United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
DIANE MACCORMACK, NANCY BROUDY And KAREN LOFTUS, as Special Personal Representatives of BERJ HOVSEPIAN, Deceased, Plaintiffs,
AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, A/K/A BUFFALO PUMPS, INC., et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. Hamilton UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Air & Liquid
Systems Corporation's Motion for Summary Judgment based
on the Doctrine of Collateral Estoppel, filed July 13, 2017.
(ECF No. 372). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
are the special personal representatives of Decedent Berj
Hovsepian (“Hovsepian”). Hovsepian was a civilian
employee of the United States Navy from 1958 until 1964, in
Boston, Massachusetts. He contracted asbestos-related
mesothelioma, allegedly as a result of exposure to products
that were manufactured, sold, distributed or installed by the
Defendants in this case, including Air & Liquid Systems
Corporation, as successor by merger to Buffalo Pumps, Inc.
December 2009, Hovsepian brought an action against Buffalo
and a number of other entities in the Superior Court for the
Commonwealth of Massachusetts. (ECF No. 374-1). As relevant
here, in an amended complaint filed April 11, 2012, Hovsepian
asserted claims of common law negligence, breach of express
and implied warranties, and “malicious, willful, wanton
and reckless conduct or gross negligence.” (ECF No.
374-2, PP. 13-20, 28-29). Buffalo moved for summary judgment in
the Massachusetts action, arguing, among other things, that
Hovsepian and his wife failed to “present evidence that
Berj Hovsepian worked with or around a Buffalo pump”,
“prove that any materials used with a Buffalo pump
actually contained asbestos”, and “prove that any
work with or around a Buffalo pump substantially contributed
to Berj Hovsepian's disease.” (ECF No. 374-3, PP.
1-2). The motion was unopposed, and on August 10, 2012, the
Massachusetts Superior Court granted summary judgment in
favor of Buffalo. (ECF Nos. 374-4, 374-5).
about December 15, 2015, Hovsepian alone initiated an action
in the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Missouri,
naming Buffalo and others as Defendants, and asserting claims
similar to those in the Massachusetts case. (ECF No. 8). The
action was removed to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1442(a)(1) and 1446. (ECF No. 1). Upon
Hovsepian's death, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended
Complaint, proceeding as special personal
representatives. (ECF No. 324).
noted above, Buffalo filed the instant Motion for Summary
Judgment on July 13, 2017, asserting Plaintiffs' claims
against it are barred by the doctrine of collateral
estoppel. (ECF No. 372).
Summary Judgment Standard
Court may grant a motion for summary judgment if, “the
pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and
admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any,
show that there is no genuine issue as to any material fact
and that the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter
of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c); Celotex Corp. v.
Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322 (1986). The substantive law
determines which facts are critical and which are irrelevant.
Only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome will
properly preclude summary judgment. Anderson v. Liberty
Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Summary judgment
is not proper if the evidence is such that a reasonable jury
could return a verdict for the nonmoving party. Id.
moving party always bears the burden of informing the Court
of the basis of its motion. Celotex, 477 U.S. at
323. Once the moving party discharges this burden, the
nonmoving party must set forth specific facts demonstrating
that there is a dispute as to a genuine issue of material
fact, not the “mere existence of some alleged factual
dispute.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(e); Anderson, 477
U.S. at 247. The nonmoving party may not rest upon mere
allegations or denials of its pleadings. Anderson,
477 U.S. at 256.
passing on a motion for summary judgment, the Court must view
the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving party,
and all justifiable inferences are to be drawn in its favor.
Anderson, 477 U.S. at 255. The Court's function
is not to weigh the evidence, but to determine whether there
is a genuine issue for trial. Id. at 249.
judicata encapsulates two preclusion concepts - issue
preclusion and claim preclusion. Lovilia Coal Co. v.
Harvey, 109 F.3d 445, 449 (8th Cir. 1997)
(citing Migra v. Warren City Sch. Dist. Bd. of
Educ., 465 U.S. 75, 77 n. 1 (1984)), cert.
denied, 118 S.Ct. 1385 (1998). Issue preclusion, or
collateral estoppel, means that “‘once a court
has decided an issue of fact or law necessary to its
judgment, ‘the determination is conclusive in a
subsequent action between the parties, whether on the same or
a different claim.'” Id. at 449-50
(quoting Tyus v. Schoemehl, 93 F.3d 449, 453
(8th Cir. 1996) (internal citations omitted)
(abrogated on other grounds)); see also Montana v. United
States, 440 U.S. 147, 153 (1979). The same issues cannot
be re-litigated. Ideker v. PPG Indus., Inc., 788
F.3d 849, 852 (8th Cir. 2015). Collateral estoppel
therefore is critical for judicial efficiency, and for
“promot[ing] the comity between state and federal
courts that has been recognized as a bulwark of ...