recent_results_logo-new-smallSummary Judgment Granted To WFBM Clients in Five Asbestos Cases

WFBM's San Francisco office was recently successful on three summary judgment motions for firm contractor clients. In the first, plaintiff claimed she was exposed to asbestos from her deceased husband's insulator work clothes which she laundered. Based on a recent court decision which found that no duty was owed to an employee's family member who was exposed to asbestos, the court granted summary judgment for the firm's laborer contractor client. In the second, plaintiff, a former stationary engineer, claimed that employees of the firm's general contractor client cleaned-up asbestos-containing materials in his presence. The court granted summary judgment on the ground that plaintiff could not prove that these materials were asbestos-containing. In the third, plaintiff claimed he was exposed to asbestos from the firm's painting contractor client's handling of fireproofing, joint compound and stucco materials. The court granted summary judgment finding that plaintiff was unable to identify the brand name or manufacturer of any of these materials.

WFBM's San Francisco office was also successful on a summary judgment motion for the firm's client, a heavy equipment manufacturer. Plaintiff claimed he was exposed to asbestos while others worked with gaskets and brakes. The court granted summary judgment on the grounds that there was no evidence that plaintiff was exposed to asbestos-containing products attributable to the firm's client.

WFBM'S Orange office further recently prevailed on motions for summary judgment for two additional firm clients, an asbestos cement pipe supplier and its associated entity. Plaintiff alleged that the firm's clients were liable for a predecessor's asbestos-containing products in spite of the significant factual evidence and prior court rulings to the contrary. The court granted summary judgment finding that plaintiff could not show that he was exposed to a product for which the WFBM clients were responsible.

Partners Jennifer Cormier, Ian Dillon and Florence McClain, and associates Pamela Bobowski, Derek Johnson, Hillary Huth, Dylan Rudolph, and Pamela Stevens were involved in achieving these results in San Francisco, as were senior trial counsel Helen Luetto and associate Sean McGah in Orange.

Summary Judgment Granted in Products Liability Case

Partner Karen Sullivan and associate Sadaf Nejat recently obtained summary judgment for the firm's client in a products liability action venued in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Plaintiff claimed that he suffered traumatic brain injury when he fell off a ladder after he was overcome by fumes emanating from the client's product, which he was using on the job. The entire theory of the case against the firm's client was failure to warn. WFBM argued that, (a) there was no reason to believe that other warnings on the container would have caused plaintiff to act differently, and (b) the client complied with the Federal Hazardous Substances Act, which prempted plaintiff's contentions regarding warnings. The court agreed and granted summary judgment to the firm's client.

Court Sustains Demurrers Without Leave to Amend for Travel Agency and Tour Operator

WFBM partner Mary Watson Fisher recently obtained an order from the Orange County Superior Court sustaining demurrers without leave to amend for two WFBM clients: a travel agent and a tour operator. WFBM's clients were sued by 50 plaintiffs who claimed unspecified personal injuries stemming from plaintiffs' dissatisfaction with a cruise on the Yangtze River in China. Plaintiffs claimed that the original cruise ship was oversold and that the tour operator, travel agency and cruise line (which WFBM did not represent in the case) engaged in a "bait and switch" scheme wherein the 50 plaintiffs were moved to an inferior cruise ship that was not of the "five star" quality plaintiffs claimed they were promised. After allowing plaintiffs three attempts to amend their complaint to state claims against WFBM's clients, the Orange County Superior Court ultimately agreed with WFBM's fourth demurrer and sustained it as to all causes of action without leave to amend. Plaintiffs have not indicated whether they will appeal the ruling.

Defense Verdict In Brain and Lung Injury Case

In January, 2013, after a five week jury trial in Fresno, California, senior trial counsel Helen Luetto and partner Karen Sullivan obtained a defense verdict for contractors sued in a personal injury case involving severe brain and lung injuries from exposure to carbon monoxide and diesel exhaust. Plaintiff claimed neurological damage, lung injury, tremors and speech problems from toxic exposure during excavation of an underground storage tank near the building where she worked. During trial, the defense argued that covering the air intake vent was not something that would reasonably have been expected of the contractors, the amount of carbon monoxide plaintiff was allegedly exposed was not enough to cause her alleged injuries, and that her injuries were either pre-existing or not caused by her alleged exposure. Though plaintiff's counsel demanded $5 million in damages before and during trial, the jury found the defendants were not negligent and returned a verdict for the defense. The Fresno Superior Court denied plaintiff's request for a new trial in late March 2013.