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Kirk v. Schaeffler Group USA, Inc.

ELR Citation: 46 ELR 20014
Nos. 3:13-cv-5032, (W.D. Mo., 01/07/2016) (Kays)

A district court held that an individual may go forward with her toxic tort claims against the successor to a manufacturing company that released trichloroethylene (TCE) into the environment near her childhood home. The plaintiff alleges she was exposed to the TCE, which caused her to develop several serious illnesses, including autoimmune hepatitis. The company and its successor filed motions for summary judgment, but there are issues of material fact with regard to the issue of causation, as well as to whether the defendants had knowledge of, or met, the applicable standard of care. The defendants also argued that the court should grant summary judgment on the "failure to warn" portion of the plaintiff's negligence and strict liability claims, but whether she received adequate warnings of the alleged danger of TCE contamination is a question for the jury. Last, the successor corporation is judicially estopped from denying that it previously merged with the manufacturing company and inherited its liability in the merger. It is therefore liable for any liabilities the company may have in this case.