“The scope of a manufacturer’s duty to warn of the potential hazards of asbestos from component parts supplied by others has been a hotly litigated issue for more than a decade,” write Susan E. Van Gelder and Jason A. Botticelli, attorneys in Goldberg Segalla’s Toxic Torts Practice Group. “The issue was finally addressed by the New York Court of Appeals following a Buffalo-based verdict in Suttner and the NYCAL verdict in Dummitt.”
In this article, Susan and Jason review a recent consequential decision by the New York State Court of Appeals, which ruled that Crane, a valve manufacturer, had “a duty to warn of the danger arising from the known and reasonably foreseeable use of its product in combination with a third-party product which, as a matter of design, mechanics or economic necessity, is necessary to enable the manufacturer’s product to function as intended.”
Susan and Jason examine how the ruling will affect future cases and what manufacturers need to do to successfully establish they did not have a duty to warn customers of similar dangers.
“Going forward, in New York a manufacturer will need to establish it had no duty to warn of third-party component parts by showing several things,” they write. “For one, it must show its products could be used just as effectively and economically with non-asbestos containing parts.It must also show that asbestos-containing parts were not held out by the manufacturer to be the preferred replacement parts — and that it was the customer’s choice to use the asbestos-containing parts over the non-asbestos parts.”