•  Summary Judgment Granted in Products Liability Mesothelioma Action

  •  Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of WFBM Client


Summary Judgment Granted in Products Liability Mesothelioma Action

Senior Trial Counsel Helen Luetto in the Orange office and Partner Florence McClain in the San Francisco office obtained summary judgment for the firm's client in a products liability action venued in Los Angeles Superior Court.

Plaintiffs claimed  decedent was exposed to asbestos as a construction worker and project superintendent from 1962 to 2009 in California, Minnesota, and Florida. Plaintiffs claimed that during the 1980s, decedent worked with asbestos cement pipe supplied by the firm's client, causing him to be exposed to asbestos and subsequently develop mesothelioma. WFBM propounded written discovery on behalf of its client and defended its client's interests during plaintiff's deposition. Based on information elicited, WFBM filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that plaintiffs did not meet their burden of production because they failed to identify any evidence supporting their claim that decedent was ever exposed to asbestos from a product supplied by the firm's client.

The court granted WFBM's summary judgment motion and dismissed plaintiff's complaint against the firm's client.   The court found that plaintiffs had not and could not prove that any products or materials used at any job site were supplied by the firm's client based on evidence from written discovery and the plaintiffs' deposition testimony, and thus, plaintiff could not prove that decedent's mesothelioma was caused by the firm's client.

Court of Appeals Affirms Summary Judgment in Favor of WFBM Client

On December 20, 2012, WFBM partners Robert Channel and Margaret Mahaffey were successful in obtaining from the Court of Appeal of the State of California for the First Appellate District an opinion affirming a San Francisco Superior Court's Order granting summary judgment on behalf of a WFBM contractor client on the essential issue of causation in an asbestos mesothelioma personal injury case.

Plaintiff worked at an industrial laundry facility and alleged he was exposed to asbestos from handling soiled laundry from WFBM's client including uniforms, work clothes, shop towels and linens. WFBM filed for summary judgment contending  plaintiff's evidence was insufficient to prove exposure.  Plaintiff opposed WFBM's motion with declarations from three expert witnesses in an effort to create a link between plaintiff and alleged asbestos-laden laundry attributable to WFBM's client under a "re-entrainment" theory.

WFBM challenged plaintiff's evidence that its client was a customer of the industrial laundry facility, that it was too speculative to presume that plaintiff was exposed to asbestos fibers linked to any specific laundry customer while handling laundry from numerous customers on any given day, and that plaintiff failed to link the laundry that he attributed to WFBM's client to any specific jobsite or asbestos-containing materials.  The Superior Court agreed and on February 12, 2011, granted WFBM's summary judgment motion.  Plaintiff appealed that judgment to the First District Court of Appeal.

Oral argument before the Appellate Court took place on December 13, 2012.  Seven days later, the First District issued an opinion affirming the granting of summary judgment in favor of WFBM's client.