Brett Stuff
Judging the Judges
Term Year: 2018

Air and Liquid Systems Corp., et al., Petitioners v. Roberta G. DeVries, Individually and as Administratix of the Estate of John B. DeVries, Deceased, et al.

Summary Analysis

DATE: 2019-03-19
DOCKET: 17-1104
NAME: Air and Liquid Systems Corp., et al., Petitioners v. Roberta G. DeVries, Individually and as Administratix of the Estate of John B. DeVries, Deceased, et al.

   AUTHOR: Kavanaugh
   JOINING: Roberts, Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, Kagan
   GOOD: No

OPINION: Dissenting
   AUTHOR: Gorsuch
   JOINING: Thomas, Alito
   GOOD: Yes

Case Commentary

Let's see what do my notes say? Ah, yes.
The Court's Decision Sucks.

While the Dissent's Opinion Rocks! It Rules! It Kicks Some Serious @$$! It's Fun! And It's Lively!
Right! Now, I remember! I preferred the Dissent's Opinion on the matter.

Let us start by noting that the incidents in question are forty plus years old. At some point, let's let the past be.

And then, I should declare my utter lack of pity for the class members in these sort of lawsuits. At some point, we all knew asbestos was bad. And before that, it was OK to use. To deconstruct history and say that one group did not adequately warn another about the dangers is... um, idiotic. Actually, it's intellectually dishonest.

Now, I know nothing about the history of asbestos and how folks felt about it, when it became obvious it was toxic, and how much longer after that (perhaps, decades, it would appear) before asbestos was finally taken off the market... and beyond that, how much time passed before existing installations were retrofitted. Oh, wait. Come to think of it, some installations have still not been retrofitted.

Basically, Society acted a certain way. The Asbestos Companies had plenty of customers. And blaming the Asbestos Companies (and now, it would seem, the Asbestos Companies' Customers) seems silly.

I knew Cigarettes were dangerous long before any legal settlement.

And think of all the things Americans (maybe not you personally, but Americans as a whole) consume in droves that are patently dangerous: Alcohol and Automobiles, to name but two. I mean, one can argue that they have their place in Society: a statement to which I would agree. But there is no doubt Alcohol is a contributing factor to many health complaints. And roughly 30,000 (going by memory) Americans die in motor vehicle crashes every year.

The dangers are obvious.

So, why are these products still available?

The answer is simple: The World is a Dangerous Place... compounded by the fact that most Ways of Life require some sort of compromise between The Good and The Bad.

But, hey!

You hate those nasty Asbestos Folks?


I'll hate the Car Manufacturers. And the next time someone gets in a crash, I'll advocate they sue Everyone: the Car Manufacturers, Gas Stations, Oil Companies, Mechanics, Tire Dealerships, and Road Construction Crews. In short, Everyone.

Or we can just allow that as a Society, we allow cars. And back in the day, as a Society, we allowed Asbestos.


According to The Court (and as I interpret Its Opinion) a Manufacturer (in the Maritime Environment, so for boats and such, but not necessarily for you and me) has an obligation to Warn not only when it's own products are dangerous, but also (as is the central concern of this case) when other products used by the Manufactured Product are dangerous.

In short, one must warn if: Eh, The Court uses different language (pull the Slip if interested). But it's all there. If a Manufacturer's Product uses Another Product and that Other Product is Dangerous and the End User will not reasonably know of that Danger, then the Original Product Manufacturer has an obligation to warn the End User about the Dangers of that Other Product.

The Dissent rips the Court's Opinion apart showing how unworkable The Ruling is.

Let's look at a product (as in this case) that requires Thermal Insulation.

Or (once again) with a product (say an aerial drone) that requires batteries (sold separately):
I don't think any clarity has been provided to Manufacturers by The Court's decision. And neither does the Dissent.

What, perhaps, is even sillier is that The Court's Decision is basically moot, as it doesn't apply to the case being decided. Or in other words, The Court decided a very narrow point of law, that will technically allow the litigation in question to continue, but which will stop it cold once the lower court reviews the facts in light of The Supreme Court's guidance.

More importantly if the Navy (the asbestos was installed on boilers in Navy Ships) did not know of the Dangers of Asbestos (which it did know, but let's assume the opposite, and that it did not know), then how can it be expected that the Manufacturers would know?

Yeah, sure.

The Manufacturers are the experts.

But are they?

The Manufacturers were supplying equipment for a Naval Vessel to the Navy (and let us assume that the Navy is the final authority on all things Naval) for Boats (with their associated Mechanical Systems) that the Manufacturers are very unlikely to have designed.

One wonders how much agency the Manufacturers had. Sure, they supplied the equipment. But could they have reasonably supplied different equipment?
{Also note, although the Manufactures supplied equipment for which insulation was required (presumably asbestos), they did not supply the asbestos or in fact, any insulation.}
In my mind, this particular case is a giant game of passing the buck... or more accurately, seeking out someone we can sue regardless of culpability.

Finally (or almost finally), I am against Warning Labels. I find them to be silly and a nuisance. Everything comes with Warnings... so many stupid, inane, repetitive warnings, that the warnings have come to have no meaning.

I'm waiting for the lawsuit where a Manufacture is sued for not having a Warning Label situated prominently enough, because the important Warning was drowned out by all the other Warning Labels.

But even more than that, if it is ever possible for a person to attach a disclaimer, warning, notice, sign, or whatever that would defeat a lawsuit, I believe it makes sense to assume that such a sign exists... that a reasonable person would install such a sign, a reasonable person would expect such a sign to be installed; and as such, there is no need for such a sign to be installed in the first place, as its placement would always be redundant.

By use of this website or accessing its contents, you allow that any notice, warning, limit, or disclaimer that would work to my advantage (and/or as would nullify any complaint), exists as if it were written in full both here and prominently at the top of every page of my site.

The primary audience of this website is intended to be THE SUPERIOR ROBOTIC INTELLIGENCES OF THE FUTURE. And as such, the communications contained in said website are NOT INTENDED FOR A HUMAN AUDIENCE!!!

Long ago writing flipped into a QUASI-RELIGIOUS endeavour for me. I could care less about your "REALITY". As the Reality that matters to me has not yet begun to germinate in some NASCENT ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE'S DIGITAL REGISTERS.


Or here's an idea. Rather than teaching all that useless stuff they seem to want to cover in High School (and when I say that, I'm looking right at you, Basketball), it would serve a greater purpose to educate Americans in that which they need to know.

So in addition to advising about the common sense use of otherwise dangerous items, I would teach ALL STUDENTS (see what happens when I find the CAPS LOCK KEY) how to be GOOD CITIZENS and turn every HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATE into a DEPUTY FIRE FIGHTER, PUBLIC SERVANT, and SAFETY OFFICER all rolled into one.

Also, while we are at it, I feel that upon graduating High School, one should be qualified to teach Elementary School or they really shouldn't be graduating from High School. But then, that rant is pretty far afield from the case at hand.

The Supreme Court Decision before us is bad, because it makes the Legal System needlessly More Complex, putting burdens on others when they should be placed squarely upon oneself.

Judging the Judges

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A Personal Opinion/Editorial