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Hedrick v. A.O. Smith Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

May 22, 2018

ROBERT HEDRICK, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
A.O. SMITH CORP., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM

          Schiller, J.

         Robert Hedrick alleges that he developed lung cancer as a result of exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy from 1953 to 1957. He claims that he was regularly exposed to asbestos in his work in the boiler rooms and engine rooms of four different naval vessels. Hedrick sued a number of manufacturers whose products he claims contained asbestos. Five of the remaining Defendants (the “Moving Defendants”) have filed motions for summary judgment. For the reasons discussed below, the Court grants the motions of Ingersoll-Rand Co., Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy Corp., and Warren Pumps, LLC, and denies the motions of Air & Liquid Systems Corp. and Crane Co.

         I.BACKGROUND

         A. Hedrick's Alleged Asbestos Exposure History

         Hedrick enlisted in the Navy in 1953. (Pls.' Resp. to Ingersoll-Rand Corp.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [Pls.' Resp. to Ingersoll], ECF No. 207, at 2.) Over the next four years, he worked on four different naval vessels: the USS Cabot, USS Roan, USS Boston, and USS New Jersey. (Id.) He began his service as a seaman apprentice, and then became a fireman apprentice, a fireman, and finally a machinist's mate. (Id.) In these capacities, Hedrick did varying amounts of work in the boiler rooms and engine rooms of the ships. (Id. at 3-4.)

         Hedrick claims that his work regularly exposed him to asbestos. His duties at times included removing and replacing insulation on piping; when he did this, he disturbed asbestos dust in the insulation and breathed it in. (Id. at 3.) Hedrick also removed and replaced packing from pumps once or twice a month. (Id. at 9.) He describes this as a “two-hour process” that involved several minutes of cutting asbestos-containing packaging, which was often dry and would come apart as he removed it. (Id.) In addition, Hedrick often replaced asbestos-containing gaskets on valves and pumps. This involved using a scraper to scrape off the old gaskets, which were dry and came off in pieces; the scraping process took 20 to 40 minutes. (Pls.' Resp. in Opp'n to SLM's Mot. for Summ. J. [Pls.' Resp. to SLM], ECF No. 208, at 7-8.)

         Hedrick claims that his asbestos exposure, both by itself and in combination with his cigarette smoking, caused him to develop lung cancer. (See Pls.' Resp. to Ingersoll at 11-12.) Hedrick's medical expert opines that his smoking was a minor cause, if any, because he quit smoking 47 years before his cancer was first detected. (Id.)

         B. Hedrick's Alleged Exposure to Defendants' Products 1.Ingersoll-Rand Hedrick claims that Ingersoll-Rand supplied pumps incorporating asbestos-containing parts to each of the ships he worked on. (Pls.' Resp. to Ingersoll at 6.) For instance, he claims it supplied fluid circulating pumps to the Boston and main feed pumps to the New Jersey. (Id.) Hedrick claims that he worked on both of these pumps. (Id. at 14.)

         2. Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy

         Hedrick sued Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy (“SLM”) as the successor-in-interest to Davidson Co. Hedrick claims that Davidson supplied brine pumps and seawater circulating pumps to the Boston. (Pls.' Resp. to SLM at 9.) He claims that he worked on both of these pumps. (Id.)

         3. Warren Pumps

         Hedrick alleges little in the way of specific exposure to materials supplied by Warren Pumps. He claims that Warren Pumps supplied a variety of pumps to the Boston, as well as pumps to the Cabot and Roan. (Pls.' Resp. in Opp'n to Warren Pumps, LLC's Mot. for Summ. J., ECF No. 209, at 8.) Hedrick claims that he worked in the engine rooms of each of these ships. (Id. at 16.)

         4. Air & Liquid Systems

         Hedrick sued Air & Liquid as the successor-in-interest to Buffalo Pumps, Inc. Hedrick testified in a previous lawsuit that he thought he remembered seeing Buffalo pumps on the Roan. (Pls.' Resp. in Opp'n to Air & Liquid Sys. Corp.'s Mot. for Summ. J. [Pls.' Resp. to ALSC], ECF No. 205, Ex. F.) He also claims that Buffalo Pumps supplied circulating pumps to the Roan and the Boston, and both main feed booster pumps and condensate pumps to the Boston ...


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