United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
ROBERT J. KRAUS, and MARGARET M. KRAUS
ALCATEL-LUCENT, et al.
P. HART, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case, plaintiffs Robert and Margaret Kraus are suing various
defendants, including Space Systems/Loral, LLC
(“SSL”) with regard to damages Robert Kraus
suffered from exposure to asbestos. Plaintiffs have filed a
motion to compel discovery from Northrop Grumman Corporation,
which was assigned to the undersigned by the honorable
Timothy J. Savage. For the reasons set forth below,
Plaintiffs’ motion will be granted in part and denied
Applicable Legal Standards
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 37, a party may move for an
order compelling disclosure or discovery after conferring, or
attempting to confer, with good faith with the opposing party
in an attempt to obtain it without court action. F. R. Civ.
Pr. 37(a)(1). Such a motion may be filed where a party fails
to answer an interrogatory submitted under Rule 33, or fails
to either produce documents or permit inspection, as
requested under Rule 34. Id. at (a)(3)(B). Evasive
or incomplete answers and responses are treated as a failure
to answer or respond. Id. at (a)(4).
may also seek sanctions from the court where the opposing
party has not obeyed a discovery order. Fed. R. Civ. Pr.
37(b)(2)(A). These may include directing that the matters
embraced in the order be taken as established for purposes of
the action. Id. at 7(b)(2)(A)(i).II.
No. 3: Please state whether or not you are a corporation. If
so, state: (a) your current corporate name; (b) the state of
incorporation; (c) the date of your incorporation; (d) the
address of your principal place of business; (e) the
addresses of any other places of business; (f) whether or not
you have ever held a certificate of authority to do business
in this state (g) whether or not you have a registered agent
for the purpose of accepting service in this state, and if
so, the name and present address of that agent; (h) state
your corporate purpose; (i) state whether or not you have or
have had subsidiary or predecessor corporation(s) and/or
corporations whose liabilities for asbestos you have assumed
hereafter predecessor [sic] if so:
(1) the name of each subsidiary and/or predecessor; (2) its
date(s) of incorporation, if a corporation, of each such
corporation; (3) state(s) of each such corporation (4) the
corporate purpose of such corporation.
Grumman has responded to all parts of this interrogatory
except subsection (i). In its response to this motion,
however, it states that it will respond to subsection (i)
“as to Hallicrafters and Litton for the three products
alleged to be at use.” I will therefore direct it to
respond to subsection (i).
No. 4: State whether you, a subsidiary, or your predecessors
have at any time directly or indirectly been engaged in the
mining, manufacturing, producing, processing, compounding,
converting, selling, merchandising, supplying, distributing,
and/or otherwise placing in the stream of commerce of raw
asbestos or finished asbestos products or products designed
or intended to contain asbestos. If so, be specific in your
answer and state or furnish as to each such asbestos product:
(a) the trade name, general name and/or other identification
of each such asbestos product, raw or finished: (b) the dates
during which you mined, manufactured, supplied, distributed,
and/or otherwise placed in the stream of commerce each such
asbestos product; (c) the intended use of each such asbestos
product; (d) a complete description of each such asbestos
product including the type of asbestos contained therein and
the percentage of asbestos contained in said product; (e) a
description of the physical appearance including color of
each such asbestos product specifying whether the said
product was/is sold in a solid, loose, powdered or other
form; (f) identify the location of each plant or facility
which produces each of the aforesaid asbestos products; (g)
set forth for which of the products on plaintiff’s
alphabetical list of Cambria Electronic (attached) are you
responsible for and if any contained asbestos.
having asserted a number of objections to this Interrogatory,
Northrop Grumman represents in its response to
Plaintiffs’ motion that it “has already notified
Plaintiffs that it is in the process of investigating”
whether or not it has responsive materials as to the three
products which have been identified by Plaintiffs as having
been on board the USS Cambria, at the time during which Mr.
Kraus served on this ship. These products are AN/SPS-40,
AN/UPX-1, and AN/ULQ-6A.
being the case, I will grant Plaintiff’s request in
this regard and direct Northrop Grumman to respond to this
Interrogatory as it pertains to the three products identified
by Plaintiffs. If Northrop Grumman has not yet identified any
relevant material, it shall so state in a written and
verified interrogatory response.
No. 6: Did you sell raw asbestos or finished asbestos
products to the Navy for the Cambria or to the GE plants on
Chestnut Street in Philadelphia or Valley Forge during or
immediately prior to the periods of employment of plaintiff
in the Navy or at GE or asbestos containing parts for RCA
televisions? If yes, identify (a) dates of sales; (b) amounts
of sales; (c) names of finished asbestos containing products
sold; (d) amount of raw asbestos sold; Invoice records can be
attached to answer this interrogatory.
despite having asserted a number of objections to this
Interrogatory, Northrop Grumman represents in its response to
this motion that it “has already notified Plaintiffs
that it is in the process of investigating” whether or
not is has responsive materials as to the three products
which have been identified by Plaintiffs as having been on
board the USS Cambria, at the time during which Mr. Kraus
served on this ship.
I will grant Plaintiff’s request in this regard and
direct Northrop Grumman to respond to this Interrogatory as
it pertains to the three products identified by Plaintiffs.
If Northrop Grumman has not yet identified any relevant
material, it shall so state in a written and verified
No. 12: Were you ever advised by any member of the medical
profession or other profession such as industrial hygienists
occupational hazard professionals or other persons to utilize
hazard labels on your products and to give clear and explicit
warnings concerning the possibility of cancer, and/or
mesothelioma and/or serious illness and diseases but not
limited to asbestos [sic “asbestosis”?]
to those who might use, handle, or be exposed to your
asbestos products after they have left your control? Identify
this individual or individuals or company, set forth the date
of this advice, and attach copies of this advice if
Grumman objected to this interrogatory on the bases that (a)
it is overly broad; (b) there is an absence of product
identification evidence which would tie Mr. Kraus on a
Northrop Grumman product; (c) Norden Systems, an alleged
predecessor of Northrop Grumman, did make the AN/SPS40B
radar, but it was not installed on Navy vessels until 1971,
four years after Mr. Kraus left the Navy, and one year after
the USS Camden was decommissioned. It added, however, that
“investigation was continuing.”
Amended Supplemental Response to Plaintiffs’ motion to
compel, Northrop Grumman now concedes that Plaintiffs’
claim against it is now focused on AM-1365/URT; AN/ULQ-6A;
and AN/UPX-1. Amended Supplemental Response at 3. Therefore,
the interrogatory does not now appear overbroad. Also, the
objection regarding the AN/SPS40B is no longer relevant.
issue of product identification is somewhat more complex.
Plaintiffs motion to compel discovery relied heavily upon the
anticipated testimony of Joe Landrum and Roger Gossett, which
they argued would demonstrate that Kraus was exposed to
products on the USS Camden which either contained asbestos,
or were repaired with asbestos. These depositions occurred on
August 13 and 20, 2019, during the pendency of this motion.
to Northrop Grumman, neither Landrum nor Gossett
“provided the promised testimony”, so that there
is “zero evidence” that Mr. Kraus ever
encountered the three products identified. Amended
Supplemental Response at 2 and 3.
Landrum confirmed that, although Mr. Kraus had no
“hands-on” work on any radar equipment, Mr.
Kraus’s job took him to every part of the ship, and he
“would be called in when he didn’t understand
what work we were doing, and he needed to be brought up to
speed so he could tell someone else.” Joe Landrum
Deposition Excerpt, attached to Northrop Grumman’s
Amended Supplemental Response as Exhibit H, at 167-8. Landrum
was not able to remember the identification numbers for any
equipment present on the ship.
like Landrum, had no specific memory of seeing Mr. Kraus with