Maryland Court of Appeals

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Highest court in Maryland rules steam pump manufacturer has duty to warn of asbestos-containing parts

December 18, 2015

Reversing a lower court’s summary judgment decision, the Court of Appeals for Maryland held that a pump-maker had a duty to warn regarding asbestos gaskets and packing made or sold by third parties. As the Chamber explained in its amicus brief, most state courts to have considered whether to expand liability in such a manner have rejected this theory, making Maryland an outlier jurisdiction.

U.S. Chamber files amicus brief

June 04, 2015

The U.S. Chamber joined several groups in urging the Maryland Court of Appeals to uphold a lower court decision that determined manufacturers do not have a duty to warn with respect to asbestos-containing products manufactured, supplied, or placed in the stream of commerce by third-parties. Plaintiffs’ in the case argue that manufacturers that make products in bare metal form should have warned about potential harms from exposure to asbestos-containing external thermal insulation, manufactured and sold by third-parties and attached to the bare metal products post-sale.

In its brief, the Chamber argues that holding manufacturers accountable for products made by others is incompatible with blackletter tort law. It also argues that acceptance of plaintiffs’ theory of liability would further exacerbate the decades-long asbestos litigation and invite a flood of new cases. Additionally, the brief points out that, under plaintiffs’ theory of liability, consumer safety would be undermined by the potential for over-warning and through conflicting information that may be provided by manufacturers of different products.

The US Chamber filed this brief jointly with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, Manufactuerers’ Alliance of Maryland, Coalition for Litigation Justice, Inc., National Association of Manufacturers, American Tort Reform Association, American Insurance Association, Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, and NFIB Small Business Legal Center.

Mark A. Behrens and Christopher E. Appel of Shook, Hardy & Bacon L.L.P. served as co-counsel for the amici with the US Chamber Litigation Center.

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