Air and Liquid Systems Corp. v. DeVries

Summarized by:

  • Court: U.S. Supreme Court Certiorari Granted
  • Area(s) of Law: Admiralty
  • Date Filed: May 14, 2018
  • Case #: 17-1104
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: 873 F.3d 232 (3d Cir. 2017)

Whether products-liability defendants can be held liable under maritime law for injuries caused by products that they did not make, sell, or distribute.

This matter involves two similar cases that have been consolidated by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals after two appeals by each of the Respondents. Respondents sued Petitioners for asbestos exposure occurring when Respondents were working on ships while serving in the Navy. Petitioners were not responsible for making or supplying the parts alleged to be the source of the asbestos exposures. Rather, asbestos itself or asbestos-containing components were added to the parts by a third party. Petitioners were granted summary judgment by the district court originally and again after remand. After Respondents’ second appeal, the Third Circuit reversed, adopting a test relying on foreseeability. Petitioners argue in their brief to the Supreme Court that under the “bare-metal rule,” they are not liable for asbestos related injuries caused by third parties. Petitioners argue that the Third Circuit decision causes a circuit split disrupting uniformity, which is a fabric of maritime law. Furthermore, Petitioners reason that because maritime law does not recognize products-liability theories under which defendants can be liable for injuries caused by third party products, the Third Circuit had no basis for adopting a foreseeability test in products-liability matters. Petitioner contends that the consequences of such a ruling will burden the maritime industry and obstruct predictability.

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