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CIVIL PROCEDURE - KRUSE, ADM'R AD LITEM V. VANDERBILT MINERALS, LLC

Kruse, Adm’r ad litem v. Vanderbilt Minerals, LLC, [Ms. 1121382, Sept. 30, 2015] __ So. 3d __ (Ala. 2015). The Supreme Court reverses a summary judgment for the defendant because the trial court entered summary judgment on a basis not raised in the motion for summary judgment. This was a wrongful-death case based on exposure to asbestos. The proceedings were bifurcated so that “product identification” would be the issue in the first phase and causation would be reserved until a later phase. The defendant moved for summary judgment on the product identification issue, asserting that there was no evidence that plaintiff’s decedent “had ever been exposed to talc supplied by Vanderbilt.” At the hearing on the summary-judgment motion, Vanderbilt argued that its talc did not contain asbestos, and the circuit court, finding that plaintiff had not produced evidence that Vanderbilt’s talc contained asbestos, entered summary judgment on this ground. The Supreme Court reverses on the principle that if a motion for summary judgment does not properly raise the absence of evidence as to a particular element of a claim, no burden shifts to the plaintiff to present substantial evidence as to that element. Cunningham Bounds co-authored an amicus brief for the Alabama Association for Justice on behalf of the plaintiff in support of reversal.

Related Documents: Kruse 9-30-15

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