Parkins

WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) - In a series of recent rulings, a Delaware superior court mostly found in favor of a group of companies all at the center of asbestos litigation.

Judge John A. Parkins Jr., of the New Castle County Superior Court, issued five separate decisions from May 31 to June 1.

Parkins, who authored all five rulings, granted summary judgment to defendants Crane Co., Weil McLain, Jerguson Gage & Valve Co. and Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy Corp., the successor-in-interest to M.T. Davidson Co.

In the first case, plaintiff Thomas Milstead worked in the U.S. Navy as a machinist from 1965 to 1969. He alleged asbestos exposure stemming from M.T. Davidson's pumps.

The defendant, Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy, moved for summary judgment on product nexus grounds and asserted it did not owe a duty to the plaintiff for asbestos-containing replacement parts added to its products after sale.

Parkins, in a nine-page memorandum opinion, granted Superior-Lidgerwood-Mundy's motion for summary judgment.

The judge, in his May 31 ruling, found Milstead did not make a prima facie case for product nexus with original asbestos-containing parts manufactured by the defendant. Also, under Maryland law, a manufacturer does not owe a duty to warn for asbestos-containing replacement parts, he wrote.

In the second case, Milstead alleged asbestos exposure stemming from Crane's valves.

Crane, in response, moved for summary judgment on conspiracy, punitive damage and product nexus grounds. It also asserted it did not owe a duty to Milstead for asbestos-containing replacement parts added to its products after sale.

In a seven-page memorandum opinion, also dated May 31, Parkins granted Crane's summary judgment as to the replacement parts. Again, the judge noted, under Maryland law a manufacturer does not owe a duty to warn for asbestos-containing replacement parts.

However, Parkins denied the company's motion as to the original asbestos-containing parts it manufactured and to its motion on punitive damages.

In the third case, a different plaintiff, Robert McGhee, alleged asbestos exposure from Weil McLain's boilers, among other products.

In response, Weil McLain moved for summary judgment as to product nexus, replacement parts and punitive damages.

Parkins, in a four-page order filed May 31, granted the company's motion after finding that McGhee did not make a prima facie case for product nexus with its original asbestos-containing parts or replacement parts.

In the fourth case before the superior court, Milstead again alleged asbestos exposure -- this time from boiler gage glasses manufactured by Jerguson Gage & Valve Co.

The company, in turn, moved for summary judgment on product nexus grounds, also asserting it did not owe a duty to the plaintiff for asbestos-containing replacement parts added to its products after sale.

Parkins, in a five-page memorandum opinion, granted Jerguson's motion.

In his June 1 ruling, the judge said Milstead failed to make a prima facie case for product nexus with original asbestos-containing parts manufactured by the company, and noted again that under Maryland law a manufacturer does not owe a duty to warn for asbestos-containing replacement parts.

In the final case, plaintiff Kenneth Carlton, like Milstead, served in the U.S. Navy. He worked at the Schenley Distillery as a boiler tender.

Carlton alleged asbestos exposure from Crane's valves, pumps and steam traps.

Crane, in response, moved for summary judgment for product nexus, replacement parts and punitive damages.

Parkins, in a 10-page memorandum opinion, granted the company's motion as to product nexus with the original asbestos-containing parts.

However, in his June 1 ruling, he denied in part and granted in part its motion as to the replacement parts not supplied by the company, and denied its motion as to the punitive damages.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at jessica@legalnewsline.com.

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