Application of Seven Lockwood Factors Creates Issues of Material Fact; Summary Judgment on Product Liability Claim Denied United States District Court, W.D. Washington, December 10, 2019

WASHINGTON – The latest development in a case extensively covered by Asbestos Case Tracker finds the Western District of Washington denying defendant Pneumo Abex LLC’s motion for summary judgment.

This matter was filed on behalf of the decedent, Rudie Klopman-Baerselman, in the Pierce County Superior Court on October 27, 2017 and removed to United States District Court. The plaintiff alleged that the decedent was exposed to asbestos through his maintenance work on vehicles, including friction work, from approximately 1966 to 1997, as well as through his work as a Dutch Merchant Marine from approximately 1955 to 1959.

The seminal products liability case in Washington, Lockwood v. AC & S, Inc., enumerates seven factors to consider when determining if there is sufficient evidence for a jury to find that causation has been established:

  1. The plaintiff’s proximity to an asbestos product when the exposure occurred
  2. The expanse of the work site where asbestos fibers were released
  3. The extent of time the plaintiff was exposed to the product
  4. The types of asbestos products to which plaintiff was exposed
  5. The ways in which such products were handled and used
  6. The tendency of such products to release asbestos fibers into the air depending on their form and the methods in which they were handled and
  7. Other potential sources of the plaintiff’s injury; courts must consider evidenced presented as to medical causation

After analyzing the seven Lockwood factors, the court specifically found that the plaintiff’s evidence: demonstrated that the decedent worked with Pneumo Abex products; described the decedent’s worksites; enumerated the total number of years the decedent worked with Pneumo Abex products; described the work the decedent performed on the alleged asbestos-containing products attributable to Pneumo Abex; described the decedent’s work as dusty, supported by studies and scientific articles regarding the release of asbestos fibers through his work as a mechanic; and expert reports. The court held the plaintiff’s “evidence demonstrates that there are genuine issues of material fact with respect to the plaintiff’s products liability claim.” Therefore, the court determined that there was sufficient evidence for a jury to find that causation has been established.

Accordingly, the court denied in part (the plaintiff’s product liability claim), and granted in part based upon no opposition from the plaintiff (claims for negligence, conspiracy, strict liability and premises liability), Pneumo Abex LLC’s motion for summary judgment.

Read the case decision here.