In Dugas v. 3M Company, a man filed a lawsuit in Florida against several companies over his alleged exposure to asbestos fibers while serving in the United States Navy. In his complaint, the man claimed he developed fatal mesothelioma as a result of this exposure to the dangerous product. In addition, the man alleged that each of the defendant companies or their predecessors processed, manufactured, mined, distributed, or otherwise supplied asbestos fibers to the Navy. In response to the negligence, strict liability, fraudulent concealment, and loss of consortium lawsuit, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss the case for failure to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.
First, the Middle District of Florida examined the defendants’ claims that the lawsuit should be dismissed because the man failed to comply with the requirements enumerated in Section 774.205 of the Florida Statutes. According to the court, Florida substantive law and federal procedural law applied to the case because it was removed to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1442. After examining the complaint, the court said Section 774.205 conflicted with the notice requirements included in Rule 8 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As a result, the federal court stated Florida’s heightened notice standard for asbestos cases was required to yield to the federal pleading requirements.
Next, the Middle District of Florida turned to the man’s negligence and his wife’s loss of consortium claims. The court stated a negligence claim in Florida must allege duty, breach, causation, and damages. After examining the facts alleged in the pleadings, the court held that the plaintiff’s negligence cause of action was viable and should not be dismissed. Similarly, the federal court held that his spouse’s loss of consortium claim survived the defendants’ motion to dismiss as well.
The court then examined the man’s strict liability cause of action. The court held that the plaintiff sufficiently described the purported defect in the product and alleged the product at issue injured him while being used as intended. The court also said the plaintiff adequately described the defendants’ supposed failure to warn him of the known or foreseeable hazards associated with the asbestos.
After that, the federal court said a claim for fraudulent concealment is held to the same standard as one for fraudulent misrepresentation in Florida. In order to plead such a case, a plaintiff must allege the truth or a material fact was suppressed, the defendant had knowledge of or should have known about the purported misrepresentation, the defendant intended for the plaintiff to act on the misrepresentation, and a party who reasonably relied on the misrepresentation was injured as a result of his or her reliance. In addition, the court said such a claim is subject to the heightened pleading standard set forth in Rule 9(b). Since the man met this standard with regard to one defendant, the federal court declined to dismiss his fraudulent concealment claim against the company. Despite this, the court dismissed the man’s fraudulent concealment cause of action against the remaining defendants because his complaint failed to plead the alleged fraudulent conduct with enough specificity.
The Middle District of Florida then dismissed the defendants’ claim that they had no duty to disclose the purported hazards to the plaintiff by stating the companies owed the man a duty of reasonable care to disclose foreseeable risks associated with the allegedly dangerous products, since he was the ultimate user.
If you were injured by a dangerous product in Miami, you should have an experienced personal injury attorney on your side. To discuss your right to recover financial compensation for your harm with a knowledgeable South Florida defective products lawyer today, do not hesitate to give the seasoned advocates at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. a call at (305) 448-8585 or contact us online.
Dugas v. 3M Company, Dist. Court, MD Florida 2015
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