A appellate court has breathed new life into a mesothelioma lawsuit asserting wrongful death against a former manufacturer of asbestos-laden products. The lower court ruled there wasn’t enough evidence to reasonably support a theory of causation, but the appellate court disagreed, and granted the plaintiff’s motion to allow the case to go to trial.
Our Greenville injury lawyers know that lawsuits regarding mesothelioma, asbestos, lung cancer and other conditions resulting from exposure to asbestos are highly complex, usually for the simple fact that symptoms of illness do not appear for decades afterward. At that point, proving which entities were responsible for the plaintiff’s exposure – and to what degree – is difficult.
Matters are further complicated first by the fact that patients diagnosed with mesothelioma are up against an aggressive, terminal cancer. Timely consultation with an attorney is critical to ensuring a success in court. It’s worth noting that a fair number of these lawsuits will not reach a conclusion until after the plaintiff’s death. Still, it helps to ensure the victim’s family will be compensated for the sudden, untimely loss of their loved one.
Another factor that tends to make these cases more complex is that so many companies used asbestos in their products throughout the 20th century. Although scientists and doctors agree that no amount of asbestos exposure is safe, courts have long rejected the “any exposure theory.” This is essentially the principle that a person who comes into contact with the substance made by the defendant manufacturer once or just a handful of times could have contracted a serious disease as a result. Even if that’s true, there needs to be some showing of repeated, heavy exposure to the substance at some point in the plaintiff’s life.
Usually, this proof comes in the form of work history, as generally exposure occurred in the course of one’s occupation. Common jobs where workers suffered asbestos exposure include auto manufacturing, shipbuilding, construction, roofing, insulation work and electrical work, though exposure certainly is not confined to these.
In the case of Ganoe v. Metalclad Insulation Corp., the plaintiff worker was employed as a utility worker at a Goodyear tire and rubber plant in California from the late 1960s through 1979.
In the fall of 2010, he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He filed his lawsuit three months later, against a manufacturer he asserted supplied his employer with products containing asbestos. He died will the action was pending, and it was converted to a wrongful death lawsuit.
The manufacturer/defendant moved for a summary judgment on the grounds the plaintiff presented no evidence to support the theory that the worker was exposed to asbestos for which the defendant was responsible. In support of this argument, the defendant cited testimony from a Goodyear witness indicated he’d never heard of the manufacturer before, as well as testimony from the manufacturer’s witness indicating the firm had no knowledge that it supplied any materials to the plaintiff’s employer during the time he worked there.
Prior to that motion being heard, the defendant supplied a document at a deposition indicating the firm had in fact performed insulation work on steam piping at the employer’s plant in 1974 – at which time the decedent was employed there.
The plaintiff amended the complaint to include this information, but the court still granted the summary motion on the grounds that the proof of causation was not sufficient because the document did not offer proof the worker had been in the vicinity when the work with the defendant’s asbestos products was carried out.
The appellate court reversed, finding the defendant had not met its burden in showing there were no triable issues of fact for the court to hear. Rather, the question of whether the worker was in the vicinity when the work with the asbestos-laden products was done was a question of fact for the jury, not a question of law for the court.
The case was granted the green light to proceed to trial.
Contact our South Carolina mesothelioma lawyers at Lee Law Offices today by calling 800-887-1965.
Ganoe v. Metalclad Insulation Corp., July 21, 2014, Court of Appeal for the State of California, Second Appellate District, Division Three
More Blog Entries:
Pickett v. Cortese: Medical Malpractice and the State Review Board, July 29, 2014, Greenville Mesothelioma Lawyer Blog