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Ganoe v. Metalclad Insulation Corp: On Defendant’s Attempts at Obtaining Summary Judgment

Our Boston mesothelioma attorneys understand that the companies responsible for producing and installing toxic asbestos often choose to spend their money fighting just claims from people diagnosed with mesothelioma. These corporate defendants will attempt to use the discovery process as a weapon to avoid taking responsibility for their negligence.

gavel9.jpgGanoe v. Metalclad Insulation Corp., an appeal argued before the California Court of Appeals, involved a plaintiff who worked at a tire factory from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Slightly more than 30 years since he stopped working at the tire plant, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is a deadly form of lung cancer most commonly associated with asbestos exposure.

The plaintiff filed a negligence lawsuit against his former employer four months after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma, claiming that he was exposed to asbestos fibers during the course of his employment. The plaintiff died after filing the lawsuit, and his estate converted the cases into a survivorship and wrongful death action.

The defendant moved for summary judgment, asking that the case be dismissed on grounds that the plaintiff had failed to prove he was ever exposed to asbestos. The defendant claimed that the plaintiff’s responses to discovery requests were insufficient and that the plaintiff failed to produce any witnesses who could substantiate his exposure to asbestos.
During the discovery process, the parties can send each other various requests. A request for admissions requires the recipient to admit or deny certain facts. A set of interrogatories is a series of questions a party is required to answer under oath. A request for production of documents requires that certain documents be provided to the opposing party, and an oral deposition is where the party is required to sit and answer questions under oath.

In Ganoe, the defendant sent a set of standard boilerplate discovery requests and claimed that they were not sufficiently answered. The main question was whether the defendant, a company that performed work at the tire plant, had exposed the plaintiff to asbestos. The discovery produced showed that the defendant installed a chalky white pre-formed steam pipe at the plant during the course of the plaintiff’s employment.

According to an affidavit from a plaintiff expert witness, given the description of the pipe and the time it was installed, he was 99 percent certain that the pipe was covered in asbestos. The trial court concluded that this was not sufficient proof and granted the defendant’s motion for summary judgment.

On appeal, the trial court found that this was sufficient proof of a claim to allow the case to continue and go before a jury to decide on liability. The trial court’s decision to grant the defendant’s motion for summary judgment was reversed, and the case was remanded for further proceedings.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

Ganoe v. Metalclad Insulation Corp. July 21, 2014, California Court of Appeals http://statecasefiles.justia.com/documents/california/court-of-appeal/2014-b248941.pdf?ts=1406019841
More Blog Entries:

Prevalence of Asbestos Means Decades of Litigation, April 14, 2014, Boston Mesothelioma Lawyers Blog