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Tile Manufacturer’s Failure to Establish a Prima Facie Case on Lack of Exposure to Its Product Leads to Denial of Summary Judgment

NYCAL, April 10, 2015

In this NYCAL case, the plaintiff, Richard LeFrak, claimed exposure to asbestos joint compound and Amtico floor tiles manufactured and sold by the  defendant, American Biltrite (“AB”), while he was a student and janitor at Stony Brook University between 1965 and 1969. AB, who did not dispute that it sold asbestos-containing floor tiles during the relevant time period, moved for summary judgment, claiming the plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case against AB because he could not show  he specifically came into contact with the Amtico tiles.

In denying the motion, the court reviewed the plaintiff’s testimony about generally being around others installing unidentified floor tiles, in conjunction with the testimony of a non-party union carpenter, Joseph Glasso, who recalled Amtico tiles being used at Stony Brook.  In ruling, the court noted that AB relied on the incorrect standard for summary judgment and stated: “as the moving party (here, AB) must establish a prima facie case. Tellingly, even AB’s memorandum of law reflects that defendant cannot meet its burden by conceding that, at a minimum, ‘Mr. Galasso’s testimony merely raises the possibility that Amtico tiles were used at Stony Brook when Mr. Lefrak was present there.’”

Read the full decision here.

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