Heather Isringhausen Gvillo Mar. 9, 2015, 4:35pm

A federal judge has denied dismissal of an asbestos lawsuit for defendant Crane Co., concluding that the claimant’s list of U.S. Navy ships was sufficient enough to prove exposure to the defendant’s asbestos-containing products while serving as a seaman.

Judge Staci M. Yandle, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois, concluded that plaintiff Van L. Hall provided specific locations, states and time periods in the complaint, which allowed Crane Co. “ample notice in order to build a defense.”

“[A] plaintiff need only state enough facts to state a claim that is plausible on its face. In this particular case, plaintiff has succeeded in doing so,” Yandle stated in her March 5 order.

According to the amended complaint, Hall alleged he developed asbestosis as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products manufactured, sold or distributed by Crane Co. His complaint was removed to federal court in January 2014 from the Madison County Circuit Court by defendant Foster Wheeler.

Hall was employed by the U.S. Navy, where he worked on ships and in shipyards, from 1959 until 1979. He claims he was exposed to asbestos during his service. He alleges four counts against the defendant: negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, negligent spoliation of evidence and willful and wanton spoliation of evidence.

Hall argues that Crane Co. knew or should have known that the asbestos contained in its products were hazardous. He also argues that the defendant failed to exercise ordinary care for his safety and that exposure to the defendant’s products caused his asbestosis.

Crane Co. filed a motion to dismiss on March 25, 2014, arguing that the allegations against it fail to state a cause of action upon which relief could be granted.

“More precisely, defendants argue that plaintiff does not describe his claims in sufficient detail to give the defendant fair notice of the grounds upon which they rest,” the order states.

While Crane Co. recognized that Hall provided a list of ships he worked on, the defendant argued that Hall failed to allege exposure to specific Crane Co. products.

Addressing Counts IV and V regarding spoliation of evidence, Magistrate Judge Donald Wilkerson took the motion to dismiss under advisement at a June 13 hearing, but also determined that the counts would be dismissed in the future.

Because Hall did not address those counts in his June 20 response to the defendant’s motion, Yandle dismissed Counts IV and V and determined that the portion of Crane Co.’s motion directed at spoliation of evidence was deemed moot.

However, in regards to the negligence and willful and wanton misconduct allegations, Yandle denied Crane Co.’s request for dismissal. She determined that Hall provided specific details enabling the defendant to formulate its defense and provide an answer.

Specifically, Hall provided a list detailing which ships he worked on.

Hall alleges the exposure may have occurred between 1959 and 1977 while the plaintiff was on the USS Denebola AF-56 from 1959-61, the USS Cadmus AR-14 in 1961, the USS Mauna Loa AE-8 from 1961-62, the USS Edmonds DE-406 in 1963, the USS Enterprise CVA(B)-65 from 1964-68, the USS Truxton CVAN-35 from 1970-73, the USS Milwaukee AOR-2 from 1973-77 or while working in various Naval shipyards when in port.

Ben A. Vinson Jr. of Cagle Law Firm, LLC, in Tampa, Fla., represents Hall.

Benjamin Wilson of HeplerBroom LLC in Edwardsville represents Crane Co.

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