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Boeing Will Defend Asbestos Liability in Federal Court

Dec. 14, 2018, 9:52 PM

The Boeing Co.‘s removal of a mesothelioma case to federal court was valid, even though it didn’t provide evidence supporting its federal contractor defense, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit said Dec. 14.

Boeing needed to provide only short and plausible allegations to support removal, the court said.

The notice of removal laid out enough information to make out a plausible federal contractor defense and therefore trigger federal jurisdiction, it said.

Boeing adequately alleged that it had been both “acting under the United States” as well as “acting under the color of federal authority” when it fulfilled its detailed contract to assemble heavy bombers for the U.S. Air Force, the court said.

And Boeing’s claims that the military had “exclusive control over the design and development of the aircraft and required adherence to precise specifications” establishes a “colorable federal defense” that satisfies Article III jurisdiction over the controversy, the Seventh Circuit said.

Boeing allegedly failed to keep Bruce Betzner safe from asbestos exposure while he assembled the planes at Boeing’s Dallas facilities, the court said.

The case returned to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois for further proceedings.

Perkins Coie LLP and Maron Marvel Bradley Anderson & Tardy LLC represented Boeing. Cooney & Conway represented Betzner.

The case is Betzner v. Boeing Co., 7th Cir., No. 18-2582, 12/14/18.

To contact the reporter on this story: Porter Wells in Washington at pwells@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Jo-el J. Meyer at jmeyer@bloomberglaw.com; Nicholas Datlowe at ndatlowe@bloomberglaw.com

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