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Supreme Court, New York County (NYCAL) - Court Finds Duty to Warn if Machine Is Used to Grind Asbestos-Containing Brakes (Feb. 20, 2015) March 2, 2015

The plaintiff commenced this action against several defendants including Hennessey Industries Inc. as successor-in-interest to Ammco Tools Inc., a manufacturer of a brake grinding machine, claiming decedent was exposed to asbestos in an auto repair shop. Hennessey moved for summary judgment on the ground that its “grinding machines did not contain asbestos parts and were designed to grind brake shoes regardless of their asbestos content.” Hennessey, relying on the Court of Appeals decision in Rastelli v Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., 79 NY2d 289, 297 (1992), argued that this foreseeability was too far attenuated to impose a duty to warn.

The New York Supreme Court rejected the argument, stating: “[It] is evident that Ammco’s brake grinding machines were designed solely for the purpose of manipulating brake shoes, most if not all of which would have been asbestos containing during the relevant time, and that the intended operation of its machines created the exact hazardous condition at issue herein. Thus, the connection between Ammco's brake grinding machine and Mr. Vellucci's alleged asbestos exposure is anything but attenuated.”

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