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Poole & Shaffery, LLP
Issue 64 | September 2013
Disclaimer: The articles contained herein are intended for general information purposes only. Nothing contained in this document is legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as such.
Poole & Shaffery, LLP Welcomes Hunt C. Braly, Esq. to the Firm

The legal team at Poole & Shaffery, LLP is pleased to announce that we have just welcomed a new partner, Hunt C. Braly, Esq., to the firm. Mr. Braly will be responsible for overseeing our newly established practice areas, which will be focused on land use and governmental affairs, and will be centrally based at our firm's Santa Clarita office location. In the words of John H. Shaffery, the managing partner at our firm, "Mr. Braly is an excellent addition to our firm. He has built an outstanding professional reputation in land use and governmental affairs from Santa Clarita to Sacramento and has achieved significant success on behalf of his clients." From 1983 to 1992, Braly served as Chief of Staff to California State Sen. Ed Davis, R-Santa Clarita, and has practiced law in California since 1993. Braly is a registered lobbyist in Los Angeles County, the City of Santa Clarita and Sacramento

As a part of our firm's efforts to execute a long-range expansion plan, Mr. Braly will now enable Poole & Shaffery, LLP to provide additional services to existing clients and assist a greater number of California residents with their legal and advocacy needs. For this reason, we could not be more excited to welcome our newest partner to the team. According to Co-Founder David S. Poole, "this is an important step for us as we execute our expansion strategy." In addition to representing cases related to business litigation, business counseling, employment litigation, construction law and commercial litigation, we now welcome the opportunity tackle cases in the field of governmental affairs and land use.

If you are interested in discussing a related case with our newest partner, Hunt C. Braly, Esq., we encourage you to contact our Santa Clarita office today at (888) 595-5963. For further information, you can also reach out to any of the Santa Clarita business lawyers at our firm. We maintain five different offices throughout California—including Los Angeles, Walnut Creek, Santa Clarita, San Francisco and Orange County—so you can trust that we are not far from wherever you are.

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By: Hunt C. Braly
New Study Provides Additional Evidence Regarding Link Between Benzene Exposure and Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma

A recent study has linked an increase in Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma ("NHL") in individuals living near benzene release sights. The study, released on July 29, 2013 in the medical journal Cancer, was performed by individuals in the Department of Epidemiology at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.

In reaching their conclusion, the authors linked and geocoded data on benzene release sites in Georgia from 1988 to 1998. The authors used the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Toxics Release Inventory (TRI), census to tract level population statistics and NHL incidences from the Georgia Comprehensive Cancer Registry (GCCR) from 1999 to 2008. The data indicated that for "every mile the average distance to benzene sites increased, there was an expected 0.31 percent decrease in the risk of NHL" and that "NHL incidence was significantly higher in census tracts that were closer, on average to benzene release sites."

The authors indicated that additional studies are needed from other geographic regions and interactions between benzene and other exposures so that the spatial patterns of NHL incidence can be examined. The authors indicated that future studies should examine the association between the distance to benzene release sites and NHL incidence by using "individual-level geographic data, temporal trends, and dose-response relations between benzene exposure and NHL" since the presence of benzene in the environment is not enough to evaluate how much any one individual was exposed to.

Although exposure to benzene is widely recognized as a cause of leukemia, its connection to NHL is less clear. Epidemiological studies continue to be conducted so that a more definitive conclusion can be made regarding the link between benzene exposure and development of NHL. The evidence continues to grow, but benzene exposure is still not a universally accepted cause of NHL.

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By: Sally Hosn
Not The Original Gasket? Not My Liability!

In a recent opinion, the California Court of Appeals for the Second District granted a gauge manufacturer's summary judgment motion on the basis that a defendant cannot be held liable for products it did not manufacturer or supply. (Lee v. Clark Reliance Corp., No. B241656 (Calif. 2nd Dist. Ct. App., Div. 3).

In Lee v. Clark Reliance Corp., No. B241656 (Calif. 2nd Dist. Ct. App., Div. 3) (Lee), plaintiff alleged that her husband, decedent Richard Lee, developed mesothelioma as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos while serving in the U.S. Navy. Decedent removed and replaced gaskets on boiler sight-glass gauges manufactured by defendant Jerguson Gage & Valve Company ("Jerguson"). Clark Reliance Corporation ("Clark"), as successor-in-interest to Jerguson, filed a summary judgment motion based on lack of exposure and causation.

Clark argued that the Jerguson boiler sight-glass gauges were located in the sight glass outside of the boiler and based upon decedent's testimony, decedent never personally opened the sight glass gauge nor did he see anyone else do so in his presence. The only gaskets decedent testified working with were located outside of the sight glass. Additionally, Clark argued that even if plaintiff worked with the internal gaskets of these gauges, plaintiff's own expert testified that these internal gaskets would have been replaced many times prior to decedent arriving onboard the ship. Plaintiff's expert also testified that these replacement gaskets would have been purchased through a bulk supplier that the U.S. Navy had pre-approved. Therefore, the replacement gaskets were not manufactured by Clark. Accordingly, Clark argued since it was not the manufacturer of the replacement gaskets and there is no evidence that plaintiff worked with or around the internal gaskets, that summary judgment was appropriate. The trial court agreed and granted Clark's summary judgment motion.

Plaintiff's chief complaint on appeal was that since Clark did not produce its person most knowledgeable for a deposition until two days prior to the hearing of the summary judgment motion, the Court should have denied the summary judgment motion. However, the Court of Appeals properly stated that first, plaintiff's counsel did not request a continuance of the hearing of said motion, and second, even if the deposition proceeded in a timely fashion, plaintiff's counsel admitted at the hearing that Clark's person most knowledgeable had no substantive answers since their document retention policy failed to produce any responsive records. As such, the deposition testimony would not have negated Clark's contention that there was no exposure and no causation.

The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court decision and held that Clark was not liable to plaintiff since a "product manufacturer may not be liable in strict liability or negligence for injuries caused by another manufacturer's adjacent product or replacement part used in conjunction with defendants' product. (Lee, supra, at pp. 4917-18 citing Taylor v. Elliott Turbomachinery Co. Inc. (2009) 171 Cal.App.4th 564 (Taylor), and O'Neil v. Crane Co. (2012) 53 Cal.4th. 335 (O'Neil).) Applying, Taylor and O'Neil, the Court indicated that it was undisputed that any asbestos-containing component part associated with the Jerguson boiler sight-glass gauges were replaced by parts manufactured by other companies long before decedent began his service on the U.S. Navy ship. Accordingly, Clark could not be held liable for harm caused by another manufacturer's product.

Although the Lee opinion is unpublished in official reports and may not be cited or relied upon, it remains a useful source for defendant-manufacturers. Taylor and O'Neil, which the Court of Appeals in Lee relied upon, are published opinions which may be relied on by defendants intending to bring motions for summary judgment on the basis of causation in which another manufacturer's product, which was used in conjunction with defendant's product, was actually the cause of a plaintiff's alleged injuries.

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By: Luiza Manuelian