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Defendant Failed to Meet Initial Burden of Proof in Denial of Motion for Summary Judgment Supreme Court, New York County, March 9, 2015

In this NYCAL case, the plaintiff, John Storey, claimed exposure to asbestos floor tiles while employed as a floor tile helper and setter at various construction sites in New York City from 1960 through the mid-1980s. The defendant, Goodrich, moved for summary judgment claiming that the plaintiff had not provided any admissible evidence that he was exposed to asbestos from any of its floor tiles.

The court denied Goodrich’s motion because it found the company did not meet its initial prima facie burden: “The barebones affidavit upon which Goodrich relies herein provides, without any factual support, that Goodrich ‘manufactured and sold vinyl asbestos floor tile, as well as vinyl floor tile that contained no asbestos,’ and that ‘Goodrich exited the floor tile business entirely in 1963.’ It makes no mention of this action, does not indicate whether the affiant read Mr. Storey’s deposition testimony, and does not set forth the basis of her personal knowledge of the matters discussed therein. Given these circumstances, and there being no other evidence in the record to support the affiant's claims, I find that Goodrich has not met its prima facie burden. If anything, Goodrich’s claims that it manufactured both asbestos-containing and asbestos-free tiles is so broad that it actually raises material issues of fact as opposed to resolving them in its favor.”

Regarding Goodrich’s other arguments, on when and how the plaintiff first learned of the hazards of asbestos, that he could not identify any locations where he worked with Goodrich floor tiles, and could not describe the Goodrich floor tiles in specific detail, were all held to be credibility issues that impact the weight to be given to the plaintiff’s testimony by a jury at trial.

Read the decision here.

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