SAN FRANCISCO – California's Court of Appeal First Appellate District, Division Four, recently concluded that the Alameda County Superior Court did not err in granting a nonsuit in favor of Honeywell International Inc. in a mechanic's asbestos exposure suit.
In his suit against Honeywell, formerly known as Allied Fluid Products Corp., Gerald Hake claimed he was exposed to asbestos from Bendix brakes in Kansas between 1953 and 1962, where he worked at his family-owned service station “after school, on weekends, and during the summer beginning at age 10 until he joined the Navy at age 19.” He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2015.
Alameda County Superior Court granted summary judgment to Honeywell and determined that Hake had not demonstrated that the company’s management "actually knew of and consciously disregarded health risks associated with asbestos in their brake products during the time that plaintiff was exposed to asbestos from defendant’s’ products (1953 to 1962)."
Hake, a resident of Washington state, filed a motion for a new trial, stating that the court “incorrectly applied Kansas law rather than Washington law on issues of noneconomic damages and causation.” Honeywell opposed this motion and argued that Mr. Hake and “presented no new facts or law warranting reconsideration of the court’s choice of law ruling.”
The appeals court, in its Sept. 10 ruling, said, “We conclude Hake has waived the conflict of law issue by failing to raise it properly before the trial court. ... It was incumbent on Hake to request the application of Washington law prior to the court ruling against him on the issue of application of California law.”
According to court documents, “Honeywell is entitled to a judgment of nonsuit because Mr. Hake did not establish that his alleged exposure to asbestos from Bendix products was a substantial factor in causing his mesothelioma as required by the laws of Kansas."
Hake argued that the “trial court erred in applying Kansas law on the issue of causation rather than Washington law, even through Hake requested the court apply California law.” He further argued that the trial court “erred in granting summary adjudication in favor of Honeywell on his claim for punitive damages.”