HENRY R. BLOUIN and JANET BLOUIN, Plaintiffs,
ALBANY INTERNATIONAL CORP., et al., Defendants.
Providence County Superior Court
Plaintiff: Vincent L. Greene, IV, Esq.
Defendant: Monica R. Nelson, Esq.Andrew R. McConville, Esq.
Defendant New England Insulation Company (Defendant or NEI)
seeks summary judgment in the above-entitled personal injury
matter brought by Plaintiffs Henry R. Blouin (Mr. Blouin or
the Decedent) and Janet Blouin (the Plaintiffs,
collectively). The Defendant contends that summary judgment
should be granted because, under Rhode Island law, the
Plaintiffs have not provided sufficient evidence of product
identification or causal connection. Further, the Defendant
maintains that the Plaintiffs' claims are barred by the
Rhode Island Statute of Repose. Finally, the Defendant argues
that Rhode Island substantive law should apply to the instant
action because the Plaintiffs have failed to provide proper
notice of their intent to apply Maine substantive law. The
Plaintiffs contend that the application of Maine law is
proper and that sufficient notice has been provided through
their Motion in Opposition to Summary Judgment. Additionally,
the Plaintiffs maintain that sufficient product
identification has been asserted under either Rhode Island or
Maine law to survive summary judgment and that neither the
Maine Statute of Repose nor the Rhode Island Statute of
Repose would bar their claims. This Court exercises
jurisdiction pursuant to G.L. 1956 § 8-2-14.
I Facts and Travel
Plaintiffs filed the underlying personal injury action on
June 26, 2013, asserting claims for negligence and breach of
warranty. The Plaintiffs named numerous defendants, including
NEI, and alleged that Mr. Blouin was exposed to
asbestos-containing products during his career as a laborer
at various job sites. Mr. Blouin worked at paper mills,
hospitals, universities, and Bath Iron Works from
approximately 1969 to 1983, and he was a member of Local 327
Laborer's Union from 1969 to 1990.
Blouin was deposed for three days in September of 2013. In
that deposition, Mr. Blouin stated that he worked as a
laborer for general contractors, such as Walsh Construction,
at jobsites located in southern and central Maine. Mr. Blouin
further testified that he worked at International Paper Mill
on at least five "shutdowns" for multiple
contractors from the late 1960s to the early 1970s; shutdowns
occurred when the mill was closed for maintenance or repair
work and lasted anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of
months. While working at the mill for Walsh Construction, Mr.
Blouin worked with pipe covering.
1973 to 1976, the Decedent worked at International Paper Mill
in the powerhouse and on paper machines. While employed at
International Paper Mill, Mr. Blouin cleaned up after all
trades throughout different areas of the mill. Mr.
Blouin's co-worker and brother, Larry Blouin, testified
that he and the Decedent worked together at the mill from
1973 to 1976. Mr. Larry Blouin stated that he and the
Decedent worked around other trades, including pipefitters,
and that there were insulation subcontractors present at the
mill. Mr. Larry Blouin testified that his work with the
Decedent involved removing pipe covering and working around
insulators who were installing pipe covering.
Maurice Morin, a worker at International Paper Mill,
testified in another suit that he worked on the paper
machines at the mill from 1956 until 1972. Mr. Morin recalled
that NEI was the insulation contractor that performed the
insulation work at International Paper Mill, since he
remembers seeing its name on the trucks. He testified that
NEI installed pipe covering at the mill and that this process
Defendant contends that the substantive law of Maine should
not apply to the instant action because the Plaintiffs failed
to comply with Super. R. Civ. P. 44.1, which states that
"[a] party who intends to raise an issue concerning the
law of a foreign country shall give notice by pleadings or
other reasonable written notice." The Defendant argues
that since the Plaintiffs failed to provide notice, this
Court should not entertain arguments on the application of
Maine law and should not apply Maine law to the present
Motion for Summary Judgment.
Defendant further maintains that under Rhode Island
substantive law, summary judgment should be granted because
Plaintiffs have failed to provide product identification or
evidence of a causal connection. Further, the Defendant
contends that the Plaintiffs' claims are barred under
Rhode Island's Statute of Repose because the Defendant,
as an insulation contractor, clearly qualifies for protection
under the statute's language.
Plaintiffs contend that Maine substantive law should apply to
the instant action and they raise a choice-of-law argument in
their brief in opposition to the Defendant's Motion for
Summary Judgment. In that choice-of-law argument, the
Plaintiffs contend that there is a true conflict between
Rhode Island and Maine substantive law. They maintain that
the State of Maine has a superior interest in the matter
because factually, the work, the injury, and relationship
between the parties all occurred in Maine. The Plaintiffs
additionally claim that they have provided sufficient notice
of their intent to apply foreign law in their opposing brief,
since the Rhode Island Rules of Civil Procedure allow for
notice in the pleadings or otherwise.
Maine law, the Plaintiffs maintain that they have offered
sufficient evidence of product identification in relation to
NEI. They contend that under a recent Supreme Judicial Court
of Maine holding, they have provided evidence to show proper
product nexus and causation sufficient to survive summary
judgment. Additionally, the Plaintiffs aver that their claims
are not barred by either the Maine or Rhode Island Statute of
Repose because the Defendant does not meet the statutory
definitions under either statute.
Defendant contends that the substantive law of Maine should
not apply to the present action because the Defendant was not
provided proper notice as required by Super. R. Civ. P. 44.1.
The Plaintiffs contend that proper notice was provided via
their objection brief under the Rhode Island Rules of Civil
Procedure. The Plaintiffs assert ...