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Maine Supreme Judicial Court adopts proof standards for product liability

Grant v. Foster Wheeler, LLC, et al. (2016) 2016 ME 85 (Maine Supreme Judicial Court) [published]. Announcing new law in Maine, the court affirmed summary judgment for GMSR’s client Warren Pumps, LLC, and other manufacturers on whose behalf we briefed the key issues. Maine’s highest court set three proof standards, rejecting attempts to evade summary judgment with less precise evidence. First, to make out a prima facie case of asbestos product liability on any theory, plaintiffs “must demonstrate both product nexus, meaning that the plaintiff was exposed to the defendant’s asbestos-containing product, and medical causation, meaning that such exposure was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s injury.” Second, the Court held that product nexus requires proof “not only that the asbestos products were used at the worksite, but that the employee inhaled the asbestos from the defendant’s product.” Third, the Court rejected efforts to hold marine equipment manufacturers liable for harm caused by replacement asbestos-containing parts sold by others that are used with their equipment over time, confining potential liability to cases – in practice, rare — in which plaintiff has evidence of exposure to asbestos contained in defendants’ equipment when first sold.

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