Hailey v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp.

Decision Date14 August 2020
Docket NumberCivil Action No. DKC 18-2590
PartiesAMANDA BROOKE HAILEY, Personal Representative of the Estate of Charles Anthony Shockley, et al. v. AIR AND LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, et al.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Maryland

Presently pending and ready for resolution in this multidefendant asbestos wrongful death case are the motions for summary judgment on all claims and cross-claims filed by the five remaining defendants: Air and Liquid Systems Corp. (f/k/a "Buffalo Pumps") ("Air and Liquid"), (ECF Nos. 82, 83, 84, 85), Crane Co. ("Crane"), (ECF No. 87), CBS Corp. (f/k/a Westinghouse Electric Corporation and B.F. Sturtevant) ("CBS"), (ECF No. 88), General Electric Co. ("GE"), (ECF No. 89), and IMO Industries, Inc. (f/k/a DeLaval Turbine, Inc.) ("IMO"), (ECF Nos. 91, 92). Also pending are separate motions for summary judgment on cross-claims for contribution filed against cross-defendants: The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. ("Goodyear"), (ECF No. 75), Greene, Tweed & Co., Inc. ("Greene Tweed"), (ECF No. 79), and John Crane-Houdaille, Inc. ("Crane-Houdaille"), (ECF No. 86). Finally, Plaintiffs have filed a motion for partial summary judgment as to certain affirmative defenses raised by Air and Liquid, GE, Crane, CBS, and IMO. (ECF No. 90). The issues have been briefed, and the court now rules, no hearing being deemed necessary. Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, all of Defendants' motions for summary judgment and all of Cross-Defendants' motions for summary judgment will be granted, while Plaintiff's motion for partial summary judgment will be denied as moot.

I. Background

Charles Anthony Shockley served in the United States Navy ("USN" or the "Navy") during the late 1960s and early 1970s. From 1968 until 1972, Mr. Shockley worked as a machinist mate aboard the USS Henderson. The Henderson was a "Gearing-Class" destroyer, built in the 1940s and commissioned in 1945. Like all Navy ships built before the 1970's, the Henderson contained much asbestos. Defendants are companies, or their successors, that supplied equipment initially installed on the ship. Plaintiffs' claims stem from the assertion that asbestos used in conjunction with each Defendant's product created dust that was inhaled as people such as Mr. Shockley worked on, maintained, and repaired the equipment.

Over the decades after commissioning, the Henderson underwent a series of overhauls which resulted in the replacement of much of the original machinery aboard the ship. When, in 1968, Mr. Shockley began serving aboard the Henderson, it is unclear howmuch of the original machinery installed aboard the Henderson was still present.

During his time aboard the Henderson, Mr. Shockley worked primarily in the aft engine room. The Henderson also had a forward engine room and two fire rooms. There is, however, no evidence regarding any work Mr. Shockley performed aboard the Henderson other than his work in the aft engine room. Plaintiffs have only one fact witness: Jerry Wanner, who served with Mr. Shockley exclusively in the aft engine room from summer 1970 until Mr. Shockley's discharge from the Navy in 1972.

Plaintiffs also have a series of expert witnesses, the most important of whom was Former Navy Captain Arnold Moore. Captain Moore was able to testify as to the equipment originally installed on the Henderson in 1945. This testimony included identifying specific Defendants' products which were installed aboard the ship at the time of its commissioning. Captain Moore, however, was not able to testify as to where aboard the Henderson a given product had been installed. Captain Moore also noted that the Henderson underwent a "Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization" in the early 1960s, along with overhauls every few years. During Mr. Shockley's time aboard the Henderson, the ship's home port was the Long Beach Navy Yard, and the Henderson went on one seven-to-eight month tour to Vietnam.

In October 2015, Mr. Shockley was diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma. Mr. Shockley passed away as a result of this asbestos-related mesothelioma in January 2016.

On July 3, 2018, Plaintiff Amanda Brooke Hailey, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Charles Anthony Shockley ("Mr. Shockley"), and Robin L. Shockley, as surviving spouse of Mr. Shockley, filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore County. That complaint named Tabitha Simmons, the surviving child of Mr. Shockley, as a use plaintiff. The complaint also named eleven different defendants, all alleged tortiously to have contributed to Mr. Shockley's death by exposing Mr. Shockley to asbestos during his service aboard the Henderson in the years 1969-1972. Plaintiffs brought claims of strict liability, breach of warranty, negligence, fraud, conspiracy, and market share liability. (ECF No. 1-1).1

On August 21, 2018, this case was removed to this court. (ECF No. 1). On August 29, 2018, the parties agreed to stipulate:

that as to each duly sued and served Defendant, upon its filing its Answer to Complaint, it is automatically deemed to have asserted a cross-claim for contribution against each and every other duly sued, served and answering Defendant, and that all such deemed cross-claims are also deemed to have been answered with complete denials of liability.

(ECF No. 26, at 2).

In the ensuing weeks, Plaintiffs stipulated to the dismissal of three of the original 11 defendants: Warren Pumps, Inc., ("Warren Pumps") (ECF No. 42), Foster Wheeler, LLC, ("Foster Wheeler") (ECF No. 77), and Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. ("Metropolitan"), (ECF No. 101). Metropolitan and Foster Wheeler have since been terminated as defendants, cross-defendants, and cross-plaintiffs and are no longer parties to this case.2 Warren Pumps, however, remains a party to this case as a cross-defendant, although it has withdrawn its own deemed cross-claims against the remaining defendants. (ECF No. 47).

The court also approved joint motions for voluntary dismissal against defendants John Crane, Inc., Goodyear, and Greene Tweed. (ECF No. 62). Certain - though not all - of the remaining cross-plaintiffs subsequently agreed to dismiss their cross-claims against Goodyear. (ECF No. 72). However, none of the remaining cross-plaintiffs - except Warren Pumps, mentioned above - have dismissed their cross-claims against cross-defendants Crane-Houdaille, Greene Tweed, Warren Pumps, Air and Liquid, Westinghouse, IMO, or GE.

In summary:

1. Amanda Brooke Hailey and Robin L. Shockley remain parties as plaintiffs only.
2. Tabitha Simmons remains a party as use plaintiff.
3. Air and Liquid, Westinghouse, GE, IMO, and Crane remain parties as defendants, cross-defendants, and cross-plaintiffs.
4. Crane-Houdaille, Goodyear, and Greene Tweed remain parties as cross-defendants and cross-plaintiffs.
5. Warren Pumps remains a party as a cross-defendant only.
6. Metropolitan and Foster Wheeler have been terminated from the case.

In early March 2020, Plaintiffs indicated that they would not respond to, or oppose, each and every motion for summary judgment. In a letter dated March 9, Plaintiffs stated that they:

will not be opposing all Motions for Summary Judgment filed by Defendants as to Plaintiffs' Breach of Warranty, Civil Conspiracy, Market Share Liability, Fraud, and Aiding and Abetting claims. In addition, Plaintiffs will not be opposing the Motions for Summary Judgment as to Plaintiffs' claims for punitive damages as they relate to Defendants IMO Industries, Inc. and Air & Liquid SystemsCorporation. All other Motions for Summary Judgment will be opposed.

(ECF No. 95).

Plaintiffs ultimately filed a series of responses. (ECF Nos. 106, 107, 108, 109, 111, 112). In their responses, Plaintiffs only respond to certain aspects of Defendants' motions for summary judgment. Plaintiffs have stated that they do not oppose summary judgment as to any of their Breach of Warranty claims and, apparently, to Market Share claims. For Defendants Air and Liquid, IMO, and Crane, Plaintiffs limit their opposition exclusively to the issue of "substantial factor causation," described in detail below. For Defendants CBS and GE, Plaintiffs are "opposing [each of these defendant's] Motion[s] for Summary Judgment to the extent [they] appl[y] to Plaintiff's civil conspiracy, fraud, punitive damages and substantial factor causation claims." (ECF No. 108, at 9; ECF No. 111, at 11). Plaintiffs have filed separate responses specifically opposing GE's and CBS's motions for summary judgment as they apply to the issue of punitive damages. (ECF Nos. 109, 112).

Each of the remaining Defendants - GE, CBS, Air and Liquid, Crane, and IMO - have replied.3 (ECF Nos. 113, 115, 116, 117, 118,119, 120). Finally, while Plaintiffs have sought partial summary judgment regarding certain affirmative defenses against all of the remaining defendants, (ECF No. 90), only three Defendants have responded. CBS, (ECF No. 90), GE, (ECF No. 99), and IMO each filed responses in opposition to Plaintiffs' motion for partial summary judgment. Plaintiffs, in turn, replied. (ECF No. 114).

II. Standard of Review

"Under [Federal Rule of Civil Procedure] 56(c), summary judgment is proper 'if the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.'" Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986) (quoting Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(c)). The party moving for summary judgment bears the burden of demonstrating that no genuine dispute exists as to material facts. Pulliam Inv. Co. v. Cameo Props., 810 F.2d 1282, 1286 (4th Cir. 1987). If the moving party demonstrates that there is no evidence to support the non-moving party's case, the burden shifts to the non-moving party to identify specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial. See Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322-23. To defeat the motion,...

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