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Challenges to Sufficiency of Asbestos Plaintiffs’ Pleadings Continue in Illinois and Missouri Federal Courts (Mar. 5, 2015)


Challenges to Sufficiency of Asbestos Plaintiffs’ Pleadings Continue in Illinois and Missouri Federal Courts (Mar. 5, 2015)

March 6, 2015

In two decisions issued Thursday out of the Eastern District of Missouri and the Southern District of Illinois, the courts reached different conclusions as to whether the respective plaintiffs sufficiently pleaded causes of action against the defendants under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). In Campbell v. ABB  Inc., the defendant Raypack moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint or to compel a more definitive statement on the ground that the “Plaintiffs’ First Amended Petition fails to plead with sufficient particularity which of Raypack’s product(s) Charles Campbell was exposed to, and when and where the exposure occurred.”

The district court agreed, but granted the plaintiff leave to file a more definitive statement, stating: “Here, the amended complaint fails to identify any specific products manufactured by the moving Defendants, nor alleges in any fashion whatsoever the time, manner or degree of exposure Charles Campbell had to any products produced by the moving Defendants. This lack of information would force the moving Defendants to compare each of their products produced during a period greater than fifty years and guess which of them Charles Campbell had a chance of encountering.” Significantly, the court also recognized its obligation to avoid wasteful pretrial activities: “While discovery may provide more insight into Plaintiffs’ claims, foregoing competent pleading pending further discovery would be abandoning this court’s obligation to ‘administer’ our procedures so as to discourage wasteful pretrial activities and ‘secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action.’ Fed. R. Civ. P. 1. A more definite statement from Plaintiffs will focus the discovery process and expedite the disposition of this case in an economical manner.”

Read Campbell v. ABB Inc. here 

By contrast, in Hall v. Aqua-Chem Inc., the Southern District of Illinois denied the defendants Crane Co.’s 12(b)(6) motion on the grounds that the plaintiff did provide specifics on location and time of his claimed exposure. The court stated: “Plaintiff alleges that exposure to Crane’s products caused him to develop Asbestosis. More specifically, he alleges the exposure may have occurred between 1959 and 1977 while Plaintiff was on the USS Denebola AF-56 from 1959-61, the USS Cadmus AR-14 in 1961, the USS Mauna Loa AE-8 from 1961-62, the USS Edmonds DE-406 in 1963, the USS Enterprise CVA(N)-65 from 1964-68, the USS Truxton CVAN-35 from 1970-73, the USS Milwaukee AOR-2 from 1973-77 or while working in various Naval shipyards at times and locations specified in paragraph 2 of the First Amended Complaint. Here, Plaintiff has given specific locations, specific states, and specific time periods allowing Defendants ample notice in order to build a defense. As the Supreme Court noted in Twombly, a plaintiff need only state enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face. In this particular case, Plaintiff has succeeded in doing so. As such, the Court DENIES Defendant’s motion.”

Read Hall v. Aqua-Chem Inc. here 

If you have questions about how these cases may impact your business, please contact: