United States District Court, D. Delaware
WILLIAM J. JOHANSEN Plaintiff,
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION et al Defendants.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
R. FALLON UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the court in this asbestos-related personal injury
action is a motion for summary judgment pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 56 filed by Ford Motor Company
("Ford" or "defendant"). (D.I. 145) For
the following reasons, I recommend GRANTING defendant's
motion for summary judgment.
February 15, 2017, William J. Johansen ("Mr.
Johansen" or "plaintiff) originally filed this
personal injury action against multiple defendants in the
Superior Court of Delaware, asserting claims arising from his
alleged harmful exposure to asbestos. (D.I. 1, Ex. 1) On
April 20, 2017, the case was removed to this court by
defendant Crane Co. pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§
1442(a)(1), the federal officer removal statute,
1446. (D.I. 1) On August 1, 2018, Ford filed its pending
motion for summary judgment. (D.I. 145)
Johansen alleges that he developed mesothelioma as a result
of exposure to asbestos-containing materials during his
service as a machinist mate in the United States Navy, his
civilian work as a pipefitter, and his work on cars. (D.I. 1,
Ex. 1 at ¶¶ 3-6) Mr. Johansen contends that he was
injured due to exposure to asbestos-containing products that
Ford manufactured, sold, distributed, licensed, or installed.
(Id. at ¶¶ 4-14) Accordingly, plaintiff
asserts claims for negligence, willful and wanton conduct,
and strict product liability. (Id. at ¶¶
Johansen was deposed on March 14 and 15, 2017. (D.I. 135) He
was deposed again on July 11, 2018. (Id.) Plaintiff
did not produce any other fact or product identification
witnesses for deposition.
Johansen purchased a used 1966 F-150 Ford pickup in the late
1960s and owned it for one year. (D.I. 172, Ex. A at
136:3-12; D.I. 146, Ex. 3 at 230:21-231:1, 231:14-22) He
cannot recall how many miles the vehicle had at the time of
purchase, and does not know its maintenance history. (D.I.
146, Ex. 3 at 231:8-10, 232:4-7) He performed one brake job
on this vehicle. (D.I. 172, Ex. A at 136:13-16) He then
purchased a 1963 F-250 Ford pickup in approximately 1970 that
he owned for sixteen years. (Id. at 136:20-137:1;
Ex. B at 234:23-235:3) He does not recall how many miles the
vehicle had at the time of purchase, and does not know its
maintenance history. (Id., Ex. B at 235:4-6,
236:25-237:3) He estimated that he performed four brake jobs
on this vehicle. (Id., Ex. A at 137:2-13)
Johansen described how, when changing brakes on his Ford
cars, he would remove the wheel, hub, and springs.
(Id. at 137:24-138:3) He would then slide off the
old brake, clean the area, and sand the new brake before
installing the replacement brake. (Id. at 138:4-13,
138:23-139:2) Mr. Johansen testified that he believes he was
exposed to asbestos by sanding the replacement brakes and
inhaling the resulting dust. (Id. at 138:9-22,
139:14-17) He also noted that he was able to identify whether
he was removing and installing Ford brakes because the brakes
were labelled with the name "Ford" or
"FOMC." (Id., Ex. B at 232:12-21, 234:2-7,
237:10-23, 240:2-9) Mr. Johansen could not remember the
packaging for the new brakes. (Id. at 233:16-19) He
could not identify whether the old brakes he removed were
installed as new brakes or remanufactured brakes.
(Id. at 237:24-238:2)
Johansen was diagnosed with mesothelioma in December 2016.
(Id., Ex. A at 145:8-11)