Paquin v. Crane Co. et al
ORDER: For the reasons set forth in the attached Order, Crane Co.'s Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 72 ) is hereby DENIED, CBS Corporation's Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 Summary Judgment Motion (Doc. No. 78 ) is hereby DENIED, and Defendant Foster Wheeler LLC's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 75 ) is hereby GRANTED. It is so ordered. Signed by Judge Alvin W. Thompson on 3/31/17. (Rafferty, M.)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
DISTRICT OF CONNECTICUT
CRANE CO. indivudually and/or as :
parent, alter ego and/or
succesor-in-interest to CHAPMAN :
VALVE COMPANY, COCHRANE CORP.,
CHEMPUMP, CRANE SUPPLY, CRANE
PUMPS AND SYSTEMSN, INC. and/or :
CBS CORPORATION f/k/a VIACOM
INC., successor-by-merger with
CBS CORPORATION f/k/a
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION :
as successor-by-merger to
BUFFALO PUMPS, INC.;
FOSTER WHEELER, LLC; and
VIAD CORP. individually and/or
successor-in-interest to THE
GRISCOM RUSSELL COMPANY
Civil No. 3:15-cv-218(AWT)
ORDER RE MOTIONS FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT
For the reasons set forth below, Crane Co.’s Motion for
Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 72) is hereby DENIED, CBS
Corporation’s Fed. R. Civ. P. 56 Summary Judgment Motion (Doc.
No. 78) is hereby DENIED, and Defendant Foster Wheeler LLC’s
Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. No. 75) is hereby GRANTED.
A motion for summary judgment may not be granted unless the
court determines that there is no genuine issue of material fact
to be tried and that the facts as to which there is no such
issue warrant judgment for the moving party as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a).
See Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S.
317, 322-23 (1986); Gallo v. Prudential Residential Servs., 22
F.3d 1219, 1223 (2d Cir. 1994).
When ruling on a motion for
summary judgment, the court may not try issues of fact, but must
leave those issues to the jury.
See, e.g., Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255 (1986); Donahue v. Windsor Locks
Bd. of Fire Comm’rs, 834 F.2d 54, 58 (2d Cir. 1987).
When reviewing the evidence on a motion for summary
judgment, the court must “assess the record in the light most
favorable to the non-movant and . . . draw all reasonable
inferences in its favor.”
Weinstock v. Columbia Univ., 224 F.3d
33, 41 (2d Cir. 2000)(quoting Delaware & Hudson Ry. Co. v.
Consolidated Rail Corp., 902 F.2d 174, 177 (2d Cir. 1990)).
The parties dispute whether this matter is governed by
federal maritime law or Connecticut state law.
contend that federal maritime jurisdiction exists over the
plaintiff’s tort claim because the harm satisfies the “location”
and “nexus” tests the Supreme Court set forth in Grubart, Inc.
v. Great Lakes Dredge & Dock Co., 513 U.S. 527 (1995).
plaintiff argues that the defendants satisfy neither test under
Grubart and that Connecticut’s Product Liability Act applies
The court does not need to resolve whether federal
maritime law or Connecticut state law applies because its
analysis is the same under either standard.
Under the Connecticut Product Liability Act (“CPLA”), a
product liability claim includes claims based on harm caused by
the “manufacture, construction, design, formula, preparation,
assembly, installation, testing, warnings, instructions,
marketing, packaging or labeling of any product.”
Stat. Ann. § 52-572m.
“The CPLA is the exclusive remedy for any
product defect action brought under Connecticut law, and it
includes all actions related to the defect itself and to defects
related to placing a product ‘into the stream of commerce.’”
Bray v. Ingersoll-Rand Co., No. 3:13-CV-1561 SRU, 2015 WL
728515, at *4 (D. Conn. Feb. 19, 2015) (internal citations
In Izzarelli v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., the
Connecticut Supreme Court laid out the elements of a product
liability claim as follows:
“(1) the defendant was engaged in the
business of selling the product; (2) the
product was in a defective condition
unreasonably dangerous to the consumer or
user; (3) the defect caused the injury for
which compensation was sought; (4) the
defect existed at the time of the sale; and
(5) the product was expected to and did
reach the consumer without substantial
change in condition.”
321 Conn. 172, 184–85 (2016).
While a product seller is
exempted from liability to the extent “his product was altered
or modified by a third party,” this exemption does not apply if
“the alteration or modification was the result of conduct that
reasonably should have been anticipated by the product seller.”
Under federal maritime law, a plaintiff in a product
liability case must show, with respect to each defendant,
that “‘(1) he was exposed to the defendant’s product, and (2)
the product was a substantial factor in causing the injury he
suffered,’ and (3) that the defendant manufactured or
distributed the injurious product.”
Bray, 2015 WL 728515, at *4
(citing Lindstrom v. A–C Liab. Trust, 424 F.3d 488, 492 (6th
“In order to demonstrate that the allegedly
defective product was a ‘substantial factor’ in causing the
plaintiff’s injury, a plaintiff must show that it is ‘more
likely than not’ that exposure to the product caused his
Id. (citing Ruiz v. Victory Props., LLC, 315 Conn.
320, 324 (2015)).
Moreover, the alleged harm must be “of the
same general nature as the foreseeable risk” posed by the
Ruiz, 315 Conn. at 324.
“[A] mere showing
that defendant's product was present somewhere at plaintiff’s
place of work is insufficient.
Rather, where a plaintiff relies
on proof of exposure to establish that a product was a
substantial factor in causing injury, the plaintiff must show a
high enough level of exposure that an inference that the
asbestos was a substantial factor in the injury is more than
Perkins v. Air & Liquid Sys. Corp., No. 13 CIV.
8561 CM, 2015 WL 4610671, at *6 (S.D.N.Y. July 30, 2015) (citing
Lindstrom 424 F.3d at 492).
Under the CPLA or general maritime law, the plaintiff “must
demonstrate that the defendants manufactured or distributed a
defective product, that the defect existed at the time [the
plaintiff] utilized the product, that [the plaintiff] was
exposed to that defective product without adequate warning or
protection, and that exposure to the defective product caused
Bray, 2015 WL 728515, at *4.
The plaintiff may
demonstrate these facts through reliance on circumstantial
See O’Brien v. Nat’l Gypsum Co., 944 F.2d 69, 72 (2d
Cir. 1991) (“[I]t is beyond any doubt that circumstantial
evidence alone may suffice to prove adjudicative facts.”).
Crane and CBS
Crane Co. (“Crane”) argues that “Plaintiff has produced no
evidence to establish that Mr. Paquin was exposed to any
allegedly[ ]defective Crane Co. product.”
(Doc. No. 73).
Def. Crane’s Mem. 9
Crane argues further that, in any event, the
plaintiff “cannot establish that his alleged exposure to any
Crane Co. asbestos containing product was a ‘substantial factor’
in causing his injuries.”
Id. at 10.
CBS Corporation, f/k/a Westinghouse Electric Corporation
(“CBS”) also argues that the plaintiff has not produced any
evidence that he was exposed to asbestos from CBS equipment.
See Def. CBS’s Mem. 5 (Doc. No. 78-1) (“Plaintiff has not
proffered any evidence which . . . could raise a genuine issue
as to his exposure to respirable asbestos dust associated with
Westinghouse equipment aboard the U.S. Navy vessels on which he
allegedly worked aboard at EB[.]”).
CBS also argues that the
plaintiff has not produced evidence that could establish that
exposure to its products was a substantial factor in causing the
injuries he suffered.
See id at 4-5.
However, the plaintiff has created genuine issues of
material fact as to both questions with respect to these
For example, the affidavit of Charles Knapp
identifies the equipment manufactured by each of Crane and CBS,
and then explains how it was insulated with asbestos and
asbestos-containing insulation and utilized asbestos-containing
He then avers that Crane’s various types of valves and
CBS’s main turbines and SSTGs were utilized on every submarine
constructed or overhauled at Electric Boat during his period of
The plaintiff, in his affidavit, declares that
equipment of these two defendants was on submarines on which he
worked and that he worked inside virtually every submarine.
avers that the work he performed on each submarine was in
confined spaces and that as part of his duties, he cleaned up
newly applied asbestos insulation that had fallen or broken off
of pipes, cleaned up used and discarded asbestos-containing
material, and moreover, performed “blowdowns,” which caused
asbestos lagging material from the pipes and machinery to come
loose and enter the air.
Crane also argues that it is entitled to summary judgment
on the plaintiff’s claims of exemplary and punitive damages in
Count II of the complaint.
However, as discussed in the
plaintiff’s opposition, the Supreme Court in Yamaha Motor Corp.,
U.S.A. v. Calhoun, 516 U.S. 199 (1996), implicitly overturned
Preston v. Franz, 11 F.3d 357 (2d Cir. 1993), and Whalstrom v.
Kawasaki Heavy Indus., Ltd., 4 F.3d 1084 (2d Cir. 1993).
Gravatt v. City of New York, No 97-civ-0354(RWS), 1998 WL
171491, at *13 (S.D.N.Y. Apr. 10, 1998) (“[T]he Supreme Court
ruled in [Yamaha] that state wrongful death remedies have not
been displaced by federal law in cases involving the wrongful
death of non-seamen in territorial waters.”).
Foster Wheeler LLC (“Poster Wheeler”) contends that it is
entitled to summary judgment because the plaintiff “has not
offered any admissible evidence demonstrating that he was
exposed to any asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold,
supplied or in any way attributable to Foster Wheeler.”
Foster Wheeler’s Mem. 2 (Doc. No. 76).
The evidence offered by the plaintiff with respect to
Foster Wheeler is similar in most respects to the evidence
offered with respect to Crane and CBS, but different in one
While Knapp, in his affidavit, avers that
Crane’s equipment and CBS’s equipment was utilized in every
submarine, he merely avers with respect to Foster Wheeler that
its equipment was “utilized on many, if not most, submarines
constructed or overhauled at Electric Boat during [his] period
Knapp Aff. ¶ 24 (Doc. No. 106-1).
respect to Foster Wheeler and the question of whether the
plaintiff was exposed to its equipment, the answer is, in
substance, “maybe, but maybe not.”
This is not sufficient to
create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether the
plaintiff was exposed to asbestos-containing products
manufactured, sold, supplied or in any way created by Foster
Therefore, Foster Wheeler is entitled to summary judgment
on the claims against it.
It is so ordered.
Signed this 31st day of March, 2017, at Hartford,
Alvin W. Thompson
United States District Judge
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