Ed Slaughter and Lauren Wood Win Dismissal of Mesothelioma Case in Arizona
The Maricopa County Superior Court dismissed all claims against the firm's client, a design engineering company that provided construction services at the Four Corners Power Plant in Farmington, New Mexico. The plaintiff alleged he developed mesothelioma decades after his claimed work with asbestos-containing insulation at the plant. He sued claiming that the design engineering company was responsible for his injuries. HPTY moved for summary judgment arguing that the New Mexico Statute of Repose bars such claims against contractors and design engineers 10 years after substantial completion of their work. The Trial Court agreed and dismissed the claims.
The summary judgment comes on the heels of last year's victory in the Arizona Supreme Court, which resulted in the application of New Mexico law to the case filed in Arizona. The New Mexico Statute of Repose was enacted with the specific aim of protecting contractors and other service providers who retain no interest in or control over the property they are charged with improving. The Arizona decision is particularly important in the latent disease context, where states are split as to whether statutes of repose should operate to foreclose a plaintiff's claims before they accrue. In this case, the Court reached the correct result because control of the facility had been turned over to the Owner of the premises decades before the plaintiff's claim was filed.