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Sons' Use of Distributor's Brake Parts Held Not Speculative in Take-Home Exposure Case NYCAL, March 18, 2015

In this case, the plaintiff’s decedent is claimed to have been exposed to asbestos from laundering her sons’ (Joseph and Frank Ferraro) work clothes that were asbestos laden from their work, and the work of others in their vicinity, with NAPA-purchased brakes. Joseph Ferraro testified to working at a service station and dealership in the early to mid-1970s, where he assisted and was in the vicinity of mechanics doing brake work. The NAPA-supplied brakes used at both locations only showed the NAPA logo and part names and numbers. Both sons also testified to working on their own cars in the early 1970s and purchasing NAPA brakes from a local store.

The defendant, Abex, moved for summary judgment arguing that it was only one of several suppliers of brake linings to Rayloc, a company that supplied brakes to NAPA. Abex further argued that the sons could only speculate that they worked with Abex-supplied brakes as NAPA-purchased brake products from other companies beside Rayloc and all the NAPA brakes were subsequently sold in NAPA packaging. In support of its motion, Abex relied on the testimony and interrogatory responses of Rayloc’s parent company corporate representative, Paul LeCour, who had set forth in two unrelated matters that Rayloc sold new brake shoes which did not have Abex lining on them and they purchased friction materials from 24 other named manufacturers at various times. In denying Abex’s motion, the court searched the record and cited to Mr. LeCour’s testimony where he stated that Abex was the main supplier of asbestos brake parts to Rayloc, that Abex parts were preferred over other manufacturers’ parts and that other primary suppliers were considered only when Abex advised in 1987 that it would no longer produce asbestos-containing brake parts.

As held by the court: “There are sufficient facts from which a jury could infer that Joseph and Frank Ferraro used, or were in the vicinity of someone using a Rayloc brake product which contained Abex asbestos-containing friction material. There are unquestionably issues of fact in this case which preclude granting summary judgment in defendant’s favor.”

Read the full decision here

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