Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff, Banjamin Campolongo, sought compensatory and punitive damages for asbestos exposure. Defendant, Celotex Corporation, moved for a severance of the strict liability from the negligence claims.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. Rule 42(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allows for a court to separate claims to avoid prejudicial information allowable for one purpose to taint the jury when considering other claims.
However, a major concern of strict liability is the conclusion that if a product was in fact defective, the distributor of the product should compensate its victims for the misfortune that it inflicted on them.View Full Point of Law
Issue. The issue is whether Defendant’s motion for severance should be granted.
Held. The court allowed the severance on the condition that the conduct of none of the parties was raised in the strict liability claim. The court uses Rule 42(b) which allows the severance of claims to avoid prejudice. The jury may be prejudiced by Defendant’s conduct and therefore could not fairly decide the merits of the strict liability. But Defendant could not raise Plaintiff’s conduct or his employer’s conduct as an affirmative defense to the strict liability claim; but they could still cite the conduct of co-defendants.
Discussion. The court has stripped the case down to be a trial concerning solely whether Defendant is liable under strict liability without consideration of any party’s conduct.