Tag Archives: LIA

A Father’s Battle

Posted by Sydney Kpundeh.

A disgruntled New Jersey father has brought products liability design defect and failure-to-warn claims against The New Jersey Port Authority Transit Corporation to recover for injuries arising out of a take-home asbestos exposure. The case’s premise surrounds the father’s daughter, who started to exhibit signs of mesothelioma, which he claims were a result of secondary exposure to friable asbestos fibers through direct contact with her father and while washing his asbestos-laden work clothing. The father is an employee of the Port as a train operator, yard operator, and supervisor. His job duties included the repair and maintenance of asbestos-contaminated air brake systems on the Port’s multiple unit locomotives. When his daughter’s symptoms started worsening, he filed a product liability design defect and failure-to-warn case against the Port and various manufacturers of locomotives and locomotive brake shoes. He claimed that his daughter’s injuries could have been caused by her exposure to asbestos dust created when he replaced the brakes on cars he worked on after hours.

When the case was put before the court, all parties moved for summary judgment. The Port’s argument was that federal legislation and court precedent preempted state tort claims related to locomotives. The automobile defendants argued that there was no evidence that the father’s contacts with automotive brake dust were sufficiently frequent, regular, and proximate to establish causation.

The Appellate Division of the Superior Court of New Jersey ruled that the injuries were preempted by the Locomotive Inspection Act (LIA) under the doctrine of field preemption. The court ruled in such direction because they examined a number of previous decisions that had been considered in the scope of the LIA’s preemptive effect and found that the only way to ensure uniformity is that they must rule the same way.

The failure-to-warn claims that the father filed against the various manufacturers and sellers of asbestos-containing automobile brakes were dismissed summarily because there was insufficient evidence of medical causation linking their products to second-hand exposure. “[T]he evidence showed that the father replaced brakes shoes contaminated with asbestos on four occasions over a period of eight years.”

When he was asked about these times, he could not recall the names of the manufacturers of the replaced brake shoes nor could he recount the number of times he installed new brakes manufactured by the named defendants. Therefore, “it was clear that even if the father was exposed to one of each of the automotive defendants’ products over the eight-year period in question, this exposure was so limited that it failed to meet the frequency, regularity, and proximity test that is required for this type of case.” Hence, this is why the case was dismissed.

Sydney is a political science major and legal studies minor at Seton Hall University, Class of 2016. 

Libyan Wealth Fund Seeks Damages in International Court

Posted by Gerald Wrona.

Interesting. That is one word to describe the NY Times report on the pre-trial proceedings of the Libyan Investment Authority’s (LIA) suit against Goldman Sachs (Anderson). Acting as broker-dealer to the sovereign wealth fund, Goldman established a relationship with the fund’s managers in 2007. A year later, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was visiting Moammar Gadhafi in Libya’s capital to devise a “trade and investment agreement . . . which will allow the improvement of the climate for investment.” (Labbott). Shortly after that promising convention between the two political heads, Goldman and the Authority finalized the agreement and the bank sold derivative products totaling $1 billion to the LIA. Then the housing market “opened its mouth” and out came the demon of the subprime mortgage crisis.

Understandably, the LIA felt exploited. They bit the bullet. Their lawyers came to the London High Court armed with notions that those managing the sovereign wealth fund were ineffectual in understanding the investments presented to them by Goldman. To add insult to insult, they further asserted that the fund administrators were altered in their judgment by Goldman representatives’ leadership role in incidents allegedly involving the recreational consumption of alcohol and visits paid to what may have been brothels, or some other manufacturer of night entertainment, though a witness statement does not specify. Considering that it would never have been in Goldman’s interest to spend more time carousing then working on the deal with the authority, it is highly unlikely that the time spent in leisure outweighed the hours dedicated to the investigation of the necessary facts of the deal.

Though it is worth noting that Goldman has already been ousted for luring investors into crummy deals and then betting against those deals to increase revenue. This is how Goldman actually made money off the subprime mortgage crisis (Cohan).

Will evidence be disclosed that suggests Goldman dealt with the LIA in a similar way? It’s impossible to know. I believe the judge will find that the heart of the matter is whether Goldman conducted due diligence in their dealing with the LIA. For that reason, Robert Miles, one of the attorney’s representing Goldman, would do well to look to the Securities Act of 1933 for support. It states: “If a Broker Dealer conducts reasonable due diligence on a security and passes the information on to the buyer before a transaction, the Broker cannot be held liable for non-disclosure of information that was not found during the investigation.”  Securities Act of 1933, SEC §§ 38-1-28 (SEC 1933).

The trial is expected to start next year.

Gerald is a Business Administration and MIT major at Montclair State University, class of 2017.