Larry Pugh and Katie Jordan successfully defended an alleged successor to a valve manufacturer in a confirmed mesothelioma case. The decedent was a longtime Navy machinist who alleged exposure to gaskets and packing used in conjunction with the valves. The client was the alleged successor in interest to a valve manufacturer, having entered into an asset purchase agreement with the alleged predecessor company. Plaintiff maintained that Pennsylvania law should apply to the interpretation of the asset purchase agreement, because under Pennsylvania law the “product line exception” would allow the client to be deemed a legal successor, because it continued to sell the ‘same product line” as the predecessor. Under Louisiana law there is no “product line exception.” Instead, in a situation involving an asset purchase agreement, successor liability only exists under narrow exceptions: 1) pursuant to the agreement, the purchaser expressly assumes that liabilities of the seller, 2) the agreement was entered into to defraud the creditors, 3) the purchaser is the same “corporation” (same owners, shareholders, etc.) as the seller.
The federal court judge found that while the contract was executed in Pennsylvania, the decedent spent most of his life in Louisiana, his diagnosis and treatment occurred in Louisiana and suit was filed in Louisiana state court. The Court found that Louisiana’s interest in the dispute was far greater than Pennsylvania’s and, thus, Louisiana law applied. The Motion for Summary Judgment was granted in favor of the client, dismissing all claims.