Justia Products Liability Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in New York Court of Appeals
Starting during World War II, Crane sold valves to the Navy for use in high-pressure, high-temperature steam pipe systems. Crane's valves did not contain asbestos, but could not practically function in such systems without gaskets, insulation and packing. Crane's technical drawings specified the use of asbestos-based sealing components. Crane packaged the Navy’s valves with asbestos gaskets and stem packing. Navy specifications called for gaskets, valves and insulation that contained asbestos. Crane also marketed "Cranite," an asbestos-based sheet material for use in producing replacements for the original gaskets and packing. Starting in the 1930s, trade associations to which Crane belonged, issued publications describing the hazards of exposure to dust from asbestos-based products. In the 1960s, one group published an article summarizing the growing evidence of a connection between asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Until at least 1980, Crane never provided warnings. In a suit on behalf of a Navy technician, diagnosed with mesothelioma, the court instructed the jury on the duty to warn against latent dangers resulting from foreseeable uses of its product of which the manufacturer knew or should have known, and on causation, stating that any presumption that the technician would have heeded warnings was rebuttable. The jury found Crane 99% liable and awarded $32 million in damages. The New York Court of Appeals affirmed. The manufacturer 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 noted proof of Crane's affirmative steps to integrate its valves with third-party asbestos-laden products. View "In re: New York City Asbestos Litig." on Justia Law