BLOOMINGTON, Ill. (Legal Newsline) – An Illinois district judge has granted summary judgment to a gasket manufacturer in a take-home asbestos exposure case in which the defendant claims it never even manufactured asbestos-containing gaskets.
Judge Rebecca S. Foley granted summary judgment for defendant Chicago Gasket Company on Oct. 6 in Illinois' McLean County Circuit Court just before a trial was set to begin.
Foley held that summary judgment was appropriate because the plaintiff failed to meet the “frequency, regularity and proximity test” required by Illinois law.
Decedent Doris Rice allegedly developed mesothelioma as a result of secondary take-home asbestos exposure from her husband’s work clothing. She later died from her injury.
The decedent’s husband, Richard Rice, worked as a plumber and pipefitter for Ralston Purina from 1952 to 1967 and Illinois State University from 1967 to 1988.
Rice testified that he did not recognize the name Chicago Gasket Company, but he said “if they were there, I used them.”
The parties also took depositions of four of Rice’s co-workers.
Only one of the co-workers claimed to be familiar with the defendant when he admitted that he could not verify if he ever saw Rice working with or removing a sheet gasket supplied by the defendant while working at the university.
In fact, Chicago Gasket denied it ever sold asbestos-containing sheet gasket material.
Therefore, it moved for summary judgment, claiming the witness testimony did not provide any evidence that Rice worked in close proximity to a Chicago Gasket asbestos-containing product on a frequent and regular basis. It also argued that there was not enough exposure evidence concerning the decedent.
Foley agreed and concluded that the plaintiff could not make a prima facie case based on mere speculation and granted summary judgment for Chicago Gasket, which was the sole remaining defendant at trial.
Matushek, Nilles & Sinars LLC argued on behalf of the defendant and Wylder Corwin Kelly LLP represented the plaintiff.
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