LIVESTREAMING: Supreme Court Inaugural Live-Stream of Oral Arguments Begins at 8:30 a.m. CDT

May 19, 2020

The Tennessee Supreme Court remains committed to keeping Tennessee courts open while protecting the health and safety of all parties.  Due to the continued concerns regarding COVID-19the cases set for the May 19, 2020 docket will be heard by live-stream video conferencing.  This is one of the many efforts the Court has taken during the COVID-19 pandemic to prioritize the health and well-being of all litigants, attorneys, judges, and employees of the court system. 

The first case will begin at 9:30 a.m. EDT/8:30 a.m. CDT on the TN Courts YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/user/TNCourts. The direct video link is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HtCV71Xq2NU The second case will begin at 11 a.m. EDT/10 a.m. CDT. Each case will have its own link so please check the main TN Courts YouTube page prior to the start of the case.

 

The details of the first case are as follows:

  • Carolyn Coffman et al. v. Armstrong International, Inc. et al.– In this products liability action, Carolyn Coffman, acting as plaintiff on behalf of her husband, alleged that her husband developed mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos when removing insulation, gaskets, and packing from industrial equipment at his workplace.  Ms. Coffman sought to hold the manufacturers of the industrial equipment (“the Equipment Defendants”) liable on the basis that they had a duty to warn of the dangers associated with the asbestos-containing products that were incorporated into their equipment.  The Equipment Defendants filed motions for summary judgment as to the plaintiffs’ claims arising from the post-sale integration of asbestos-containing equipment.  The trial court granted the motions and held that the “bare metal defense,” under principles of federal tort law, relieved the Equipment Defendants of their duty to warn because their pieces of equipment were merely components of the larger system at Mr. Coffman’s workplace.  Additionally, the trial court concluded that the Equipment Defendants did not substantially participate in the integration of their equipment into the employer’s system and their products were not shown to be defective.  The plaintiff appealed, and the Court of Appeals reversed, holding that the “bare metal defense” did not apply and that the defense is inconsistent with binding precedent in Tennessee as stated in Satterfield v. Breeding Insulation Company, 266 S.W.3d 347 (Tenn. 2008).  The Court of Appeals applied the test from Satterfieldand held that the defendants had a duty to warn about the dangers associated with the asbestos-containing products incorporated post-sale even if manufactured by a third party.  On appeal to this Court, the parties have been asked to address the following question in addition to the issues raised in their briefs:  Whether the Court of Appeals erred in holding that the Equipment Defendants had a duty to warn of the dangers associated with the post-sale integration of asbestos-containing materials manufactured and sold by others.