BARRY v. 3M COMPANY ET ALS.
MIDDLESEX SUPERIOR COURT
In this case, our firm secured dismissal of a long-time pipe supplier client from costly mesothelioma litigation filed against 30+ manufacturers, suppliers and distributors in the New England area. Mesothelioma cases typically involve claims for wrongful death and/or permanent injuries (including pain an suffering) caused by the inhalation of asbestos-containing products. Companies who are shown to have sold and-or failed to provide adequate warning as to the dangers of asbestos products can be held strictly liable for significant (multi-million) damages, even years if not decades after exposure. Mesothelioma cases require the hiring of costly experts to provide opinions at trial on the plaintiff’s medical history, and whether or not the plaintiff’s exposure to the defendants’ products led to the medical issues suffered by the plaintiff.
Although our client’s corporate name had been around since the early 20th century as a seller of pipe and appurtenances in Massachusetts, its current owners had only purchased the business assets (including the corporate name) in 1986 – well after the use of asbestos pipe in the construction industry had been widely discontinued, and after the plaintiff’s alleged exposure. In fact, the client’s owners had set up a brand new company to purchase these assets, and the selling corporation continued its corporate existence for another 10 years after the sale. Our firm was therefore able to show that our client could not be liable to the plaintiff on a “corporate successor” theory, based on his exposure to any products that our client’s corporate predecessor may have supplied to construction sites between 1968 and 1972. We also demonstrated that the plaintiff had failed to produce sufficient evidence of any asbestos-containing products supplied by the corporate predecessor to any construction sites on which the plaintiff worked during this time. After a motion for summary judgment on these issues was granted by the Court, our small business client was dismissed from suit prior to trial, saving it enormous expense in terms of litigation fees and unjust liability.