MG+M Partner Jeanette Riggins Wins Motion For Summary Judgment in New Orleans Asbestos Suit

MG+M Partner Jeanette Riggins Wins Motion For Summary Judgment in New Orleans Asbestos Suit
August 3, 2016

MG+M partner Jeanette Riggins recently won a motion for summary judgment on behalf of a mechanical contractor client in an Orleans Parish, Louisiana asbestos lung cancer lawsuit. The case was pending before the Honorable Judge Kern Reese. Plaintiff in the case was represented by the law firm of Martzell, Bickford & Centola.

Plaintiff’s counsel alleged that Plaintiff had been exposed to asbestos from various products as a result of working around pipefitters employed by the Defendant contractor.

At the close of discovery, Ms. Riggins moved for summary judgment on behalf of her client. Ms. Riggins outlined for the Court that summary judgment was warranted, because Defendant contractor’s work at Plaintiff’s worksite involved only the installation of new piping. Importantly, Plaintiff admitted at his deposition that he did not know if the Defendant engaged in any activity that exposed him to asbestos and further acknowledged that he was only “guessing” as to whether Defendant contractor was even at the specific worksite where he claimed asbestos exposure. Finally, Ms. Riggins argued that even if Defendant performed work at the worksite in question during the same time period that Plaintiff worked there, the mere presence of Defendant at the facility was not sufficient evidence to establish that Defendant’s activities exposed Plaintiff to asbestos, and was therefore not sufficient to defeat summary judgment.

In response, Plaintiff’s counsel argued that Defendant contractor was a general contractor to Plaintiff’s employer at many worksites, and thus, this was circumstantial evidence sufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact as to whether Plaintiff was exposed to asbestos while working around Defendant’s employees. More specifically, counsel argued that Plaintiff worked for a company that was often a subcontractor to the Defendant contractor, and that Plaintiff would obviously have worked around Defendant’s employees over the years. Plaintiff counsel also argued that the experts retained by Plaintiffs were going to testify at trial that Plaintiff was substantially exposed to asbestos at one particular site where Defendant contractor performed work.

The Court, after considering the oral argument and briefs of both parties, granted Defendant’s Motion for Summary Judgment, finding that Plaintiff counsel did not present evidence sufficient to establish that he will be able to satisfy his burden of proof at trial that Defendant’s activities were a substantial factor to Plaintiff’s development of lung cancer.

Practices Team
New Orleans
504 535 2880
Jeanette S.