Mesothelioma lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm report that a Pennsylvania court recently upheld a $1.3 million verdict in favor of the estate of a welder and custodian at a metal fabrication plant, Hobart Brothers Co. Hobart attempted to have the case thrown out based on the testimony of a doctor preempted by a 2012 Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling.
That ruling negated the “any exposure” theory, which holds that each and every instance of exposure to asbestos throughout a person’s life contributes significantly to the development of asbestos-related illnesses. Despite this theory being, for the most part pretty obvious, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court decided in Betz v. Pneumo Abex that it was not.
In that case, the court dismissed the lawsuit of the estate of a former mechanic who contracted mesothelioma from occupational exposure to asbestos. During trial, Dr. John C. Maddox testified that each and every fiber of asbestos inhaled could constitute a contributing factor to asbestos-caused illnesses. This opinion, the court decided, was in irreconcilable conflict, as Maddox also affirmed that development of mesothelioma was also dose-responsive.
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The state Supreme Court decided that Maddox’s testimony did not pass the Frye test, which requires a testifying expert presenting a scientific or medical theory to demonstrate that the theory is generally accepted within that field. In the Hobart Brothers case, however, an appeals court ruled that a similar causation expert adequately established a connection between the welder’s occupation and exposure to asbestos and his development of mesothelioma and ultimate death.
The man worked as a welder and mechanic for 30 years at a metal fabrication plant, working with products that were knowingly laden with asbestos. Dr. DuPont, instead of emphasizing that any amount of asbestos could have caused his cancer, testified that his decades-long exposure was a critical element in his mesothelioma development. DuPont went on record saying that the total accumulation of asbestos fibers the welder was exposed to was the substantial contributing factor to his death.
He spent 20 of his 30 years at the plant working with welding rods composed of asbestos. The specifics of his job caused asbestos fibers and dust to be released into the air and easily inhaled. After two decades the man suffered a severe back injury and began working as a custodian for the proceeding ten years. Unfortunately, his work as custodian required him to clean up asbestos dust, only increasing his exposure to airborne fibers.
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In related news, the state of Vermont recently reached an agreement with the owners of a former asbestos mine located in Lowell and Eden to clean up the remaining asbestos. The defunct mine, owned by the Vermont Asbestos Group, has been a very real and imminent threat to the health of Lowell and Eden residents.
Vermont is now seeking money from the Asbestos Group to pay for the mine clean-up through a civil lawsuit. The remedial efforts could cost hundreds of millions to finish, as any action taken with asbestos is highly regulated and subject to specific rules and requirements. The owners, however, claim not to have the financial resources to complete the clean-up. So far, the work being done at the mines include erosion control and other short-term efforts.
Some work, however, simply cannot wait – one building in particular houses about 17,000 cubic yards of dry asbestos ore and the roof is decomposing. Experts and the public are concerned that the dry ore will be released into the environment and surrounding community if actions are not immediately taken. As stated, if asbestos fibers are released into the air they can easily be inhaled by the public, implant in their lungs, and lead to devastating illnesses and cancers.
Mesothelioma attorneys at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm will continue to report on significant asbestos exposure lawsuits and clean-up efforts throughout the country. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos fibers and developed a related illness, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to significant compensation for medical bills and wrongful death. Contact a qualified mesothelioma lawyer for a free legal consultation as soon as possible to get started.