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U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington – Possibility of Product on Ship and Navy Prohibition on Warnings Found to Be Issues of Fact (Feb. 11, 2015) February 17, 2015

In this case, the decedent was allegedly exposed to Insulag aboard the USS Trenton, which was allegedly sold by a predecessor in interest to defendant Lonestar Industries, Inc. Lonestar moved for summary judgment on the grounds that Insulag could not have been used because it failed to meet Navy specifications. Lonestar also moved on the grounds that the Navy allegedly prohibited the seller of products from effectively communicating any warnings to the users. The district court concluded that there were issues of fact on both grounds. With respect to the specification issue, the court stated: “Specifically, plaintiff has raised genuine issues of material fact by citing to deposition testimony that Insulag was not only used on the Trenton, but also installed both in the engine rooms and on the boilers and turbine, the location and equipment Mr. McCrossin described working in and with.” On the warning issue, the court stated: “A genuine issue of material fact exists as to whether the Navy prohibited any asbestos warnings on the Trenton. By way of example, Captain Burger testified that the Navy ‘would have welcomed any help they could get in the way of warning and protecting their people’ and that ‘[the Navy] would have allowed [asbestos warnings on asbestos insulation on the Trenton].’”

The court also denied the summary judgment motion of defendant Lockheed Ship Building Company, the ship builder, because there were issues of fact as to whether Lockheed installed the insulation on the Trenton and whether the elements of the sovereign immunity defense were met.

Click here for a copy of the decision.

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