A recent ruling by a Louisiana state appellate court highlights the degree of success asbestos manufacturers and other defendants can have – even in jurisdictions which are historically hostile to asbestos defense claims. Foley & Mansfield partner Douglas Wah appeared before the panel for Steel Grip, Inc., the appellant in this case.
The case and decision, Landry et al. v. Avondale Industries Inc. et al., No. 2012-CA-0950, 2013 WL 830673 (La. Ct. App., 4th Dist. Mar. 6, 2013), reversed a trial court ruling which granted the plaintiffs summary judgment on their claims against two defendants relating to asbestos exposure. The appellate court found fact questions relating to whether exposure to both defendants’ products occurred and was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s mesothelioma. Specifically, the appellate court held that there was genuine issues of fact as to how much asbestos the plaintiff may have inhaled from the defendants’ respective products.
During his time as a pipe fitter, the plaintiff claimed that asbestos from the defendants gloves was a significant contributing factor to the plaintiff’s mesothelioma and death. He later admitted he did not know if the gloves were asbestos and he did not know the manufacturer of the product. Nevertheless, the trial court granted the plaintiff’s summary judgment motion; the appellate panel reversed this ruling. It found that there was an issue of fact as to whether or not the asbestos dust to which plaintiff was exposed came from the appellant’s gloves or from other manufacturer’s asbestos products. The court ordered a trial on issue of whether the plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from the Steel Grip products at all, since the evidence presented on this issue was inconclusive and only raised a “possibility” that defendants were present at the shipyard and liable.
The case is scheduled to proceed to trial November 2013.