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Pennsylvania Judge Upholds Ex-Navy Worker's Asbestos Lawsuit

Oct 29, 2014

A former U.S. Navy service member can proceed with a lawsuit alleging that he was exposed to asbestos, a Pennsylvania federal judge ruled. U.S. Judge Eduardo Robreno ruled that the ex-Navy worker can pursue claims against Crane Co. and General Electric Co., but released Ingersoll Rand & Co. The lawsuit alleges that the man was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy from 1969 to 1991. He was also exposed to asbestos during the three years he worked in a shipyard after he left the service, the suit alleges. In 2013, he filed a lawsuit against Crane, the manufacturer of packing used in equipment on the Navy ships, in addition to many other defendants.

Because the alleged asbestos exposure occurred while the ex-Navy worker was at sea or at a ship dry-docked at a shipyard, the judge ruled that the claims fell under maritime law. The judge stated that “In assessing whether work was on ‘navigable waters’ (i.e., was sea-based) it is important to note that work performed aboard a ship that is docked at the shipyard is sea-based work, performed on navigable water,” Law360 reports.

According to Law360, Crane and Guardline Inc. had bids for summary judgment, which is when a judgment is entered without a full trial. Judge Robreno denied these bids, ruling that the ex-Navy worker has provided sufficient evidence showing that the companies' products exposed him to asbestos.

Crane had tried to argue that the plaintiff did not provide sufficient evidence for asbestos exposure from the company's packing while repairing equipment. Judge Robreno rejected this argument. The judge also denied Guardline's bid for summary judgment, ruling that there was adequate evidence to show that the company's gloves led to asbestos exposure.

Partial summary judgment was granted to GE on allegations that wire wrappings on equipment led to asbestos exposure. Claims that he was exposed to asbestos through the company's other products, however, were preserved. The judge found evidence that the man was exposed to asbestos through wire wrappings, but there was no evidence to show that GE manufactured it. Partial summary judgment was also granted to CBS Corp. over alleged exposure from wrapping around the company's wiring. The allegations over the wires themselves were preserved. Ingersoll Rand was granted summary judgment on claims that the man who exposed to asbestos through gaskets, packing and insulation used with the company's compressors. Although the judge found that “There is evidence that Ingersoll anticipated (and perhaps even recommended) use of asbestos-containing gaskets, packing, and insulation with these compressors,” there was not enough evidence of exposure from these products.

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