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A lauded victory has been handed down by a federal appellate court in New York: drug maker giant Pfizer can be sued for the asbestos exposure risk posed by a subsidiary, now bankrupt.
Our mesothelioma victim’s attorneys cheer this latest development in what has been a 30-year saga in the battle for justice.
At the core of this fight are insulation products that were manufactured by Quigley Co. Inc. This insulation contained asbestos. Pfizer purchased Quigley in the late 1960s. And while Pfizer never directly made the asbestos-laden product, it did slap its name on the product and derive a profit from its sale.
As it’s been well-documented, exposure to asbestos has been linked to a myriad of serious health ailments, including lung cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer that attacks the thin lining of the organs. In both cases, the results are almost always deadly, though often not discovered until many years after the initial exposure. At particular risk are workers who handled the product day in and day out. But those who may have had this insulation installed in their homes or offices could also be at significant risk.
The case is called In re Quigley Company Inc, U.S. Court of the Appeals for the Second Circuit.
At one point, Quigley faced lawsuits filed by more than 160,000 people – some of them dating back to the 1970s. It filed for bankruptcy in 2004.
Pfizer hammered out a deal with attorneys who represented about 80 percent of those plaintiffs, resulting in a $430 million payout. The bankruptcy was part of that settlement.
Then, a bankruptcy court issued an injunction staying the rest of the lawsuits. Quigley and Pfizer had argued that the bankruptcy protected Quigley from any future lawsuits.
But then, the attorney for the plaintiffs argued a theory of liability known as “apparent manufacturer.” What this basically means is that although Pfizer didn’t actually make the product, its logo and name were still on the packaging – which means it can be held liable for that product. A federal judge agreed and overturned the injunction.
The district court cited the Restatement of Torts § 400, which states that anyone who puts their name and logo on a certain product is subject to the same liability as the company that actually made the product.
Now, the appeals court has upheld that decision.
What this means is that future victims will have the opportunity to seek justice.
Pfizer, in a written statement, underscored that this was a procedural issue, not one that indicated the claimants were right or wrong – and unsurprisingly, Pfizer denies any liability. But the truth is that holding these companies accountable for the permanent damage they inflicted on countless families is important, not only to ensuring that those harmed individuals and their families are cared for, but that the company will use greater care in the future.
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Frequently Asked Questions: Mesothelioma & Asbestos
What is asbestos?
Asbestos is a carcinogenic, naturally occurring fibrous mineral. Known for its heat resistance and durability, asbestos has historically been used in insulation, construction materials, automotive parts, and shipbuilding materials.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos is made up of small shard-like fibers that can easily become airborne when disturbed. If inhaled or ingested, these fibers can embed within the lining of the lungs, heart, stomach, or testes where they can cause cancer to form years or decades later.
What are asbestos-related diseases?
Asbestos exposure can cause mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer.
What causes mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Unfortunately, symptoms of mesothelioma may not appear until decades after exposure.
What are the different types of mesothelioma?
Three of the most common types of mesothelioma are pleural mesothelioma, peritoneal mesothelioma, and pericardial mesothelioma.
What are common mesothelioma symptoms?
Common symptoms of mesothelioma include difficulty breathing and chest pains. Peritoneal mesothelioma, which affects the stomach, may cause abdominal swelling, loss of appetite, constipation, abdominal pain, and nausea.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a preventable form of cancer most commonly caused by asbestos exposure. If you were exposed to asbestos while serving in the U.S. military or while working in construction, mechanics, or a similar field, you may be eligible for compensation. Contact The Ferraro Law Firm for a free legal consultation.
What is the life expectancy for someone with mesothelioma?
There is no cure for mesothelioma. However, patients can receive treatments for mesothelioma that may extend their initial prognosis with proper treatment. Those diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma usually have a life expectancy that is greater than three years, though a large part of this depends on the stage the patient is diagnosed. The earlier the diagnosis, the longer the life expectancy and chance of long-term survival.
Do I qualify for compensation if I have mesothelioma?
If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should immediately seek long-term medical treatment. After that, you should contact our firm to examine your legal rights. Since 1985, The Ferraro Law Firm has represented individuals with asbestos-related diseases and pursued fair compensation on their behalf. Our firm is one of the top five law firms in the U.S. handling mesothelioma and asbestos cases.
The Ferraro Law Firm provides comprehensive legal services, including business litigation on a contingency-fee basis. Call (888) 554-2030 for a free and confidential consultation.
Court rules Pfizer can face some asbestos suits, By Ben Berkowitz, Reuters