All Press Releases for July 01, 2016

In Landmark Opinion, New York Court of Appeals Imposes A Duty To Warn On A Manufacturer For Hazards Associated With Its Product's Combined Use With The Products Of Other Manufacturers

New York Court of Appeals has concluded that manufacturers have a duty to warn product users of any dangers arising from the use of their products in combination with third-party products.

The ruling is a victory for consumers, workers, and their families.

    NEW YORK, NY, July 01, 2016 /24-7PressRelease/ -- New York Mesothelioma Law Firm Belluck & Fox is proud to announce that in a unanimous vote the New York Court of Appeals - the highest court in the State - has concluded that manufacturers have a duty to warn product users of any dangers arising from the use of their products in combination with third-party products, where the third-party products are necessary to enable the manufacturer's product to function as intended. The ruling is a victory for consumers, workers, and their families.

In August of 2011, Belluck & Fox won a $32 million verdict in favor of our client, Ronald Dummitt, against Crane Co. in the case of Ronald Dummitt and Doris Kay Dummitt v. A.W. Chesterton, et al. (No. 190196/10). Mr. Dummitt was a boiler technician in the US Navy who was exposed to asbestos from maintaining Crane valves. As a result, he developed, and later died from, pleural mesothelioma. Crane Co. sold valves to the US Navy for use in high-pressure, high-temperature steam pipe systems on Navy ships. Crane Co. did not supply the specific asbestos components of its valves that Mr. Dummitt was exposed to, but such components were required to permit Crane's valves to function as intended in such an intense environment. Crane maintained that because it did not supply the asbestos components, it could not be liable for failing to warn Mr. Dummitt of the hazards of asbestos exposure. The jury found Crane 99% liable for Mr. Dummitt's exposure and disease, concluding that Crane acted in reckless disregard for the safety of others in failing to warn about the dangers of asbestos exposure. They awarded him and his family $16 million for past pain and suffering and $16 million for future pain and suffering. Crane Co. sought post-verdict review from the trial court, but in August 2012 Justice Joan Madden denied Crane's post-verdict motions for judgment notwithstanding the verdict or for a new trial and affirmed the company's 99% liability for the asbestos exposure that eventually led to Mr. Dummitt's death. She remitted the value of the verdict from $32 million to $8 million in that decision.

Crane appealed to the Appellate Division, First Department, which affirmed the judgment against Crane in all respect in a 3-2 vote. Because of the two-Justice dissent, Crane Co. was permitted to appeal to the Court of Appeals. Argument at the Court of Appeals was held on May 3, 2016. Belluck & Fox partner Seth Dymond represented Mr. Dummit's Estate before the court, while Caitlin J. Halligan of Gibson Dunn represented Crane Co.

The main question before the Court was: to what extent did a manufacturer have a duty to warn of dangers in a product's intended use, if the specific dangers arose from a third-party's product that was necessary to permit the original manufacturer's product to function as intended.

The Court, in a 6-0 vote (with one Justice taking no part), rejected all of Crane's arguments, holding that "Consistent with our decision in Rastelli v Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. (79 NY2d 289 [1992]), we hold that the manufacturer of a product has a duty to warn of the danger arising from the known and reasonably foreseeable use of its product in combination with a third-party product which, as a matter of design, mechanics or economic necessity, is necessary to enable the manufacturer's product to function as intended."

The Court's opinion is a significant victory for workers because it recognizes the importance of providing adequate warnings for the use of complex products that may require many individual parts separately manufactured, but whose synergistic use is the only way in which the main product will work as intended.

Judge Abdus-Salaam wrote the main opinion for the Court, with Judges Pigott, Rivera, Stein and Fahey concurring. Judge Garcia wrote a separate, concurring opinion. Judge Fiore took no part.

About Belluck & Fox

Belluck & Fox, LLP, is a nationally recognized law firm that represents individuals with asbestos and mesothelioma claims, as well as victims of crime, motorcycle crashes, lead paint and other serious injuries. The firm provides personalized and professional representation and has won over $650 million in compensation for clients and their families. The firm has been named one of the top law firms in America by U.S. News & World Report every year since 2011.

Partner Joseph W. Belluck is AV-rated by Martindale-Hubbell and is listed in Best Lawyers in America, New York Magazine's "Best Lawyers in the New York Area" and in Super Lawyers. Mr. Belluck has won numerous cases involving injuries from asbestos, defective medical products, tobacco and lead paint, including a recent asbestos case that settled for more than $12 million.

Partner Jordan Fox is an award-winning, nationally-recognized asbestos attorney. In 2013 he was named "Lawyer of the Year" for the New York Metro area by Best Lawyers in America after securing $32 million and $19.5 million verdicts in two separate asbestos cases. He is regularly listed in the annual Best Lawyers in America list and has also appeared in Super Lawyers. A number of his verdicts have been featured among the National Law Journal's Largest Verdicts of the Year.

For more information, contact the firm at (877) 637-6843 or through the online contact form.

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Joseph DiCastro
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