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Circumstantial Evidence Found Sufficient to Defeat Defendants' Motions for Summary Judgment District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, March 18, 2015

The plaintiff brought this action alleging asbestos exposure from working on defendants' pumps while serving in the Navy as a boiler technician from 1968 to 1972. The defendants, Buffalo and Warren Pumps, moved for summary judgment arguing that plaintiff could point to no evidence that he was exposed to asbestos containing material sold by them and that any exposure to their products was not a substantial factor in the development of his disease.

The court denied both motions and stated: “there is sufficient circumstantial evidence of such exposure to avoid summary judgment. Plaintiff has testified that he worked on pumps manufactured by both Buffalo and Warren. He has also testified that he worked on these pumps in close range, and that he breathed particles while servicing the packing and flange gaskets. Both Buffalo and Warren’s records indicate that they sold asbestos-containing replacement parts for their pumps to the U.S. Navy. Both defendants supplied pumps on the ships and it is reasonable to infer that it supplied replacement parts and materials required for the operation of the pumps. Indeed, Defendants point to no evidence that the Navy purchased the replacement parts for their respective pumps from any other company.”

In rejecting the defendants’ “substantial factor” argument the court held the "[d]efendants have not argued or shown that Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos-containing products outside of his tenure in the Navy where he spent time in an enclosed space, within arms' reach of asbestos-containing parts performing repair and maintenance on pumps or in close proximity to others working on the pumps.”

Read the full decision here

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