Court denies Motion for Summary Judgment in asbestos claim against Ford Motor Co.

By Chandra Lye | Feb 4, 2019

NEW ORLEANS -- A Louisiana court has declined a Motion for Summary Judgment in a case that accuses the Ford Motor Co. of being complicit in exposing a former employee to asbestos.

Victor Michel filed a complaint claiming he was exposed to asbestos during his work as a mechanic and generator service technician. The action was filed in July 2017 after he was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma, alleging “defendants failed to warn him of the hazards of their products, failed to adopt proper safety policies and procedures, failed to provide Michel with a safe work environment, and failed to follow applicable governmental regulations regulating exposure to asbestos.”

Michel died on June 12, 2018 and his survivors were named by the court as the new plaintiffs in the case.

“Whether Michel’s exposure to asbestos from Cummins or Onan products substantially contributed to his mesothelioma raises a material issue of fact that precludes summary judgment,” Judge Sarah Vance wrote in the court decision. “Defendants have now filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis that plaintiffs cannot show that their products substantially contributed to Michel’s mesothelioma." 


Defendants also move to exclude plaintiffs’ experts Dr. Brody, Dr. Castleman, Dr. Staggs, Dr. Finkelstein, and Mr. Depasquale. However, the court finds their opinions as admissible. 

“Michel testified to servicing automotive brakes on mostly Ford trucks during his time at Gulf Bottlers and Crescent Ford, and he testified to replacing gaskets on Cummins and Onan engines during his time at Menge Pump,” the court decision stated. “Dr. Finkelstein and Depasquale opine that these activities would have exposed Michel to significant amounts of asbestos. The premise of defendants’ argument for summary judgment having failed, the Court denies defendants’ motion for summary judgment."

Plaintiffs will present expert testimony that Michel’s work with gaskets, much of which involved Cummins and Onan products, exposed him to asbestos. 

"This evidence is sufficient to create a material factual dispute as to whether Michel was exposed to asbestos from Cummins and Onan products,” the court document stated. 

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