RRD Prevails at Summary Judgment Stage in Two Significant Asbestos Decisions

January 8, 2013

RRD partner Charles A.  Deluca, and his associates Gina M. Von Oehsen and Peter E. DeMartini, recently prevailed on two separate motions for summary judgment in asbestos product liability claims brought against their client, a contractor who built and maintained a large pharmaceutical plant in Connecticut.  This win is significant not only for their client, but for the construction industry as a whole, since these decisions provide precedent in Connecticut that construction companies can not be held liable under a products liability theory for other manufacturers’ products which are used or incorporated in the construction process.

In their complaints, the plaintiffs claimed that their decedents developed mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from their work at the pharmaceutical plant during the 1960’s and 1970’s.  RRD’s client was the general contractor which built and maintained the pharmaceutical plant where the plaintiffs worked and where they alleged they were exposed to asbestos. The plaintiffs in Mazzaia v. A.O. Smith Corp., CV-11-5029478 and Selvidio v. Alfa Laval, Inc. CV-11-601788 brought claims against the general contractor under the Connecticut Products Liability Act, Gen. Stats. § 52-572m et seq., which represents the exclusive remedy for such claims brought against product manufacturers and sellers.  Plaintiffs under the act are able to avail themselves of the 60 year statute of repose for bringing asbestos related claims.

RRD successfully argued that the Connecticut Products Liability Act excludes from the definition of a “product seller” entities that are in the business of installation, repairs and service.  RRD argued that contracts for the rendition of services should not transform the construction company into a “product seller.”  The court held that there was insufficient evidence of a “nexus between the defendant and the products it purchased” at the pharmaceutical plant which would justify classifying the defendant as a “product seller.”

RRD was able to prevent its client from being exposed to the almost infinite liability for each and every product used in building and maintaining this large pharmaceutical plant.

Click here to review the decisions in Selvidio v. Alfa Laval and Mazzaia v. A.O. Smith Corp.