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VITA FOOD PRODS. v. E. J. BARTELLS CO.

November 5, 1980

VITA FOOD PRODUCTS, INC., a corporation, Plaintiff,
v.
The E. J. BARTELLS CO., a corporation; Fiberchem, Inc., a corporation; and Witco Chemical Co., a corporation, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: BEEKS

ORDER DENYING DEFENDANTS' MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

This action arose out of a fire which occurred on December 11, 1976 aboard the seafood processor M/V VITA at Dutch Harbor, Alaska. Known to have started in the engine room, the fire is thought to have been caused by the failure of a hydraulic pump line which sprayed hydraulic fluid on an electric motor igniting the fluid. The fire was fed by 1500 gallons of hydraulic fluid stored in a reservoir above the engine room.

 The heat from the fire was transmitted through a steel bulkhead into an adjacent hold which was serving as a freezer compartment. The bulkheads in the freezer were insulated with polyurethane foam insulation. The heat from the fire caused this insulation to ignite and the damage done to the VITA and its frozen cargo thereby is the subject of this lawsuit.

 The defendants, E. J. Bartells Co., Fiberchem, Inc., and Witco Chemical Co., respectively, installed, distributed and manufactured the foam which ignited on VITA. Plaintiff Vita Food Products, Inc., owner of the vessel, alleges that the defendants are liable for damages caused by the ignition of the foam on five bases: (1) failure to warn; (2) negligence; (3) strict liability; (4) misrepresentation; and (5) breach of express and implied warranties, including the warranty of workmanlike service. *fn1" Each of the defendants has moved for summary judgment against plaintiff and this court must now decide if such summary treatment is warranted.

 Plaintiff contends that defendants' motions are not timely because its discovery is far from complete. In such a case as this, where many factual issues exist and where a number of legal bases of liability have been alleged, full discovery is essential and should be complete before the court considers whether summary judgment is proper. Accordingly, defendants' motions are denied without prejudice to ...


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