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Case Bulletin – Pennsylvania Superior Court Rules That Lay Witness Co-worker Affidavit is Insufficient to Establish Asbestos Content

In Krauss v. Trane U.S., Inc., the plaintiff-decedent developed an asbestos related disease as a result of his employment as a bricklayer at various facilities.  The trial court granted summary judgment on behalf of some defendants which resulted in an appeal.  The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the trial court and held that an affidavit of a decedent’s former co-worker was insufficient on its own to raise genuine issues of material fact concerning the decedent’s frequent, regular, and proximate exposure to asbestos in products from several manufacturers.

 

The statements contained in the co-worker’s affidavit that certain items contained asbestos were not based on his actual knowledge and observation and did not meet the requirements of Pennsylvania Rules of Evidence 602 and 701.   The statements were speculative and the co-worker did not specify how long the alleged asbestos-containing products were present at each worksite or the decedent’s proximity to them.  In addition, casual or minimal exposure could not establish causation and deposition and interrogatory excerpts suggesting the presence of products that might or might not have contained asbestos during the relevant time periods could not defeat summary judgment.