United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
JULIA C. ALEXANDER, et al., Plaintiff,
HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL, INC., et al., Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
C. NUGENT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant, Honeywell
International, Inc.'s Motion For Summary Judgment Based
on Lack of Product Identification. (ECF #55). Plaintiffs have
filed an Opposition, and Defendant filed a Reply in support
of its motion. (ECF # 59, 62). The issues are now fully
briefed and the motions are ready for disposition.
Julia C. Alexander, was diagnosed with peritoneal
mesothelioma in May of 2016. She alleges that she contracted
this disease through exposure to the asbestos contained in
Bendix brake products which were manufactured by the
Defendant, Honeywell International, Inc.
(“Honeywell”). She contends that she was exposed
to asbestos containing dust when visiting her
boyfriend/fiancé, Mr. Schweinberg, who worked as an
automobile mechanic. Ms. Alexander testified that she visited
him at work approximately two to three times a week, for four
hours each visit, from 1987 through 1991. Throughout this
period, Ms. Alexander alleges that she observed Mr.
Schweinberg performed brake work on a variety of vehicles1 to
3 times a week.
garage where the brake work took place was only large enough
to fit one van at a time. There was no ventilation system in
the garage, and no vacuum system on the grinder. Ms.
Alexander alleges that she was in close proximity to the work
at all times, sitting less than five feet away from Mr.
Schweinberg as he worked. She did not wear any protective
clothing or breathing protection equipment.
working on brakes, Mr. Schweinberg would use a hammer to
loosen dust and dirt, and blow the brakes with compressed air
to clean them off for inspection. When changing brakes he use
a grinder, and an air compressor to prepare the new brakes
for installation. This work created dust with flying
particles that came from the brakes. The dust was further
spread when he would use the air compressor to clean off the
floor after he finished a job.
Alexander could not recall the make and model of any of the
vehicles that Mr. Schweinberg serviced, could not estimate
how many new brakes he installed during that period, and
could not recall any markings or writing on the brakes he
inspected or removed for replacement. She did testify,
however, that Mr. Schweinberg only used Bendix brakes when
working at this location. She was able to describe the Bendix
brake box, and remembered some identifying language on the
boxes. She also identified the Bendix brake box presented at
her deposition as the same box she would see at Mr.
Schweinberg's workplace. The box she identified indicates
that theses Bendix brakes contained asbestos.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c). The burden of showing the absence of any
such “genuine issue” rests with the moving party:
[A] party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial
responsibility of informing the district court of the basis
for its motion, and identifying those portions of ‘the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with affidavits, if any, '
which it believes demonstrates the absence of a genuine issue
of material fact.
Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986)
(citing prior Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)). A fact is
“material” only if its resolution will affect the
outcome of the lawsuit. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Determination
of whether a factual issue is “genuine” requires
consideration of the applicable evidentiary standards. The
court will view the summary judgment motion in the light most
favorable to the party opposing the motion. Matsushita
Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574,
judgment should be granted if a party who bears the burden of
proof at trial does not establish an essential element of
their case. Tolton v. American Biodyne, Inc., 48
F.3d 937, 941 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing
Celotex, 477 U.S. at 322). Accordingly, “[t]he
mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in support of the
plaintiff's position will be insufficient; there must be
evidence on which the jury could reasonably find for the
plaintiff.” Copeland v. Machulis, 57 F.3d 476,
479 (6th Cir. 1995) (citing Anderson, 477
U.S. at 252). Moreover, if the evidence presented is
“merely colorable” and not “significantly
probative, ” the court may decide the legal issue and
grant summary judgment. Anderson, 477 U.S. at 249-50
(citations omitted). In most civil cases involving summary
judgment, the court must decide “whether reasonable
jurors could find by a preponderance of the evidence that the
[non-moving party] is entitled to a verdict.”
Id. at 252. However, if the non-moving party faces a
heightened burden of proof, such as clear and convincing
evidence, it must show that it can produce evidence which, if
believed, will meet the higher standard. Street v. J.C.
Bradford & Co., 886 F.2d 1472, 1479 (6th
the moving party has satisfied its burden of proof, the
burden then shifts to the non-mover. The non-moving party may
not simply rely on its pleadings, but must “produce
evidence that results in a conflict of material fact to be
solved by a jury.” Cox v. Kentucky Dep't of
Transp., 53 F.3d 146, 149 (6th Cir. 1995). A
party asserting that a fact is genuinely disputed must cite
“to particular parts of materials in the record”
or show “that the ...