Air And Liquid Systems Corp. v. Devries

139 S.Ct. 986 (2019)


The U. S. S. Wanamassa, U. S. S. Commodore, and the U. S. S. Turner were outfitted with pumps, blowers, and turbines. The equipment required asbestos insulation or asbestos parts in order to function as intended. With the asbestos, the equipment was known to be dangerous from the inhaled or ingested asbestos fibers. Five businesses (Ds)-Air and Liquid Systems, CBS, Foster Wheeler, Ingersoll Rand, and General Electric-produced some of the equipment that was used on the ships. They did not always incorporate the asbestos into their products. The equipment was delivered in a condition known as “bare-metal.” In those situations, the Navy later added the asbestos to the equipment. McAfee and DeVries (Ps) allege that their exposure to the asbestos-caused them to develop cancer. Ps sued the equipment manufacturers. Ps could not recover much from the manufacturers of the asbestos insulation and asbestos parts because those manufacturers had gone bankrupt. Ps claimed that the bare equipment manufacturers negligently failed to warn them of the dangers of asbestos in the integrated products. Ds moved for summary judgment on the ground that manufacturers should not be liable for harms caused by later-added third-party parts. That defense is known as the “bare-metal defense.” The District Court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals vacated and remanded holding that “a manufacturer of a bare-metal product may be held liable for a plaintiff’s injuries suffered from later-added asbestos-containing materials” if the manufacturer could foresee that the product would be used with the later-added asbestos-containing materials. The Supreme Court granted certiorari.