Plaintiff: John E. Deaton, Esq.
Defendant: Andrew R. McConville, Esq. Marc E. Finkel, Esq.
Lisa M. Kresge, Esq. Kevin J. McAllister, Esq.
the Court for decision are the Defendants'-Evenheat Kiln,
Inc. (Evenheat) and Sargent Art, Inc. (Sargent Art)-Motions
for Summary Judgment. Evenheat further requests entry of a
separate judgment on its motion to strike Plaintiff's
affidavit pursuant to the "sham affidavit"
doctrine. The Defendants contend that summary judgment should
be granted because the Plaintiff, Loretta Belac (Plaintiff),
has not produced sufficient evidence of product
identification or a causal connection. The Plaintiff objects
to the motions, arguing that there are genuine issues of
material fact for trial and that appropriate product
identification and causal connection between the
Plaintiff's injuries and the Defendants' products has
been shown. This Court heard oral arguments in this matter on
September 6, 2017 and now exercises jurisdiction pursuant to
G.L. 1956 § 8-2-14 and Super. R. Civ. P. 56.
Plaintiff originally filed this personal injury action on
February 9, 2016, asserting claims for failure to warn,
negligence, strict product liability, breach of warranty, and
conspiracy. The Plaintiff named several defendants,
including Evenheat and Sargent Art. In her Complaint, the
Plaintiff alleges that over the course of her career crafting
ceramics from her home business, she was exposed to
asbestos-containing products manufactured by the Defendants.
She contends that this exposure ultimately caused her to
discovery, Plaintiff was deposed over the course of six days
from June to September of 2016. Both Evenheat and Sargent Art
attended the deposition. Plaintiff died last year due to
complications from her illness. At the time of this Decision,
Plaintiff's counsel has not moved for the appropriate
substitution of parties pursuant to Super. R. Civ. P. 25.
a kiln manufacturing company, unlike other defendants in this
matter, never contested jurisdiction in Rhode
Island. Rather, after responding to
Plaintiff's discovery requests, Evenheat brought a Motion
for Summary Judgment on December 22, 2016, alleging a lack of
product identification and insufficient causal connection.
The Plaintiff later filed an objection to Evenheat's
Motion for Summary Judgment on May 22, 2017. Evenheat
responded to Plaintiff's objection on August 31, 2017 and
filed an accompanying motion to strike Plaintiff's
daughter's affidavit-completed on May 10, 2017 by Faith
Belac Cope (Belac Cope)-under the "sham affidavit"
doctrine. Oral arguments on the summary judgment motion were
scheduled and heard on September 6, 2017.
Art, a craft product company, also did not contest
jurisdiction in Rhode Island and filed a Motion for Summary
Judgment in this matter on January 10, 2017. Sargent Art
contends that the record is absent evidence showing Plaintiff
worked with its products. Therefore, it asserts that the
Plaintiff has not met her burden regarding adequate product
identification and causal connection evidence. Sargent Art
filed an objection to Plaintiff's voluntary motion for
dismissal on March 30, 2017. Following the denial of her
motion, the Plaintiff filed an objection to Sargent Art's
Motion for Summary Judgment on ...