A California Superior Court judge recently ruled against Akebono’s claim it should not be included within a suit brought by a former technician claiming he contracted cancer from working with asbestos-containing brake and clutch components. The following description of this action was posted on Mesothelioma.net:
Mesothelioma Victim Continues Pursuit of Japanese Auto Brakes Company
When George Sweikhart was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, he filed suit against several companies he accused of negligently exposing him to asbestos. Among these was Akebono Brake Industry Co., Ltd. and its subsidiary, Akebono Brake Corporation (ABC), whose asbestos-contaminated brakes he’d worked with throughout his career. Since being named, the company has made several attempts at being dismissed from his claims. Earlier this month, the Superior Court of California denied their motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction in the state of California.
Brake Company Repeatedly Attempts to Dismiss Mesothelioma Claim
Akebono has repeatedly attempted to have Mr. Sweikhart’s mesothelioma claim against them dismissed. In January a court rejected their argument that, as a Japanese corporation, they could not legally be served with legal documents. After that argument was rejected because the company had established an office in Los Angeles, Akedbono filed a second motion for summary judgment. This time they argued that the court had no jurisdiction over them because they had no meaningful ‘contacts, ties, or relations’ with the state.
The mesothelioma victim’s testimony indicated that he had used Akebono parts on brake and clutch jobs when he worked for a California Datsun/Nissan dealership from 1969 through 1985, and afterward from 1986 to 1997, and again from 1998 to 2000. In its filing, Akebono argued that the California court lacks jurisdiction over them because there was “no evidence to establish that it ever ‘purposefully caused’ or ‘deliberately directed’ its Japanese or United States subsidiaries to engage in contacts with California.” They argued that merely placing a product into the stream of commerce was not sufficient to establish personal jurisdiction.
Court Denies Brake Manufacturer’s Attempt to Evade Mesothelioma Liability
The Superior Court of California denied Akebono’s attempt to evade liability in the mesothelioma claim, noting that the company had sold hundreds of thousands of brake shoes, facings, and other products to a California company called European Parts Exchange. It also pointed to the company having incorporated its subsidiary company, ABC, in 1980 and registering its brakes with the state of California to comply with the state’s regulations. Akebono had removed materials, ridding them of copper to remain in compliance.
In permitting the case to move forward, the court said the mesothelioma victim had produced “sufficient evidence that Akebono purposefully availed itself of forum benefits in California at the time George Sweikhart testified he was using Akebono parts in California” and that the evidence showed he had used those parts, that they’d exposed him to asbestos, and that they’d caused his illness. The case will move forward for a jury to hear.