PHILADELPHIA (Legal Newsline) – Asbestos multidistrict litigation judge Eduardo Robreno has granted summary judgment for defendant Heidelberg USA, Inc., in an asbestos lawsuit, concluding the plaintiff provided insufficient evidence.
According to the Oct. 15 opinion, the case originated in Pennsylvania state court before it was removed to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in August 2012.
Plaintiff Donna Palmer alleges decedent James Palmer was exposed to asbestos while working as a machinist at various locations in New Jersey and Pennsylvania from 1962 to 1977. He developed mesothelioma as a result of the exposure and died in October 2012.
Heidelberg is a successor to the Margenthaler Linotype company, which manufactured Margenthaler Linotype machines.
The decedent claimed he was exposed to asbestos while using the machines with raw asbestos, as specified by the defendant.
Heidelberg moved for summary judgment, arguing there is insufficient product identification evidence to establish causation from its products.
Specifically, Heidelberg claims summary judgment is proper because, according to Pennsylvania law, it cannot be held liable for products or component parts that it did not manufacture or sell.
Palmer, on the other hand, contends that she has identified sufficient evidence to support causation from the defendant’s products.
Prior to his death, the decedent testified that he was exposed to respirable dust from raw asbestos used to pack the space between the crucible and the pot jacket in the machines at issue.
He explained that cracks on the machines were “common” and asbestos would become airborne when he used compressed air to blow off the Margenthaler products.
The plaintiff also provided testimony from Michael Niesen, Heidelberg’s corporate representative, to support her allegations.
Niesen allegedly testified that six pounds of raw asbestos were used in the machines and Margenthaler mandated that dry asbestos must be used. Additionally, Margenthaler offered raw asbestos for sale in its catalogs.
Robreno concluded that Palmer’s evidence does not establish that the decedent was exposed to respirable dust from Margenthaler machines with the necessary frequency and regularity required by Pennsylvania law.
“Even assuming that defendant could be liable for this raw asbestos exposure without evidence that it manufactured or supplied the asbestos – an issue the court need not reach – at best, Palmer’s evidence establishes that, during a 15-year period, decedent experienced such exposures a handful of times,” Robreno wrote.
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