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Smith v. Advanced Auto Parts Inc.

Superior Court of Delaware, New Castle

January 24, 2014

CARLTON L. SMITH and LUCILLE SMITH, Plaintiffs,
v.
ADVANCED AUTO PARTS, INC., et al., Defendants.

Submitted: July 8, 2013

Upon Defendant Western Auto Supply Company's Motion for Summary Judgment GRANTED

Kara Hager, Esquire, Napoli Bern Ripka Shkolnik LLP, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Plaintiffs Carlton L. Smith and Lucille Smith.

Peter J. Faben, Esquire, Wilbraham, Lawler & Buba, Wilmington, Delaware, Attorney for Defendant Western Auto Supply Company.

TRIAL BY JURY OF TWELVE DEMANDED

ERIC M. DAVIS JUDGE

Introduction

This is a products liability action brought by Plaintiffs Carlton and Lucille Smith against multiple defendants including Defendant Western Auto Supply Company ("Western Auto"). The Complaint contends that Mr. Smith was exposed to asbestos-containing automotive parts including engines, gaskets, brakes and/or clutches while performing shadetree automotive work from 1966 to 2006. Western Auto is an automotive parts retailer. The Smiths allege that Mr. Smith was exposed to asbestos-containing products that he purchased at a Western Auto store while performing personal automotive work and developed lung cancer as a result of this exposure.

Unrelated to the claims against Western Auto, the Complaint also alleges occupational exposure while Mr. Smith was working as welder for Bakers Equipment from 1966 to 1968, as a laborer for Shipment Rittmen from 1968 to 1970 and as a welder for Stanley Smith & Sons from 1970 to 1995. For the reasons stated in this Opinion, Defendant Western Auto's Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED.

Procedural Background

Mr. and Ms. Smith filed the Complaint on June 6, 2013. Western Auto filed its response on April 9, 2013. On April 11, 2013, this Court determined that the South Carolina substantive law governed this case. Western Auto filed their Motion for Summary Judgment on June 3, 2013. The Smiths filed a Brief in Opposition to the Motion on June, 24, 2013. Western Auto filed a Reply Brief supporting its Motion on July, 8 2013.

The Motion was scheduled to be heard on October 22, 2013; however, the parties agreed to have the Motion rescheduled due to an overabundance of asbestos motions to be heard on that date. The Court heard oral arguments on the Motion on October 29, 2013. At the conclusion of the hearing on the Motion, the Court took the matter under advisement.

Factual Background

In a deposition taken on October 3, 2012, Mr. Smith stated that he purchased automotive parts at a Western Auto store.[1] After explaining that the brands of brakes he would install were "[p]robably Bosch and Bendix, "[2] Mr. Smith stated that he would usually get them at NAPA or Western Auto.[3] Then, after discussing that he worked with Mr. Gasket and Victor gaskets, Mr. Smith testified that he would buy those gaskets from "Standard Parts and Western Auto."[4]

Mr. Smith also mentioned a number of other automotive part stores in his deposition. In fact, at numerous points in his deposition Mr. Smith was asked to name all of the automotive parts stores he ...


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