Calif. Court Rejects ‘Newly Discovered Evidence’ in John Crane’s Motion to Reconsider Summary Judgment Order

August 20, 2014 – Media Coverage

LOS ANGELES –– A California federal court has rejected John Crane’s efforts to have the court reconsider a motion for summary judgment previously denied by the court, noting that the “newly discovered” evidence cited by the asbestos defendant was published more than 50 years ago.

In the Aug. 18 opinion, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California additionally opined that even if the evidence could not have been found with due diligence, the defendant still failed to prove that a co-defendant’s manufacture of a similar product would permit an award of summary judgment.

The plaintiffs contended in their lawsuit that Donald Willis was exposed to asbestos-containing products while serving in the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years. As a result of the exposure, Willis developed malignant mesothelioma, the plaintiffs said.

The court had previously denied John Crane Inc.’s motion for summary judgment.

The defendant, however, moved for reconsideration of that order, citing new evidence that indicated that another defendant in the proceedings –– Crane Co. –– produced a gasket material branded “Crane.”

John Crane therefore argued that when the plaintiff identified the product with which he was working as “Crane” products, he could have been working with either John Crane or Crane Co.’s gasket material.

“Therefore, he cannot prove threshold exposure to John Crane’s products by a preponderance of the evidence,” the defendant maintained.

The federal court declined to grant the motion for reconsideration, however, noting that John Crane’s “new” evidence is a series of images from Crane Co.’s catalogs published in 1960.

“Defendant has failed to explain why it could not have discovered this evidence with reasonable diligence and produced it in support of its motion for summary judgment,” the court opined. “Notably, Defendant filed their motion for summary judgment 53 years after Exhibit C was published in 1960. Moreover, even if the evidence could not have been discovered with due diligence before Defendant filed their motion for summary judgment, the Court nonetheless finds that it does not change the outcome of Defendant’s motion for the reasons outlined in the Court’s denial of Defendant’s motion.”

The court also reasoned that the fact that Crane Co. manufactured the gaskets during a similar time frame does not “meaningfully impact the Court’s analysis.”

“Accordingly, the evidence is not ‘newly discovered’ and does not warrant reconsideration of the Court’s order denying Defendant’s motion for summary judgment,” the court concluded.

Willis, et al. v. Buffalo Pumps Inc., et al., No. 12-00744 (S.D. Calif.).

Document is Available Call (800) 496-4319 or Search Opinion Ref# ASB-1409-05

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