Laurent v. New Orleans City et al
ORDER & REASONS: granting 49 Defendants BMW of North America, LLC, Daimler North America Corporation, and Volkswagen Group of America's Motion for Summary Judgment; denying as moot 51 Motion for Leave to File Reply. Signed by Judge Carl Barbier on 2/24/15. (sek)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF LOUISIANA
NEW ORLEANS CITY ET AL.
SECTION: “J” (5)
ORDER & REASONS
Before the Court is Defendants BMW of North America,
Volkswagen Group of America (VW)’s Motion for Summary Judgment
(Rec. Doc. 49) and Plaintiff Scott Laurent’s opposition thereto.
(Rec. Doc. 50) Having considered the motion and memoranda of
counsel, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds
that the motion should be GRANTED for the reasons set forth more
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
This litigation derives from the December 10, 2013, death
of Plaintiff’s father, Frederick Laurent (Mr. Laurent), after he
contracted mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos.
(Rec. Doc. 1) Mr. Laurent allegedly was exposed to asbestos
while working for the City of New Orleans’ brake tag station
from 1958 until 1986; at Gentilly Racing’s Fair Grounds from
1970 to 1977; and as a member of the United States Naval Reserve
in the 1950s and 1960s. (Rec. Doc. 1, Ex. B, ¶¶ VI-XXXIX; Rec.
working at the brake tag station, he was exposed to asbestos
from brakes manufactured by Defendants BMW, Daimler, and VW,
among others. (Rec. Docs. 1, 49-1, 50)
Plaintiff brought his wrongful death and survival action in
Louisiana state court against BMW, Daimler, VW, and others on
July 24, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 1, Ex. B) The case was removed to this
Court on September 4, 2014. (Rec. Doc. 1) This Court denied
Plaintiff’s motion to remand on October 23, 2014. (Rec. Docs.
On January 30, 2015, Defendants filed the instant Motion
motion on February 11, 2015. (Rec. Doc. 50)
Defendants argue that they are entitled to judgment as a
matter of law for two main reasons. First, Plaintiff presents
only the possibility that Mr. Laurent was exposed to asbestos
from their products. Plaintiff filed suit against BMW, Daimler,
and VW because he believes that “all types of cars went through”
the brake tag station during the period in which his father was
employed there. (Rec. Docs. 49-1, p. 3; id. Ex. A, p. 86-87) Mr.
Laurent was not deposed prior to his passing, and Plaintiff
cannot name any of Mr. Laurent’s coworkers from the brake tag
station. (Rec. Docs. 49-1; id. Ex. A, p. 68) Defendants argue
that the existence of the “aftermarket” for car parts further
prove that Mr. Laurent inspected Defendants’ cars, he could not
prove that those cars contained Defendants’ brakes. (Rec. Doc.
49-1, pp. 3-4) Second, Plaintiff cannot meet his burden under
Louisiana’s “substantial factor” test because any exposure to
Defendants’ products could only constitute a trivial factor in
Additionally, Plaintiff cannot rely on alternative theories of
liability, such as market share liability, because they are not
recognized under Louisiana substantive law. Id. at 9-10.
disputed such that summary judgment is inappropriate at this
strongly shows the defendants’ vehicles did pass through the
brake tag station” when Mr. Laurent was employed there. Id. at
Louisiana Product Liability Act (LPLA), applies in this case
because Mr. Laurent worked at the brake tag station before the
LPLA was enacted and the LPLA is not retroactive. Id. at 3-4.
Plaintiff also argues that Mr. Laurent’s exposure to asbestos
during the twenty-eight years over which he worked at the brake
tag station certainly could constitute a “substantial factor” in
Mr. Laurent’s development of mesothelioma. Id. at 4-5. Finally,
submitted. Id. at 5.
depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file,
together with the affidavits, if any, show there is no genuine
issue as to any material fact and that the moving party is
entitled to judgment as a matter of law. Little v. Liquid Air
Corp., 37 F.3d 1069, 1075 (5th Cir. 1994) (citing Fed. R. Civ.
demonstrating to the court that there is an absence of genuine
factual issues. Id. Once the moving party meets that burden, the
facts showing that there is a genuine issue of material fact in
dispute. Id. “A factual dispute is ‘genuine’ where a reasonable
jury could return a verdict for the non-moving party. If the
record, taken as a whole, could not lead a rational trier of
fact to find for the non-moving party, then there is no genuine
Roadway Exp., Inc., 199 F.3d 270, 272 (5th Cir. 2000) (citations
omitted). The non-moving party’s burden “is not satisfied with
‘conclusory allegations,’ by ‘unsubstantiated assertions,’ or by
only a ‘scintilla’ of evidence. [The courts] resolve factual
controversies in favor of the nonmoving party, but only when
there is an actual controversy, that is, when both parties have
submitted evidence of contradictory facts. [The courts] do not,
however, in the absence of any proof, assume that the nonmoving
party could or would prove the necessary facts.” Little, 37 F.3d
at 1075 (emphasis in original)(citations omitted).
To prevail on his claim against Defendants BMW, Daimler,
and VW, Plaintiff must prove that Mr. Laurent was exposed to
asbestos from Defendants’ products. Defendants correctly assert
“belief” that “all types of cars” went through the brake tag
station during Mr. Laurent’s employment there. See Celotex Corp.
party may not rest on the pleadings in opposing a motion for
Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586-87 (1986)(finding that
once the moving party has carried its burden under FED. R. CIV. P.
56(c), the nonmoving party “must do more than simply show that
there is some metaphysical doubt as to the material facts”).
strongly shows the defendants’ vehicles did pass through the
evidence—admissible or otherwise—to support that contention. Nor
Laurent was exposed to any asbestos-containing products, i.e.
Plaintiff alludes to the fact that he has not conducted any
“meaningful discovery,” Plaintiff has not included any affidavit
specifying the type of discovery he wishes to conduct and the
material facts such discovery likely would produce. See FED. R.
CIV. P. 56(d); Castro v. Tex. Dep’t of Criminal Justice, 541 F.
App’x 374, 377 (5th Cir. 2013)(noting that a party moving for a
continuance on a motion for summary judgment pending discovery
“must demonstrate how the requested discovery pertains to the
summary judgment motion and must have diligently pursued the
Plaintiff has failed to show that there exists a genuine factual
dispute precluding summary judgment or that the Court should
defer ruling on the motion pending discovery.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Summary
Judgment (Rec. Doc. 49) is GRANTED.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion for Leave to
File Reply (Rec. Doc. 51) is DENIED as moot.
New Orleans, Louisiana, this 24th day of February, 2015.
CARL J. BARBIER
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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