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Stevens v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp.

United States District Court, D. Rhode Island

March 16, 2017

SUZANN STEVENS, Personally and as Representative and Trustee of the Estate of JAMES STEVENS, Plaintiffs,
v.
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, AS SUCCESSOR BY MERGER TO BUFFALO PUMPS, INC. et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          WILLIAM E. SMITH, Chief Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendant Foster Wheeler's Motion for Summary Judgment. (ECF No. 251.) Magistrate Judge Lincoln D. Almond recommended that Defendant's Motion be denied (Report and Recommendation, ECF No. 267), and Defendant filed an Objection (Def.'s Obj., ECF No. 269). For the reasons set forth below, the Report and Recommendation is ACCEPTED.

         I. Standard of Review

         The facts presented by the parties must be viewed “giving the benefit of reasonable doubt to those against whom the motion is directed.” Stella v. Town of Tewksbury, Mass., 4 F.3d 53, 55 (1st Cir. 1993). The Court will then grant summary judgment only “if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The Court reviews Magistrate Judge Almond's Report and Recommendation de novo. See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1).

         II. Background

         James Stevens served as a boiler technician aboard the USS Allagash from July 7, 1951 until October 11, 1952. (Pl.'s Statement of Additional Undisputed Facts ¶¶ 88-89, ECF No. 259-2.[1]) The boilers on the Allagash were manufactured by Defendant Foster Wheeler. (Id. ¶ 87.) During construction of those boilers, Foster Wheeler used “asbestos containing materials” and also “provided additional asbestos-containing materials to be used in the boilers.” (Id.) Mr. Stevens came in contact with Foster Wheeler's boilers and was exposed to asbestos. (Id. ¶ 94.) Several decades later, on August 30, 2013, Mr. Stevens was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Mr. Stevens passed away less than two years after that diagnosis, on January 19, 2015. (Id. ¶ 84.) Several experts have provided opinions linking Mr. Stevens' mesothelioma with his exposure to asbestos while aboard the Allagash. (See Id. ¶¶ 99-100.)

         Plaintiff brought suit against Foster Wheeler, along with several other parties, for damages relating to Mr. Stevens' exposure to asbestos. (See Compl., ECF No. 1-1.) After discovery was complete, Foster Wheeler moved for summary judgment on five grounds:

(1) Plaintiff's claims against Foster Wheeler are barred by the government contractor defense;
(2) Foster Wheeler is not liable for products it did not manufacture, design, supply, or install;
(3) Plaintiff's claims against Foster Wheeler are barred by the “sophisticated user” defense;
(4) Plaintiff's claim for punitive damages is barred under maritime law; and
(5) Plaintiff's claim for loss of consortium is barred under maritime law.

(Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 2, ECF No. 251-1.) In response, Plaintiff abandoned the punitive damages claim but opposed the remainder of Foster Wheeler's Motion. (See Pl.'s Opp'n to Def.'s Mot. for Summ. J. 60, ECF No. 259.) The Court ...


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