Superior Court of California, Sacramento County, November 9, 2022
In this asbestos matter, the plaintiffs alleged that the deceased, Gail Chandler, developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to products containing asbestos. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendant, Parts Warehouse, a retailer, sold parts containing asbestos to the deceased and/or the deceased’s employer and that those parts resulted in the deceased’s exposure to asbestos. The plaintiffs further argued that Parts Warehouse was also liable for parts sourced through its alternative entity; Lamus-Lundlee Co. Parts Warehouse filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiffs could not show that Parts Warehouse or Lamus-Lundlee actually supplied asbestos-containing products to the decedent or his employer.
In support of its application, Parts Warehouse argued that the plaintiff only identified Borg Warner clutches that Parts Warehouse allegedly sold as containing asbestos. Parts Warehouse relied on the statement of its former President, Bob Glyer, who stated that since Parts Warehouse only sold asbestos-free clutches, the identified Borg Warner clutches could not contain asbestos. Glyer further explained that after the merger of Parts Warehouse and Lamus-Lundlee in 1996, Lamus-Lundlee sourced Borg Warner clutches from Parts Warehouse, which continued to sell only asbestos-free clutches. Finally, Glyer confirmed that Parts Warehouse had no record of the deceased or his employer ever being a customer of either company.
The court eventually found that the plaintiffs questioned the sufficiency and accuracy of Glyer’s explanation, which was sufficient to deny a motion for summary judgment. First, Glyer’s affidavit could not confirm whether Lamus-Lundlee purchased Borg Warner clutches from sources other than Parts Warehouse. Second, evidence showed that Borg Warner did not start selling asbestos-free couplings until 1988, and Glyer admitted that he could not dispute evidence that Parts Warehouse might have supplied asbestos-containing couplings before that date. The court found this point particularly persuasive given that the deceased claimed to have been exposed to parts containing asbestos as early as 1980. Finally, the court also found that the deceased was allegedly exposed to other asbestos-containing parts supplied by Parts Warehouse and the Glyer did not address whether another product allegedly distributed by Parts Warehouse to the deceased or his employer , was asbestos-free. For these reasons, Parts Warehouse’s motion for summary judgment was denied.
Read the full decision here.