Friable Thoughts

Monday, October 05, 2009

Duty to Warn for Component Parts Defense Gets Confusing in California

California law on the subject just got confusing. After the Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co., Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 564 decision, it appeared manufacturers were immune from liability from asbestos containing component parts made by other entities but used in their products. Recently, another California appellate court refused to follow that holding in O'NEIL v. CRANE CO. In both cases, the defendant manufactured pumps and valves as part of ship systems. O'Neil focused on whether the pumps and valves were components of the ship where Taylor focused on whether insulation, replacement gaskets and packing were components in the pumps and valves. To add more to the confusion, the same appellate district that decided O'Neil issued another opinion a week later in MERRILL v. ELLIOTT CO., agreeing with the Taylor decision.

Given a split in authority, one would think the California Supreme Court will review one, if not more of these decisions. Given that the California Supreme Court declined review of Taylor when it came out may indicate how it would rule. But, perhaps the reasoning of O'Neil will persuade them.