Auto Parts Company’s Bid to Avoid Mesothelioma Claim Denied

Frank Labarre died of malignant mesothelioma after decades of working in the automobile repair industry. Over the years he worked as a tire repairman, a salesman, and even owned his own shop, Fleet Tire Service. When he was diagnosed with the deadly illness he filed suit against multiple defendants, including the companies that manufactured and sold him asbestos-contaminated brakes without warning him of their dangers. One company, Bienville Auto Parts, Inc., tried to evade responsibility by arguing that they were only a vendor, and not responsible for the brakes’ dangers.

Brake repair

Daughter Continues Claim after Father’s Mesothelioma Death

Though the original mesothelioma claim against Bienville was filed by Frank, his wife Barbara, and his daughter, both Frank and Barbara died, leaving Karen Labarre Birdsall to pursue justice on her father’s behalf. She argued that even though Bienville had not manufactured the brakes, they were “professional vendors of asbestos-containing products” and “knew or should have known of the defects of the asbestos products they sold, and negligently failed to warn the users of potential health hazards from the use of said products.”

Bienville asked for the case against them to be dismissed. They argued that they’d never put their name on the products or modified them, and that they were not in control of the brakes’ quality. They said that they had no duty to warn, and further that Mr. Labarre was a “sophisticated user” of the brake products and should have known of their dangers.

Judge Rules Against Brake Company in Mesothelioma Case

In ruling on the motion for summary judgment, the judge denied the company’s argument that Mr. Labarre’s exposure to asbestos in their products was too trivial to have contributed to his mesothelioma. He also pointed out that under Louisiana law “a seller of a product can be held strictly liable as a manufacturer if the plaintiff proves that the seller qualifies as a “professional vendor.” He also noted that Bienville had their own employees wear masks when working with the asbestos-contaminated products. He said that this provided some evidence that the company knew or should have known that the products contained asbestos and that asbestos was dangerous, and allowed the case to move forward.

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger


Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.

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