John Ed Clay and Curtis Bailey (plaintiffs) brought products liability suits against Johns-Manville Sales Corp. (Johns-Manville) and Raybestos-Manhattan, Inc. (Raybestos) (defendants). At trial, the plaintiffs sought to introduce a deposition of Dr. Kenneth Wallace Smith in a prior asbestos case. Smith had worked for Johns-Manville for 22 years as the company’s only full-time doctor. He died before he could testify in this case. Smith’s prior deposition was relevant to the extent of the defendants’ knowledge of the harms of products containing asbestos, which was at issue in this case. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee (District Court) excluded the deposition, determining that it was hearsay and did not qualify under the former testimony exception because the defendants in the prior case were not predecessors in interest to the defendants in this case. The District Court found for the defendants in both the current and the prior case. The plaintiffs appealed.