Whelan v. Armstrong International Inc., 060320 NJSC, A-40-18

Docket Nº:A-40-18, A-41-18, A-42-18, A-43-18, A-44-18, A-45-18, A-46-18
Opinion Judge:ALBIN, JUSTICE
Party Name:Arthur G. Whelan, Plaintiff-Respondent, v. Armstrong International Inc.; Burnham LLC; Carrier Corp., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems; Cleaver- Brooks Inc.; Crown Boiler Co., f/k/a Crown Industries Inc.; Ford Motor Co.; Johnson Controls Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Evcon Industries Inc....
Attorney:Sean Marotta argued the cause for appellant Ford Motor Co. (Hogan Lovells U.S. and K&L Gates, attorneys; Sean Marotta, Joseph F. Lagrotteria, and Adam G. Husik, on the briefs). Karen J. Stanzione-Conte argued the cause for appellants Cleaver-Brooks Inc. and Crown Boiler Co. (Reilly, McDevitt & He...
Judge Panel:ALBIN, J., writing for the Court. JUSTICE PATTERSON, dissenting, CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, SOLOMON, and TIMPONE join in JUSTICE ALBIN's opinion. JUSTICE PATTERSON filed a dissent, in which JUSTICE FERNANDEZ-VINA joins. CHIEF JUSTICE RABNER and JUSTICES LaVECCHIA, SOLOMON, and T...
Case Date:June 03, 2020
Court:Supreme Court of New Jersey
 
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Arthur G. Whelan, Plaintiff-Respondent,

v.

Armstrong International Inc.; Burnham LLC; Carrier Corp., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Bryant Heating & Cooling Systems; Cleaver- Brooks Inc.; Crown Boiler Co., f/k/a Crown Industries Inc.; Ford Motor Co.; Johnson Controls Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Evcon Industries Inc. and Coleman Heating and Air Conditioning Products, Inc.; NIBCO Inc., Defendants-Appellants,

and

A.O. Smith Corp.; Aaron & Co.; AMG Industries Inc., d/b/a and as successor to Akron Metallic Gasket Co.; Automatic Switch Co.; Automotive Brake Co.; A.W. Chesterton Co.; BASF Corp.; Bergen Industrial Supply Co.; Bethlehem Dynatherm, a/k/a Dynatherm Boiler Manufacturing Inc.; Binsky & Snyder LLC, individually, d/b/a and as successor to Binsky & Snyder Co.; Bonland Industries Inc.; BorgWarner Morse Tec Inc., as successor to Borg-Warner Corp.; Briggs Industries Inc.; Carlisle Companies Inc.; CBS Corp., f/k/a Viacom Inc., successor by merger to CBS Corp., f/k/a Westinghouse Electric Corp.; Central Brass Co. Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Central Brass Manufacturing Co. and Central Brass & Fixture Co.; Central Engineering & Supply Co. Inc.; Chicago Faucet Co.; Chicago-Wilcox Manufacturing Co. Inc.; Colfax Inc., individually and as successor to Warner Electric Brake & Clutch Co.; Crane Co.; Crosstown Plumbing Supply Inc.; Dana Companies LLC; DAP Inc.; Ductmate Industries Inc.; Dunham-Bush Inc.; Dunphey & Associates Supply Co. Inc.; Duro Dyne Corp.; ECR International Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Utica Boilers Inc., Utica Radiator Corp., Dunkirk Boilers, Pennco Inc., and Olsen Technology Inc.; Essex Plumbing Supply Inc.; Fisher Scientific International Inc.; Fortune Brands Home & Security Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Moen Inc.; Foster Wheeler LLC; General Electric Co.; Georgia-Pacific LLC; The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.; Goulds Pumps Inc.; Graco Inc.; Grundfos Pumps Corp.; H.B. Smith Co. Inc.; Hilco Inc., individually and as successor to Universal Supply Group Inc. and Amber Supply Co.; Honeywell International Inc., f/k/a Honeywell Inc., Allied Signal Inc. and Bendix Corp.; Interline Brands Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to J.A. Sexauer Inc.; International Business Machines Corp.; ITT Corp.; Kaiser Gypsum Co. Inc.; Kantor Supply Inc.; Kohler Co., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Sterling Faucet Co.; Lennox Industries Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Armstrong Furnace Co.; Magnatrol Valve Corp.; Manhattan Welding Co. Inc.; Maremont Corp.; Meritor Inc., individually and as successor to Rockwell International Corp.; Mestek Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to H.B. Smith Co., Smith Cast Iron Boilers and Mills Boilers; Mueller Industries Inc.; National Automotive Parts Association Inc.; New Jersey Boiler Repair Co.; NCH Corp., as successor to Creed Co. and Daniel P. Creed Co. Inc.; NMBFIL Inc., f/k/a Bondo Corp.; Owens- Illinois Inc.; Peerless Industries Inc.; Pneumo-Abex LLC, individually and as successor to Abex Corp.; Price Pfister Inc.; The Prudential Insurance Co. of America; Rheem Manufacturing Co.; Riley Power Inc., f/k/a Riley-Stoker Corp.; Robertshaw Controls Co., individually and as successor to Fulton Sylphon Co.; Sid Harvey Industries Inc.; Slant/Fin Corp.; Sloan Valve Co.; SOS Products Co. Inc.; Speakman Co.; Superior Boiler Works Inc.; Sur-Seal Corp.; Taco Inc.; Trane U.S. Inc., individually and as successor to American Standard Inc. and American Radiator Co.; Turner Construction Co.; Unilever United States Inc.; Uniroyal Holding Inc.; Verizon New Jersey Inc., individually and as successor to New Jersey Bell Telephone Co.; Victaulic Co.; Wallwork Bros. Inc.; Wal-Rich Corp.; Weil-McLain, a division of the Marley-Wylain Co., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Marley Co. LLC; W.V. Egbert & Co. Inc.; York International Corp.; Zurn Industries LLC, individually, d/b/a and as successor to Erie City Iron Works and Zurn Industries Inc.; AII Acquisition LLC, individually, as successor to, f/k/a, and d/b/a Holland Furnace Co., Athlone Industries Inc., T.F.C. Holding Corp. and Thatcher Furnace Co.; American Premier Underwriters, individually and as successor to Hydrotherm Corp.; August Arace & Sons Inc.; Honeywell Inc.; Rockwell Automation Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Sterling Faucet Co.; Rockwell Collins Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to Sterling Faucet Co.; TriMas Corp., individually, d/b/a and as successor to NI Industries Inc.; Wilmar Industries Inc., individually, d/b/a and as successor to J.A. Sexauer Inc.; BASF Catalysts LLC; TriMas Corp., individually and as successor in interest to Norris Industries and/or NI Industries Inc.; York International Corp., individually and as successor to The Coleman Company Inc., a/k/a Coleman Heating and Air Conditioning Products Inc., Defendants.

Nos. A-40-18, A-41-18, A-42-18, A-43-18, A-44-18, A-45-18, A-46-18

Supreme Court of New Jersey

June 3, 2020

Argued November 19, 2019

On certification to the Superior Court, Appellate Division, whose opinion is reported at 455 N.J.Super. 569 (App. Div. 2018).

Sean Marotta argued the cause for appellant Ford Motor Co. (Hogan Lovells U.S. and K&L Gates, attorneys; Sean Marotta, Joseph F. Lagrotteria, and Adam G. Husik, on the briefs).

Karen J. Stanzione-Conte argued the cause for appellants Cleaver-Brooks Inc. and Crown Boiler Co. (Reilly, McDevitt & Henrich, attorneys; Karen J. Stanzione-Conte and Michelle B. Cappuccio, on the briefs).

Jeffrey S. Kluger argued the cause for appellant Armstrong International Inc. (McGivney, Kluger & Cook, attorneys; Jeffrey S. Kluger and Christopher M. Longo, on the briefs).

Meghan C. Goodwin argued the cause for appellant Burnham LLC (Clyde & Co. US, attorneys; Jeffrey Fegan, of counsel and on the briefs, and Meghan C. Goodwin and Daren S. McNally, on the briefs).

Patrick K.A. Elkins submitted a brief on behalf of appellant Johnson Controls Inc. (Morgan, Lewis & Bockius, attorneys; Patrick K.A. Elkins and Bryan M. Killian of the District of Columbia and Connecticut bars, admitted pro hac vice, on the brief).

Sara K. Saltsman submitted a brief on behalf of appellant Carrier Corp. (Mayfield, Turner, O'Mara & Donnelly, attorneys; Sara K. Saltsman, on the briefs).

Christopher M. Placitella argued the cause for respondent Arthur G. Whelan (Cohen Placitella & Roth and The Lanier Law Firm, attorneys; Rachel A. Placitella and Shannon K. Tully, on the briefs).

Amber R. Long argued the cause for amicus curiae New Jersey Association for Justice (Levy Konigsberg, attorneys; Amber R. Long and Moshe Maimon, on the brief).

Michael E. Waller submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Chamber of Commerce of the United States of America (K&L Gates and U.S. Chamber Litigation Center, attorneys; Michael E. Waller, Tara L. Pehush, Michael B. Schon (U.S. Chamber Litigation Center), of the Arizona and the District of Columbia bars, admitted pro hac vice, Nicholas P. Vari (K&L Gates), of the Pennsylvania bar, admitted pro hac vice, Michael J. Ross (K&L Gates), of the Pennsylvania bar, admitted pro hac vice, and Jake D. Morrison (K&L Gates), of the Pennsylvania bar, admitted pro hac vice, on the brief).

Anita Hotchkiss submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Product Liability Advisory Council, Inc. (Goldberg Segalla, attorneys; Anita Hotchkiss and H. Lockwood Miller III, on the brief).

Phil S. Goldberg submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc. (Shook, Hardy & Bacon, attorneys; Phil S. Goldberg and Mark A. Behrens, of the Virginia and the District of Columbia bars, admitted pro hac vice, on the brief).

Christopher J. Dalton submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Washington Legal Foundation (Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, attorneys; Christopher J. Dalton and Linda P. Reig, on the brief).

Thomas Comerford submitted a brief on behalf of amicus curiae Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (Weitz & Luxenberg, attorneys; Thomas Comerford, of counsel and on the brief, and Jason P. Weinstein, of the New York bar, admitted pro hac vice, on the brief).

ALBIN, J., writing for the Court.

The Court considers whether defendants who manufacture or distribute products that, by their design, require the replacement of asbestos-containing components with other asbestos-containing components during the ordinary life of the product have a duty to give adequate warnings to the ultimate user.

Plaintiff Arthur Whelan filed suit against the seven present defendants, who allegedly manufactured or distributed products integrated with asbestos-containing components. Whelan claims he was exposed to asbestos dust while working on those products, including their original asbestos-containing components or asbestos-containing replacement components. Defendants contended that Whelan could not establish that his exposure to asbestos was the result of any product they manufactured or distributed. They disclaimed any liability for Whelan's exposure to asbestos-containing replacement parts that they did not manufacture or distribute, even though the parts were incorporated into their products. Whelan countered that it made no difference whether he was exposed to defendants' original asbestos-containing components or a third party's asbestos-containing components -- defendants' duty to warn and liability attached to both.

The trial court granted summary judgment in favor of defendants. The court concluded that defendants could not be held liable for asbestos-containing replacement components later incorporated into their products unless those components were manufactured or distributed by defendants. And the court found that Whelan could not establish that he was exposed to asbestos-containing components...

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