United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma
ERIC KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, as Personal Representative for the Estate of RUDIE KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, deceased, Plaintiff,
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS
CORPORATION'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Air & Liquid
Systems Corporation's (“Air & Liquid”)
Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 346. The Court is familiar
with the record herein and has reviewed the motion and
documents filed in support of and in opposition thereto, and
it is fully advised. Oral argument is unnecessary to decide
reasons set forth below, Air & Liquid's Motion for
Summary Judgment should be granted.
an asbestos case. Dkt. 168. The above-entitled action was
commenced in Pierce County Superior Court of October 27,
2017. Dkt. 1-1, at 6. Notice of removal from the state court
was filed with this Court on July 3, 2018. Dkt. 1-1.
operative complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Rudie
Klopman-Baerselman (“Decedent”) was exposed to
asbestos-containing products sold or supplied by various
defendants, including Air & Liquid, causing Decedent
injuries for which Air & Liquid is liable. Dkt. 168.
Decedent was diagnosed with mesothelioma on approximately
July 11, 2017, and died on November 25, 2017, before being
deposed. Dkts. 168, at 4; and 374, at 7.
complaint provides that “Decedent  was an employee of
Royal Dutch Lloyd, Rotterdam Lloyd and worked as a merchant
mariner assigned to several vessels. While performing his
duties as a boiler oilman/stoker from approximately 1955
through 1959, Decedent  was exposed to asbestos,
asbestos-containing materials and products while aboard the
vessels.” Dkt. 168, at 6. Plaintiff provides that
“[Decedent] worked as an oilman aboard three
steam-driven ships: (1) the SS Friesland, formerly
the HMS Ranee and USS Niantic (CVE-46); (2)
the SS Waterman, formerly the U.S.-built SS LaGrande
Victory; and, (3) the SS Kertosono.” Dkt. 374,
at 2. Apparently, an inspection report of the HMS
Ranee from 1943 recommends providing spare parts for a
pump supplied by Buffalo Pump Corp. (“Buffalo”),
the predecessor of Air & Liquid. Dkts. 374, at 2; and
375-2, at 7.
complaint continues, “Decedent  performed all
maintenance work on his vehicles specifically friction work.
Decedent  performed maintenance to his vehicles, during the
approximate years 1966 through 1997. Decedent  was exposed
to asbestos, asbestos materials and products while performing
vehicle maintenance.” Dkt. 168, at 6.
claims liability based upon the theories of product liability
(RCW 7.72 et seq.); negligence; conspiracy; strict product
liability under Section 402A and 402B of the Restatement of
Torts; premises liability; and any other applicable theory of
liability.” Dkt. 168, at 6.
& Liquid filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment,
arguing that Plaintiff is unable to show that Decedent was
exposed to asbestos-containing products attributable to Air
& Liquid, nor that any exposure was a substantial
contributing factor in causing Decedent's injuries and
death. Dkt. 346. Air & Liquid further argues that
maritime law should apply, and that Plaintiff's claims
fail under either maritime law or Washington state law. Dkt.
387, at 1-2, n.1.
responded in opposition to Air & Liquid's instant
Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 374. Plaintiff does not
discuss maritime law; Plaintiff couches its arguments in
Washington product liability. Dkt. 374, at 5-9. Plaintiff
alleges that, while working aboard ships in the Dutch
merchant marine, Decedent “was around various
machinery, including pumps, that were covered with amosite
asbestos insulation.” Dkt. 374, at 7.
offers the opinion of James Delaney (“Mr.
Delaney”), an apparent maritime and naval expert
retained by Toyota Motor Sales USA Inc. and Toyota Motor
Corporation in this case. Dkts. 374, at 7; and 375-1. Mr.
Delaney opined that “[b]oth the USS Niantic and the La
Grande Victory were built during the years when the Navy and
the Maritime Administration required asbestos containing
thermal insulation, including amosite, to be installed on
steam and chilled water systems … throughout …
the ships.” Dkt. 375-1, at 11. Mr. Delaney further
opined that “[Decedent] would have been in direct
contact, or the close proximity to large quantities of
asbestos containing thermal insulation on a regular
basis.” Dkt. 375-1, at 12.
also offers the opinion of Ronald Gordon (“Dr.
Gordon”), who apparently conducted an electron
microscope analysis of Decedent's lung tissue. Dkts. 374,
at 3-4; and 375- 3. Dr. Gordon opines that “[Decedent]
had a mixed asbestos exposure to chrysotile, crocidolite,
amosite, tremolite/actinolite and anthophyllite ….
These asbestos fibers were the causative factors in the
development of [Decedent]'s malignant
mesothelioma.” Dkt. 375-3, at 7.
contends that “ship records showing that Buffalo
supplied the distilling pump aboard the SS
Friesland, combined with Delaney's and Gordon's
expert opinions, is more than sufficient evidence under
Washington law to raise genuine issues as to whether work on
or around insulated Buffalo Pumps contributed to
[Decedent]'s mesothelioma.” Dkt. 374, at 8.
& Liquid replied in support of its Motion for Summary
Judgment. Dkt. 387. Air & Liquid argues, in part, that
the HMS Ranee 1943 inspection report and other
documents should be disregarded as being inadmissible,
unauthenticated, and hearsay. Dkt. 387, at 6.