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Foster Wheeler Can’t Sink Ship Worker’s Asbestos Claim

April 4, 2018, 7:03 PM

• Estate of shipyard worker gets green light for asbestos exposure claims against Foster Wheeler • The ships on which he worked were new and the boilers likely contained original asbestos parts

Foster Wheeler LLC failed to shake asbestos exposure claims by the estate of a shipyard worker who allegedly worked in close proximity to the company’s boilers.

Because the ships were new when machinist Robert Hilt worked in the boiler rooms, the estate’s claim that he was exposed to the original asbestos-containing materials in the boilers, rather than third-party replacement parts is reasonable, the court said.

The company argued that the estate failed to show a “regular, frequent or systemic exposure” to its products, and that it can’t be held liable for injuries from component parts manufactured by others—known as the “bare metal defense.”

Hilt worked as a machinist at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco from 1965 until 1972.

An expert witness for the estate testified that two of the ships on which Hilt worked —USS Bradley and USS Constellation—were “relatively new” at the time.

Judge Charles R. Breyer issued the ruling.

Brayton Purcell LLP represents the estate. Hugo Parker, LLP represents Foster Wheeler LLC. The case is Hilt v. Foster Wheeler LLC, 2018 BL 116185, N.D. Cal., No. 11-cv-02367, 4/2/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Peter Hayes in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steven Patrick at