In Pfeifer v. John Crane, Inc., No. B232315 (Cal. Ct. App. Oct. 29, 2013), the defendant asbestos manufacturer challenged a $21 million verdict entered against it.  Defendant argued that the trial court had erred in rejecting its tendered instruction directing the jury to decide whether the plaintiff’s employer, the U.S. Navy, was a sophisticated user knowledgeable in asbestos and, if so, to rule for the defendant.  Because the issue was one of first impression in California, the appellate court surveyed various versions of the sophisticated intermediary defense.  It concluded that under California law, the intermediary’s sophistication is not sufficient as a matter of law to prevent imposing liability on an asbestos manufacturer for failure to warn the intermediary’s employees of the risks of asbestos.  Instead, to avoid liability under California’s sophisticated intermediary doctrine, a defendant manufacturer must prove that the sophisticated intermediary is likely to operate in a manner to protect the plaintiff from the risks of asbestos, or that the plaintiff is likely to learn of the risks of working with asbestos in some other manner.  Because the defendant here presented no such evidence, the appellate court upheld the trial court’s decision not to provide a sophisticated intermediary defense instruction to the jury.