Ruppel v. CBS Corp., No. 12-2236 (7th Cir. 2012)Annotate this Case
Ruppel sued CBS in Illinois alleging CBS’s predecessor, Westinghouse, caused the mesothelioma from which he suffers. Westinghouse had included asbestos in the turbines it supplied to the U.S. Navy, and Ruppel was allegedly exposed to it during his Naval service and later when he worked on an aircraft carrier as a civilian. CBS removed the case under the federal officer removal statute, which permits removal of certain suits where a defendant that acted under a federal officer has a colorable federal defense, 28 U.S.C. 1442(a)(1). Ruppel moved to remand and, without allowing response, the district court granted the motion. The district court concluded Ruppel only sued CBS for failing to warn about the dangers of asbestos for which there is no federal defense. The Seventh Circuit reversed. CBS’s relationship with Ruppel arises solely out of CBS’s duties to the Navy. It also has a colorable argument for the government contractor defense, which immunizes government contractors when they supply products with specifications approved by the government.