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Hilpert v. Air & Liquid Systems Corp.

Supreme Court, New York County

April 22, 2013

DEBRA A. HILPERT, as Administratrix of the Estate of WILLIAM PISANO Plaintiff,
v.
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORP., et al Defendants. Index No. 190077/11 Motion Seq. 006, 007

Unpublished Opinion

DECISION & ORDER

SHERRY KLEIN HEITLER, JUDGE.

Motion sequence numbers 006 and 007 are consolidated for disposition herein, in which defendants Crane Co. and Crane Pumps & Systems, Inc. (collectively "Crane") move for summary judgment pursuant to CPLR 3212. For the reasons set forth below, the motion is denied.

Plaintiffs decedent William Pisano commenced this action on or about March 1, 2011 to recover for personal injuries allegedly caused by his exposure to asbestos. Mr. Pisano was deposed over the course of six days in May of 2011. Copies of his deposition transcripts are submitted as plaintiffs exhibits 1, 2, and 3. ("Deposition"). Mr. Pisano testified that he served in the United States Navy ("USN") from 1946 to 1948 as a boiler room fireman's apprentice. During this time period he assisted in the overhaul of the USS Compton (DD-705) and USS Purvis (DD-709). Among other things, Mr. Pisano was charged with standing watch in the boiler room, repairing valves, and maintaining equipment.

The defendants argue they are entitled to summary judgment because Mr. Pisano did not specifically identify any product manufactured or sold by Crane as a source of his exposure. In opposition plaintiff submits Mr. Pisano's testimony that he was exposed to asbestos from valves and pipes in the boiler rooms of the USS Compton and USS Purvis as well as archived USN ship records to show that Crane valves were utilized on both these ships in the precise areas where Mr. Pisano worked. Plaintiff thus contends that there is sufficient evidence from which Crane's liability can be reasonably inferred.

Summary judgment is a drastic remedy that must not be granted if there is any doubt about the existence of a triable issue of fact. Tronlone v Lac d 'Andante du Quebec, Llee, 297 A.D.2d 528, 528-529 (1st Dept 2002). To overcome summary judgment in asbestos-related litigation, the plaintiff need only show facts and conditions from which the defendant's liability maybe reasonably inferred. Reid v Georgia Pacific Corp., 212 A.D.2d 462, 463 (1st Dept 1995). All reasonable inferences should be resolved in the plaintiffs favor. Dauman Displays, Inc. v Masturzo, 168 A.D.2d 204, 205 (1st Dept 1990).

In this case, the Mr. Pisano testified with respect to his asbestos exposure while serving in the USN as follows (Deposition pp. 67-69, 71-72):

Q. When you were on the Compton, were you a fireman apprentice?
A. Yes.
Q. The entire period?
A. Yes.
Q. Were you assigned to the boiler room?
A. Yes
Q. What were your duties after you left the Brooklyn Navy Yard ...

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