Ford Off Hook for Asbestos |Exposure in Ireland

     (CN) – Ford USA is not liable for an Irish employee’s asbestos exposure, which took place before he came to America, New York’s highest court ruled.
     Raymond Finerty claimed that he was exposed to asbestos in the 1970s and 1980 in Ireland, where his job was to replace brakes, clutches and other auto parts.
     He moved to Queens in 1985 and was later diagnosed with mesothelioma.
     Finerty filed a product liability suit in 2010 against Ford’s U.S., U.K. and Ireland branches.
     Ford USA moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the Finerty’s lawsuit was based on events that took place overseas.
     Finerty asserted that Ford USA was “actively involved” in the design and sale of its products and was therefore liable.
     The trial court agreed and refused to dismiss the case. The Manhattan-based First Department New York Appellate Division upheld the decision.
     However, Ford USA took the case to the New York Court of Appeals, which overturned the lower court rulings in a decision written by Justice Eugene Pigott.
     He noted Finerty’s argument that Ford USA played a “direct role” in the design and marketing of the asbestos-containing parts.
     “The record evidence demonstrates, however, that it was Ford UK, not Ford USA, that manufactured and distributed the tractor and vehicle parts,” Pigott wrote.
     He added that Ford’s exercise of control over its trademark was “of no moment.”
     “Ford USA, as the parent corporation of Ford UK, may not be held derivatively liable to plaintiff under a theory of strict products liability unless Ford USA disregarded the separate identity of Ford UK and involved itself directly in that entity’s affairs such that the corporate veil could be pierced,” Pigott stated.

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