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Mesothelioma lawsuit against Union Carbide dismissed; Delaware judge says jury could not determine asbestos source

By Brian Brueggemann | May 1, 2019

WILMINGTON, Del. (Legal Newsline) – A Delaware judge has dismissed a couple's claim against Union Carbide, ruling they could not prove the original source of the fibers with which the wife allegedly had contact.

Judge Vivian Medinilla, in granting Union Carbide's motion for summary judgment on April 24, wrote: "The court finds plaintiffs cannot satisfy their 'affirmative duty' by offering evidence that creates a reasonable basis for establishing that the products Mr. (Douglas) Rowland worked with actually contained asbestos from Union Carbide. Fatal to plaintiffs’ claims is that Georgia-Pacific was not supplied by Union Carbide only. Another supplier during the relevant time period included PhilipCarey, which defendant identified as Georgia-Pacific’s chief supplier."

Jane Rowland and her husband, Douglas Rowland, filed suit in 2016 against Union Carbide and various other defendants. The Rowlands alleged that Jane Rowland developed mesothelioma due to contact with Georgia-Pacific joint compound that contained asbestos provided by Union Carbide.

The suit states that Jane Rowland had contact with the asbestos when she laundered her husband's clothing and when she assisted with cleanup of renovation projects that her husband had undertaken.

There is no dispute that Douglas Rowland purchased Georgia-Pacific joint compounds, the ruling states, but Union Carbide argued that the Rowlands have no proof that Union Carbide was the supplier of the asbestos in the Georgia-Pacific products that Douglas Rowland purchased. There were multiple suppliers of asbestos for Georgia-Pacific products, according to Union Carbide's argument.

Union Carbide sold a type of asbestos fiber called Calidria.

"Union Carbide was one of several suppliers of asbestos to Georgia-Pacific, and it cannot reasonably be inferred that the asbestos to which Ms. Rowland was allegedly exposed was supplied by Union Carbide," Medinilla wrote. 

"A reasonable jury could not determine, beyond pure speculation, that the ready-mix product used by Mr. Rowland contained Union Carbide Calidria asbestos and that Union Carbide was responsible for Ms. Rowland’s injuries."

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