United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ORDER ON DEFENDANT COSMO SPECIALTY FIBERS, INC.'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. BRYAN United States District Judge
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Cosmo Specialty
Fibers, Inc.'s Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 78. The
Court has considered Cosmo's motion, Defendants
Trans-Systems, Inc.'s and James J. Williams Bulk Service
Transport's (TSI-JJW's) Response (Dkt. 90),
Plaintiff's Response (Dkt. 84), Cosmo's Reply (Dkt.
95), and the remainder of the file herein.
motion seeks summary judgment of dismissal. According to
Cosmo: (1) dismissal of the negligence claim is
warranted, because there is no evidence that Cosmo caused
Plaintiffs' harm; (2) dismissal of the negligent
hiring, training, and supervising allegations is
warranted, because the requisite negligence claim fails and
there is no evidence that any Cosmo employees acted outside
of the scope of their employment; and (3) dismissal of the
strict liability allegations is warranted because
Cosmo at most stored (but did not transport) aqua ammonia,
which is not an abnormally dangerous activity.
case arises out of alleged injuries to Plaintiff Steven Crow
from an exposure incident, where he was allegedly exposed to
hazardous fumes or gas released on September 27, 2012. On
that date, Mr. Crow and three fellow Weyerhauser coworkers
worked at the Weyerhauser Truck Shop, which is adjacent to a
pulp mill operated by Cosmo. Dkt. 57 at 7. According to
Cosmo's records, a tanker truck operated by TSI-JJW
entered the pulp mill at 12:10pm and departed at 1:46pm. Dkt.
59 at 9. The delivery log sheet of the tanker truck driver,
Devin Godwin, indicates that aqua ammonia was delivered to
Cosmo's pulp mill storage tanks (“the delivery
site”) between 12:20pm and 1:20pm. Dkt. 41-1 at 21.
Godwin testified about the aqua ammonia delivery on the date
of the exposure incident. Mr. Godwin offloaded aqua ammonia
at the delivery site and, consistent with Cosmo's written
procedures, began to vent excess vapor pressure through
Cosmo's scrubber. When the pressure lowered to 5 psi, he
was unable to vent the remaining pressure through the
scrubber. Dkt. 79 at 21, 22, 25, 26, 29 (Godwin Dep. at 22,
23, 26, 27, 30). An unidentified Cosmo employee informed Mr.
Godwin that Cosmo's scrubber was broken down.
Id. at 22 (Godwin Dep. at 23). Thereafter,
“[t]hey told [Mr. Godwin] that [he] could release the
last five pounds out where [he] was parked at into the
atmosphere.” Id. at 28 (Godwin Dep. at 29).
Mr. Godwin could not later identify the person who gave him
permission to vent, other than to refer to the person as a
“Cosmo environmentalist.” Id. at 26, 28
(Godwin Dep. at 27, 29).
receiving permission from Cosmo to vent, “that's
when [Mr. Godwin] got in the truck and drove through . . .
Cosmo's facility with [his] vent open to that secluded
spot.” Dkt. 65 at 21 (Godwin Dep. at 61). Mr. Godwin
testified that he drove from the delivery site to a
“secluded location” for the first time on the
date of the exposure incident. Dkt. 79 at 39 (Godwin Dep. at
66). He subsequently vented at the secluded location on
multiple occasions. Id. at 46 (Godwin Dep. at 76).
Mr. Godwin testified that did not “contact the
environmental operator at Cosmo or anyone else at Cosmo to
see if that was okay to do.” Id. at 39 (Godwin
Dep. at 66). He further explained:
Q: No one at Cosmo told you it was allowed to drive with your
vents open to some remote area on their property to further
Q: You made that decision on your own?
Q: You didn't call Jerrod [a TSI-JJW employee] for advice
A: I didn't.
Id. at 33 (Godwin Dep. at 41). Mr. Godwin believed
that there was “very little [aqua ammonia] that was
coming out when I drove . . . from the offloading spot to
that secluded ...