The bare metal defense essentially protects a manufacturer from liability for harm caused by asbestos products that the manufacturer did not manufacture or distribute, but rather, were installed by others post-sale, and owes no duty to warn of the dangers inherent to those products. Most commonly, the bare metal defense rejects liability for after applied external materials, such as thermal insulation or flange gaskets, placed on metal products by someone other than the defendant manufacturer.

In Connecticut, higher courts have yet to embrace the bare metal defense however the state Superior Court has acceptedthe defense under certain circumstances. Judge Barbara Bellis, the presiding judge of the Connecticut asbestos docket in Bridgeport, granted summary judgment to both Black & Decker and Snap-on Incorporated, defendants who asserted the defense, in the matter of Abate v. AFF-McQuay, Inc., et al., Docket No. CV-10-6006228. Black & Decker manufactured grinding machines and a shop vacuum.  Snap-on manufactured, distributed and sold blow guns. None of these products contained asbestos, but Plaintiffs argued that when the products were used for their intended purposes, they emitted hazardous amounts of asbestos dust into the air exposing Plaintiff-Decedent to this asbestos dust in his automotive garage. Defendants both countered that their products were all-purpose in nature,non-asbestos containing and had a variety of uses. Judge Bellis found that, unlike some products, Defendants’ productswere "not specifically designed for a use that would lead to asbestos exposure when said products were used as intended." Thus, the judge ruled that Defendants had no duty to warn.  Yet, she noted that a manufacturer isnot relieved of its duty to warn if its product, when used as intended, inevitably produces harmful dust (e.g.; brakeshoe grinding machines).

Although Connecticut’s application of the bare metal defense is narrow, it provides some Connecticut defendants with protection from liability.  As the defense is tested further in this jurisdiction, we will provide relevant updates.