Plaintiffs v. Cement Manufacturer
Sedgwick obtained summary judgment on behalf of our client, a major multinational cement and aggregate manufacturer based in Switzerland. Nine plaintiffs brought separate actions in the Superior Court of New Jersey, alleging that they or their decedents had been exposed to asbestos at a plant in New Jersey between 1941 and 1980. The plaintiffs contended that our client was the successor via merger to a company that purportedly had roots in the European asbestos business, dating back to 1923. Sedgwick moved to dismiss the case for lack of personal jurisdiction over our Swiss client, and for failure to state a claim. We supported the motions with evidence outside the record, so that they were to be treated as motions for summary judgment under the applicable New Jersey rules. The plaintiffs responded with extensive documentation of our client’s alleged predecessor’s European asbestos business. Following oral arguments, the court found that although the plaintiffs had presented evidence that the alleged predecessor had in fact manufactured asbestos products, they failed to show that the alleged predecessor was in the business of selling raw asbestos that could have reached the New Jersey plant at issue. The court rendered summary judgment on all complaints without reaching the question of personal jurisdiction, and the plaintiffs did not appeal.