 29-34. Defendant asserts that Plaintiff cannot maintain a viable take-home exposure cause of action against Boeing under Pennsylvania law. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Boeing's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's take-home exposure claim.[1]

II. LEGAL STANDARD

A party may move to dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). When considering such a motion, the Court must "accept as true all allegations in the complaint and all reasonable inferences that can be drawn therefrom, and view them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party." DeBenedictis v. Merrill Lynch & Co., Inc. , 492 F.3d 209, 215 (3d Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted). To withstand a motion to dismiss, the complaint's "[f]actual allegations must be enough to raise a right to relief above the speculative level." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly , 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). This "requires more than labels and conclusions, and a formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action will not do." Id . Although a plaintiff is entitled to all reasonable inferences from the facts alleged, a plaintiff's legal conclusions are not entitled to deference and the Court is "not bound to accept as true a legal conclusion couched as a factual allegation." Papasan v. Allain , 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).

The pleadings must contain sufficient factual allegations so as to state a facially plausible claim for relief. See, e.g., Gelman v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co. , 583 F.3d 187, 190 (3d Cir. 2009). "A claim has facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged.'" Id . (quoting Ashcroft v. Iqbal , 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009)). In deciding a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the Court is to limit its inquiry to the facts alleged in the complaint and its attachments, matters of public record, and undisputedly authentic documents if the complainant's claims are based upon these documents. See Jordan v. Fox, Rothschild, O'Brien & Frankel , 20 F.3d 1250, 1261 (3d Cir. 1994); Pension Benefit Guar. Corp. v. White Consol. Indus., Inc. , 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993).

III. DISCUSSION

The parties agree that Plaintiff's claim for take-home exposure to asbestos sounds in negligence.[2] In Pennsylvania[3], a negligence cause of action is comprised of the following elements:

(1) a duty or obligation recognized by the law requiring the defendant to conform to a certain standard of conduct for the protection of others against unreasonable risks;
(2) defendant's failure to conform to the standard required;
(3) a causal connection between the conduct and the ...

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