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 ON DEFENDANT HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL INC.'S
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
J. BRYAN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
MATTER comes before the Court on Defendant Honeywell
International Inc.'s (“Honeywell”) Motion for
Summary Judgment. Dkt. 484. 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.
reasons set forth below, Honeywell's Motion for Summary
Judgment should be granted, in part, and denied, in part.
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.
operative complaint, Plaintiff alleges that Rudie
Klopman-Baerselman (“Decedent”) was exposed to
asbestos-containing products sold or supplied by various
defendants, including Honeywell, causing Decedent injuries
for which they are 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 performed all maintenance
work on his vehicles, including friction work, from
approximately 1966 to 1997. Dkt. 168. Plaintiff alleges that
Decedent was exposed to asbestos attributable to Honeywell
while performing vehicle maintenance. Dkts. 168; and 557.
Plaintiff sues Honeywell as successor-in-interest to Bendix
Corporation, which Plaintiff alleges sold asbestos-containing
brakes from 1939 until 2001. Dkts. 168; and 557.
are two other general theories of asbestos exposure in this
case. First, Plaintiff claims that Decedent was exposed to
asbestos while working as a Dutch Merchant Marine from
approximately 1955 to 1959. Dkt. 168, at 6. Second, Plaintiff
had previously claimed, but removed from the operative
complaint (Dkt. 168), that Decedent was exposed to asbestos
while working at Tektronix. Dkt. 1-1, at 9-10.
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.
MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
filed the instant Motion for Summary Judgment. Dkt. 484.
Honeywell makes two primary arguments: First, that Plaintiff
conclusively admitted that he has no claim against Honeywell
by untimely responding to a request for admissions propounded
by Defendant Genuine Parts Company; second, that
Decedent's mesothelioma was caused by career exposures to
amphibole asbestos as a merchant mariner and as a worker at
Tektronix. Dkt. 484. Honeywell explains that chrysotile
fibers, allegedly the only type of asbestos fibers used in
brake manufacturing, were not found in Decedent's lung
tissue fiber burden test. Dkts. 484; 570. Honeywell further
argues that Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages is not
permitted under Washington law. Dkt. 484, at 17. The instant
Motion for Summary Judgment seeks dismissal of all of
Plaintiff's claims against Honeywell. Dkt. 484.
filed a response in opposition to Honeywell's Motion for
Summary Judgment. Dkt. 557. Plaintiff does not oppose the
motion as to its request to dismiss his claims for conspiracy
and premises liability. Dkt. 557. Plaintiff argues that there
are genuine issues of material fact as to whether Decedent
was substantially exposed to asbestos from Honeywell products
causing Decedent's mesothelioma. Dkt. 557.
offers evidence, including testimony from several witnesses,
that Decedent performed hundreds of brake jobs, from
approximately the 1960s to 1990s, and that he used and
preferred Bendix brakes. Dkt. 557, at 2-5. Plaintiff offers
evidence that Bendix sold asbestos- containing brakes from
1939 until 2001, that all Bendix brakes available in the
1970s contained asbestos, and that all Bendix drum brakes for
cars contained asbestos until 1983. Dkt. 557, at 5- 6.
relies, in part, on three expert opinions in support of his
claim that Decedent's substantial exposure to asbestos
from products attributable to Honeywell caused his
mesothelioma: Susan Raterman (“Ms. Raterman”);
Carl Brodkin (“Dr. Brodkin”); and Ronald Gordon
(“Dr. Gordon”). Dkt. 557, at 10-12,
Raterman, an Industrial Hygienist, opines that:
[W]ork performed by [Decedent] with brakes between the 1960s
and the 1990s, including those manufactured by Bendix, NAPA,
Pneumo Abex, Rayloc, Shucks [sic], Toyota, and other
would have exposed him to significant concentrations of
asbestos dust thousands to hundreds of thousands of times
above background levels which would have contributed to his
cumulative asbestos exposure dose and increased his risk of
Dkt. 558-3, at 110.
Brodkin opines that Decedent's mesothelioma was causally
related to asbestos exposure from his work as an automotive
mechanic. Dkt. 558-2. Dr. Gordon opines that Decedent had
mixed asbestos exposure to chrysotile, crocidolite, amosite,
tremolite/actinolite, and anthophyllite, which were causative
factors in the development of Decedent's mesothelioma.
Dkt. 558-3. Dr. Gordon further opines, with respect to the
absence of chrysotile asbestos in Decedent's lung tissue
fiber burden test, that:
Based on the presence of anthophyllite and
tremolite/actinolite, [Decedent] more than likely had
exposure to chrysotile asbestos. …. It is unlikely
that chrysotile will still be present many years after
exposure based on digestion and removal from the site, lung
or lymph node, but it is a correlated exposure identified by
the presence of the anthophyllite and/or tremolite/actinolite
which was found.
Dkt. 558-3, at 4-5.
filed a reply in support of the instant Motion for Summary
Judgment. Dkt. 570. Honeywell's reply makes four primary
arguments. First, Honeywell argues that Plaintiff's
expert opinions regarding chrysotile asbestos should be
excluded because they lack a reliable scientific methodology.
Second, Honeywell argues that by failing to discuss punitive
damages in its response, Plaintiff concedes that his claim
for punitive damages should be dismissed. Third, Plaintiff
argues that Plaintiff failed to address all of his
“catch-all” claims for liability, and they
should, therefore, be ...