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Klopman-Baerselman v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Tacoma

December 5, 2019

ERIC KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, as Personal Representative for the Estate of RUDIE KLOPMAN-BAERSELMAN, deceased, Plaintiff,
v.
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT CROSBY VALVE, LLC'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT

          ROBERT J. BRYAN United States District Judge

         THIS MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Crosby Valve, LLC's (“Crosby Valve”) Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 449. 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 this motion.

         For the reasons set forth below, Crosby Valve's Motion for Summary Judgment should be granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This is an asbestos case. Dkt. 168. The above-entitled action was commenced in Pierce County Superior Court on 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.

         In the operative complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Rudie Klopman-Baerselman (“Decedent”) was exposed to asbestos-containing products sold or supplied by various defendants, including Crosby Valve, causing Decedent injuries for which Crosby Valve 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.

         The 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 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.

         Crosby Valve filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment, arguing that there is no evidence that Decedent was exposed to asbestos from a Crosby valve, and that there is no evidence that asbestos from a Crosby Valve product was the cause of Decedent's mesothelioma. Dkt. 449.

         Plaintiff responded in opposition. Dkt. 502. Plaintiff offers that Decedent “worked in the engineering department aboard ships including the SS Friesland and the SS Waterman (U.S.-built ships).” Dkt. 502, at 2. Plaintiff provides expert testimony that these ships would have contained greater or lesser amounts of amosite asbestos and that Decedent's work aboard these ships would have exposed him to asbestos through the removal and replacement of asbestos-containing thermal insulation. Dkts. 364-2; and 502. Plaintiff further provides evidence that Crosby Valves sold asbestos-containing valves and products for use by the United States Navy. Dkts. 502, at 3- 4. Plaintiff offers expert testimony that Decedent developed mesothelioma substantially caused by mixed asbestos exposure. Dkt. 502, at 6. Plaintiff contends that Decedent was exposed to Crosby Valve asbestos-containing products working aboard U.S.-built ships in the Dutch Merchant Marine, which caused his mesothelioma. Dkt. 502.

         Crosby Valve filed a reply in support of its motion for summary judgment. Dkt. 505.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. SUMMARY JUDGMENT STANDARD

         Summary judgment is proper only if the pleadings, the discovery and disclosure materials on file, and any affidavits show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law when the nonmoving party fails to make a sufficient showing on an essential element of a claim in the case on which the nonmoving party has the burden of proof. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1985). There is no genuine issue of fact for trial where the record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of fact to find for the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986) (nonmoving party must present specific, significant probative evidence, not simply “some metaphysical doubt.”). See also Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(d). Conversely, a genuine dispute over a material fact exists if there is sufficient evidence supporting the claimed factual dispute, requiring a judge or jury to resolve the differing versions of the truth. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 253 (1986); T.W. Elec. Service Inc. v. Pacific Electrical Contractors Association, 809 F.2d 626, 630 (9th Cir. 1987).

         The determination of the existence of a material fact is often a close question. The court must consider the substantive evidentiary burden that the nonmoving party must meet at trial - e.g., a preponderance of the evidence in most civil cases. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 254, T.W. Elect. Service Inc., 809 F.2d at 630. The court must resolve any factual issues of controversy in favor of the nonmoving party only when the facts specifically attested by that party contradict facts specifically attested by the moving party. The nonmoving party may not merely state that it will discredit the moving party's evidence at trial, in the hopes that evidence can be developed at trial to support the claim. T.W. Elect. Service Inc., 809 F.2d at 630 (relying on Anderson, supra). ...


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