A man suffering from mesothelioma won an important victory in California recently against a large company that was trying to have the case moved from state court to federal court.
Our mesothelioma lawyers understand that the U.S. District Court Central District of California ruled in Dimitris O. Couscouris v. Hatch Grinding Wheels, Inc., et al that the defendant, in this case, Lorillard, did not meet the burden of proof to have the case moved.
This is important because it demonstrates the court’s reticence to delay litigation, particularly in cases where the plaintiff may have only months to live. No doubt, that was Lorillard’s plan. We’ve seen them do it repeatedly in tobacco litigation, and they had attempted to do the same here, where they were accused of asbestos exposure.
Lorillard is the maker of tobacco products, which have been known to contain asbestos (along with some 4,000 other toxic chemicals).
The plaintiff in this case, Mr. Couscouris, filed a lawsuit back in December, alleging that exposure to products produced by Lorillard and others resulted in his fatal diagnosis.
Mesothelioma is a cancer that attacks internal organs, and is caused by exposure to asbestos, an organic compound that was used in a broad range of products in the U.S. in the 20th Century. The disease remains latent for years after exposure, with the sufferer often having no indication of illness until much later in life. By the time symptoms begin to emerge, the patient may have, at best, a few years to live.
Although court documents weren’t immediately available to indicate how Mr. Couscouris alleges the exposure occurred, we do know that Lorillard, being listed as one of the nine defendants, was trying to stall. The plaintiff claims negligence, strict liability and loss of consortium (by his wife, who will soon be a widow).
Though his doctors had indicated he likely has only a few months to live, Lorillard filed a notice of removal, contending that the federal court had jurisdiction, rather than California state courts. Further, the company argues Metalclad Insulation Corporation and Yeager Enterprises, both California companies – were fraudulently joined in the suit.
Lorillard alleged these companies were “fraudulently jointed because, they contended, Mr. Couscouris hadn’t given a specific account of how Yeager or Metalclad products contributed to his ailment. As other companies named in the suit were based in other states, Lorillard contended, it should be the federal court that should have jurisdiction.
However, our mesothelioma lawyers know this was not about jurisdiction. It was about delay. In fact, we have seen this with regularity. Using delay tactics, which include filing reams of endless motions and useless paperwork, has become a common – and fairly effective – way of pressuring terminally ill plaintiffs to simply settle for a low sum or quit altogether.
The court, however, saw through this, and ruled that the company had not met the burden of proof required to successfully have the case moved – and further delayed.
Our attorneys understand the many tactics of those companies accused of sickening hundreds of thousands trough exposure to asbestos. Having a lawyer who understands these tactics is critical to a successful outcome.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami, Washington, D.C., and New York City.
Dimitris O. Couscouris, et al. v. Hatch Grinding Wheels, Inc., et al., Justia Dockets