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NY Court Finds Several Asbestos Companies Liable in Mesothelioma Lawsuit

By Shaniqua Williams

Posted on July 19th, 2017

Although well aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure long before the toxic mineral was declared a hazard to human health, many asbestos companies have been found guilty of deliberately allowing workers to handle asbestos-containing products.

When people first started filing asbestos-related lawsuits, companies have tried to flee responsibility, citing various reasons in their defense. In fact, asbestos companies are considered more liable for asbestos exposure if they specifically took steps to hide the health risks from workers and consumers. When seeking full and fair compensation for an illness that developed as a result of asbestos exposure, the courts allow claimants to name multiple defendants in order to be held accountable for their negligence.

Victim Diagnosed with Mesothelioma Filing a Lawsuit Against Several Defendants

On July 6, 2017, the judges of the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York ruled in favor of Eileen A. O'Connor, a mesothelioma victim who alleged that her illness was the consequence of occupational asbestos exposure. The plaintiff had worked with asbestos-containing equipment between 1975 and 1979 at the Westchester County Department of Labs and Research and was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in February 2015. Shortly after receiving the diagnosis, she and her husband took legal action by filing a personal injury lawsuit against multiple lab suppliers, including VWR International, Fisher Scientific Company, and Thomas Scientific, Inc. Although the case had initially been dismissed by the Supreme Court in Saratoga County, Mrs. O'Connor was subsequently allowed to pursue her lawsuit.

The Plaintiff Is Allowed to Continue Seeking Financial Compensation from the Asbestos Suppliers Responsible for Her Illness

Following a thorough review of the grounds on which the defendants had been granted motions for summary judgment, the lower courts' decision was eventually reversed. The arguments which prompted the original judge to dismiss Mrs. O'Connor's lawsuit include:

  • her failure to identify the defendants as the suppliers of the asbestos products at fault
  • the evidence provided by the plaintiff was insufficient to support her case
  • lack of records stating that the defendants had sold asbestos-containing equipment to Mrs. O'Connor's employer
  • the period of time which had elapsed since the plaintiff's exposure to asbestos was too long

It is worthy of note that all these arguments were enunciated by the defendants with the purpose of having the complaint against them dismissed. Upon reviewing the plaintiff's appeal, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York concluded that the absence of documentation on the part of the defendants cannot be considered as proper evidence that they had not, indeed, sold asbestos-contaminated equipment to Mrs. O'Connor's employer. The court also stated that the asbestos companies merely emphasized what they believed to be weak spots in the plaintiff's evidence while failing to actually demonstrate why her assertions of causation were incorrect. Accordingly, each of the defendants will have to prove that they are not liable for Mrs. O'Connor's diagnosis of pleural mesothelioma in order for the lawsuit to be irrevocably dismissed.

Legal Remedies for Asbestos Victims

The case of Eileen A. O'Connor is, unfortunately, one of the numerous examples illustrating the incredible extent to which liable asbestos companies are willing to go so as to avoid taking responsibility for their apparent negligence. As a victim of asbestos exposure, taking legal action is of utmost importance. Not only will filing a claim or a lawsuit grant you the compensation you deserve, but it will also hold the party at fault accountable for its carelessness. If you or a loved one developed a disease as a result of occupational asbestos exposure, we strongly encourage you to seek financial compensation by filing a claim with asbestos trust funds or a lawsuit against your former employer. With the help of a lawyer specialized in asbestos litigation, recovering proper compensation for your injury is definitely feasible. Please contact Environmental Litigation Group, P.C. directly at 205.328.9200 and our attorneys will offer you all the information about your financial recovery possibilities.