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Gloria Gail Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp. et al.

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  • Gloria Gail Kurns v. Railroad Friction Products Corp. et al.

    Date Decided: Feb 29th, 2012
    Decided By: Supreme Court (Federal)
    Court: Supreme Court of the United States
    Citation: 2012 WL 631857

    Background:
    In 2007, George Corson ("Corson") and his wife brought statelaw products liability claims for injuries Corson sustained while working fordefendant Railroad Friction Products Corp. ("RFPC"). Corson worked as a welderand machinist for RFCP from 1947 to 1974, where he installed brakeshoes onlocomotives and stripped insulation from locomotive boilers. Many of theproducts Corson worked with contained asbestos fibers, and in 2005, Corson wasdiagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.

    In the complaint, Corson alleged that the equipment heworked with was defectively designed because it contained asbestos, and thatRFCP failed to warn him of the dangers of working with asbestos or properlyinstruct him regarding its safe use. Corson claimed his exposure to asbestoswhile working for RFCP caused him to contract mesothelioma.

    Following the filing of the suit in a Pennsylvania statecourt, Corson passed away and the suit was continued by his wife and the executrixof his estate, plaintiff Gloria Kurns ("Kurns").

    RFCP removed the case to the United States District Courtfor the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and moved for summary judgment. RFCPargued that Kurns' state-law claims were pre-empted by the LocomotiveInspection Act ("LIA"), 49 U.S.C. 20701.The District Court granted RFCP's motion for summary judgment and the ThirdCircuit affirmed. The Supreme Court granted certiorari to determine whetherKurns' state law products liability claims for defective-design and failure-to-warn are pre-empted by the LIA.


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