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Honeywell legacy subsidiaries obtain dismissal of lawsuit alleging defectively designed products

January 2015

On January 8, Jones Day obtained a compelling victory in a New York appellate court for Jones Day clients Willson Safety Products; Bacou-Dalloz Safety, Inc.; Bacou-Dalloz USA Safety, Inc.; and Dalloz Safety, Inc. (all owned by Honeywell International). The multi-count wrongful death complaint alleged, among other things, that respirators manufactured by Honeywell legacy subsidiaries were defective in design and did not adequately warn or protect users, including the decedent, from asbestos-related diseases.

After discovery was closed, the Jones Day team convinced the lower court to grant our clients summary judgment on all claims but one claim. The lower court, however, refused to dismiss a failure to warn claim, which led to the appeal.

On appeal, the New York Court of Appeals (First Department) unanimously reversed and ordered the case dismissed as to all of the Honeywell entities. The panel held that Defendants had established prima facie at the summary judgment stage that its respirators were without defect, and further, that Plaintiff failed to identify any defect in the respirators that caused her Decedent's asbestos related injury. Notably for the asbestos bar, the Court also confirmed Defendants' argument that the complaint's failure to warn allegations failed to conform to required pleading standards.

The Appellate Division's decision is a serious blow to recent efforts by the plaintiffs' bar to expand asbestos liability beyond asbestos manufacturers to a broader category of defendants, including respirator manufacturers, who produce products used in the asbestos work place. The decision is binding on courts in New York City, which has one of the largest asbestos dockets in the country.

The team consisted of Dana Baiocco (Boston) (who argued the appeal) and Jason Weida (Boston) with assistance from Lee Pollack and Max Guindo (New York).

Wiacek, Marian v. 3M Company, et al., No. 190096/2012 (N.Y.)

For additional information about this matter, please contact: Dana Baiocco

Client(s): Willson Safety Products; Bacou-Dalloz Safety, Inc.; Bacou-Dalloz USA Safety, Inc.; and Dalloz Safety, Inc.
Office(s): Boston, New York