Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Dec. 12, 2014, 12:49pm

WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) – A Delaware federal court has granted summary judgment to a defendant in an asbestos lawsuit, concluding the plaintiff failed to provide sufficient evidence establishing that the decedent worked with the defendant’s products.

Judge Gregory M. Sleet filed the order granting summary judgment in favor of defendant AM General, LLC, on Dec. 9 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware.

Plaintiff Olga Pavlick originally filed the lawsuit in January 2010 in the Superior Court of Delaware on behalf of decedent John Pavlick, Jr., who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2008 from asbestos exposure and died later that year in November.

The case made its way to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania’s asbestos multidistrict litigation. It was later remanded to the Delaware District Court to resolve any outstanding issues.

At the time, defendant AM General was one of two remaining defendants.

The plaintiff alleges the decedent was exposed to asbestos in military trucks manufactured by AM General while he was deployed with the U.S. Army in Germany in the early 1970s. From 1971 to 1974, the decedent served with the Armored Calvary Regiment where he supervised repairs and maintenance of several of the vehicles.

The decedent was allegedly exposed to asbestos while working with and near asbestos-containing automobile parts during his service and while working for a family business using the same auto materials. He was also allegedly exposed to asbestos while performing home improvement and renovation projects.

The defendant is a known manufacturer and supplier of these truck types for the army. It filed for summary judgment in March.

The court found that Pavlick failed to provide evidence that would allow a reasonable jury to conclude that the trucks in question were manufactured by the defendant. Therefore, there is no genuine dispute of material fact, and summary judgment is appropriate, the court ruled.  

Sleet explained that it is undisputed that AM General manufactured the vehicles at issue in this case, but there is no affirmative evidence establishing that the decedent worked with the defendant’s products in Germany.

Two witnesses who served with Pavlik submitted testimonies, but neither could identify whether any of the trucks there were produced by AM General.

“The court does not see how a party could eliminate a genuine dispute of material fact by supplementing the record with additional evidence,” the court concluded.

Therefore, the district court determined that, aside from speculation and possibility, Pavlick failed to provide sufficient evidence that the decedent’s exposure was the result of his work with AM General vehicles while in the army.

“The plaintiff has therefore failed to carry her burden of production such that a reasonable jury could find in her favor at trial. The court grants AM General’s motion for summary judgment,” the order states.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Heather Isringhausen Gvillo at asbestos@legalnewsline.com

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