News and Events Involving Environmental Law, Published by Chicago Environmental Attorney Dave Scriven-Young
of Peckar & Abramson, P.C. -- (312) 239-9722

IL Federal Court Dismisses Asbestos Complaint For Lack of Product Identification

On June 7, 2011, the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois issued an opinion granting a motion to dismiss in Bulanda v. A.W. Chesterton Co., Case No. 11 C 1682, which dealt with a negligence and wrongful-death action against a number of corporations, which included defendant Greene, Tweed, & Company. Plaintiff contended that defendants negligently caused Decedent to work with, and be exposed to, asbestos through their products and premises. She alleged that Greene is liable for negligence under a products-liability theory and for wrongful death.

Greene filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that the complaint did not give rise to a plausible right to relief because it “fails [to] identify any specific Greene Tweed & Co. product(s) to which Plaintiff was allegedly exposed[.]” Greene further argued that, because the Complaint fails to explain how Defendant’s products contributed to, or caused, Decedent’s injuries and subsequent death, it does not state a products-liability claim under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8.

The Court agreed and granted the motion to dismiss:

“The Complaint is devoid of factual allegations regarding Greene’s conduct, which allegedly renders the company liable for negligence and wrongful death. Other than in the first paragraph, where it lists all of the Defendants by name, the Complaint makes no distinct reference to Greene. Instead, it makes a number of generic allegations as to the Defendants collectively. Those allegations that do exist are either legal conclusions or recitations of the elements of the relevant cause of action. The Complaint makes no reference to the identity of ‘the asbestos products and/or asbestos equipment” that Greene allegedly “sold, manufactured, mined, distributed, packaged, installed, or otherwise placed into commerce[.]’”

The Court dismissed the case against Greene without prejudice, meaning that Plaintiff will have a chance to amend her complaint against Greene to possibly add the additional details that the Court deemed were missing from the initial complaint.

This is an interesting case because of the way the Court used the now-heightened pleading standards in federal court to an asbestos case. Typically, asbestos complaints are devoid of the kind of information that the Court held is now required. Perhaps more complaints will be dismissed at the pleading stage instead of requiring parties to pursue discovery and file motions for summary judgment.

Stay tuned to the Illinois Environmental Law Blog for more news and developments. To set up a free initial consultation to discuss your legal matter, please contact Dave Scriven-Young at (312) 239-9722 or dscriven-young@pecklaw.com.





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