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Manufacturers Liable for Asbestos Components

Appellate Court: Taylor Was Wrongly Decided – Equipment Manufacturers Are Liable for Asbestos Components

Appellate Court’s decision in O’Neil finds the reasoning of Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery “flawed” and rejects component parts and “stream of commerce” arguments

LOS ANGELES – September 21, 2009 – On Friday Justice Armstrong, writing for the Second District Court of Appeal of California, reversed the trial court’s dismissal of an action against Navy equipment manufacturers in O’Neil et al, v. Crane Co. et al.The O’Neil court found the First District’s decision in Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co., Inc. (2009) 171 Ca.App.4th 564 (“Taylor“) misapplied the component part defense, and found that pump and valve manufacturers are liable for asbestos replacement parts and asbestos materials that are necessary to the operation of defendants’ high temperature equipment.

After a three week jury trial, the trial court granted Crane Co.’s and Warren Pumps LLC’s motion for nonuist, entering judgment in favor of Crane Co. and Warren Pumps LLC based on the component parts defense. In response to Plaintiffs’ appeal, defendants claimed the judgment should be upheld under Taylor. The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court’s decision stating that, “In sum, we believe that Taylor was wrongly decided.”

The Appellate Court said that a manufacturer’s liability extends to the components of its products, such as in the O’Neil case, where asbestos-containing components  were incorporated into the manufacturers’ equipment – components that they knew would be replaced over time with the same kind of asbestos-components. The O’Neil court found that a manufacturer “is liable in strict liability for dangerous components of its products, and for dangerous products with which its product will necessarily be used.”

The Appellants are represented by Paul C. Cook and Michael B. Gurien, both partners at Waters Kraus & Paul in the firm’s Los Angeles office and Jeffrey Isaac Ehrlich of The Ehrlich Law Firm located in Claremont, California.

About Waters Kraus & Paul

Waters Kraus & Paul is the West Coast practice of Waters & Kraus, LLP – a nationally recognized plaintiffs’ firm concentrating on complex product liability and personal injury/wrongful death cases, particularly asbestos-mesothelioma. In addition to toxic tort litigation, the firm’s diverse practice includes pharmaceutical product liability, negligence, elder financial abuse, consumer product liabilty, and class actions, as well as qui tam (whistleblower) and commercial litigation. With offices in California, Texas, and Maryland, Waters & Kraus, LLP has litigated cases in jurisdictions across the united States on behalf of individuals from all 50 states, as well as foreign governments.

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