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Bowles v. Owens-Illinois, Inc.

Court of Appeals of Illinois

October 11, 2013

Virginia BOWLES, Individually and as Independent Executrix of the Estate of Jerald Bowles, Deceased, Plaintiff-Appellant,
OWENS-ILLINOIS, INC., and John Crane, Inc., Defendants-Appellees, and Pneumo Abex Corporation; Pneumo Abex, LLC; Honeywell International, Inc.; Metropolitan Life Insurance Company; Garlock Sealing Technologies, LLC; Aurora Pump Company; Buffalo Pumps, Inc.; Warren Pumps, Inc.; and Tyco Flow Control Inc., f/k/a Yarway Corporation, Defendants.

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Steve Wood and Andrew Kelly (argued), both of Wylder Corwin Kelly LLP, of Bloomington, for appellant.

Robert H. Riley, Matthew J. Fischer (argued), Neil Lloyd, and

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Stephen Copenhaver, all of Schiff Hardin LLP, of Chicago, for appellee Owens--Illinois, Inc.


TURNER, Justice.

¶ 1 In October 2009, plaintiff, Virginia Bowles, individually and as independent executrix of the estate of Jerald Bowles, deceased, filed suit against Owens-Illinois, Inc. (Owens-Illinois), John Crane, Inc. (John Crane), and other defendants, seeking damages in connection with decedent's lung cancer allegedly caused by his exposure to asbestos and/or asbestos-containing products. In June 2012, the trial court granted motions for summary judgment filed by Owens-Illinois and John Crane.

¶ 2 On appeal, plaintiff argues the trial court erred in granting the motions for summary judgment filed by Owens-Illinois and John Crane on her exposure counts. We affirm.


¶ 4 Decedent, Jerald Bowles, entered the United States Navy at age 17 and served for over 20 years from September 1955 to June 1976. He worked as a radioman on several vessels, including the USS Floyd B. Parks (Parks), where he served from December 4, 1958, to May 27, 1960. The Parks was a Gearing-class destroyer commissioned in 1945 with a personnel capacity of approximately 340. At a length of over 300 feet, the Parks had two fire rooms and two engine rooms. Decedent's duties included encryption, maintenance of classified publications, and radio operations. A radioman would work in " radio central," which was located either on the second or third level not far from the bridge.

¶ 5 Decedent was diagnosed with lung cancer in February 2009. He underwent radiation treatment and chemotherapy but died on August 7, 2009, at the age of 71. He was survived by his wife (plaintiff), two children, and four grandchildren.

¶ 6 In October 2009, plaintiff, individually and as executrix of decedent's estate, filed a complaint against John Crane; Owens-Illinois; Honeywell International, Inc. (Honeywell); and other defendants, to recover for decedent's injuries and death allegedly sustained as a result of exposure to asbestos-containing products. Plaintiff also brought suit against Pneumo Abex Corporation; Pneumo Abex, LLC; Owens-Illinois; Honeywell; and Metropolitan Life Insurance Company under a conspiracy theory.

¶ 7 Deposition testimony included men who served on the Parks. Billy Wright testified he served on the Parks from December 1957 to the " latter part of" 1959. He testified to the piping present on the Parks and stated dust particles would be dispersed when the ship's guns were fired. The pipes had insulation on them but he could not be positive the insulation contained asbestos. He recognized the name " John Crane" from the chemical plant where he worked. If he " had to guess," he would say the pipe insulation was Kaylo. He was not familiar with decedent and had no recollection of decedent being in the engine room.

¶ 8 Bill Revell testified he spent 21 years in the Navy and served on the Parks between 1955 and 1958. He stated pipes ran through the sleeping area. In the galley, the insulation was held on by straps. He remembered calling the insulation " KO." When counsel asked if he meant " Kaylo," Revell stated it " could have been Kaylo or KO." He stated " this Kaylo" was painted on top of metal straps that held the insulation. On further examination by opposing counsel, Revell stated he did not know whether the insulation was KO or Kaylo.

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¶ 9 John Rogers testified he was on the Parks from 1957 to 1960. He talked about replacing insulation during repairs and thought they used Owens-Illinois and Johns Manville. He saw boxes marked Owens-Illinois in the boiler room. He stated some of the men would go to the boiler room to smoke. He also worked with John Crane gaskets and packings on the Parks. He replaced steam line gaskets " quite often" and did valve packings " routinely." The gaskets would be removed using a box end wrench and screwdriver to pry the flanges apart. Steam valve packings were used for the boiler feed, water, and bilge pumps. He used the John Crane packing material " pretty frequently on steam valves." To install the packing, the old packing would be removed with a hook and the new packing inserted. Rogers stated the radio room was on the main deck forward of the aft boiler room.

¶ 10 Salvador Lopez served on the Parks from May/June 1956 until May/June 1960. He stated the piping that ran through the ship was painted white. The insulation ran through the sleeping ...

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