Refusing an asbestos defendant’s request to dismiss a claim by a Navy veteran for liability for his illness, a federal judge ruled plaintiff’s list of seven ships on which he served is sufficient proof of exposure to the toxic substance.
The case is being heard in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois.
The retired service member had served in the U.S. Navy between 1959 and 1979, during which time he worked in shipyards and on a number of ships. He alleges he suffered injurious exposure to the asbestos during this time frame
and years later, he was diagnosed with asbestosis.
It’s well understood that asbestos was a common substance used in the construction and repair of U.S. Navy ships. Claims against defendant manufacturers can be challenging, however, because the government has sovereign immunity, and defendants often claim they too are shielded because they acted at the direction of the federal government, making products that were to government specifications.
Defendant Crane Co. has faced a great deal of litigation for its alleged actions with regard to the manufacture of asbestos-containing products often used on Navy ships.
Plaintiff alleged his condition is the direct result of exposure to products that were made, sold or distributed by defendant. He alleges willful and wanton misconduct, negligent spoliation of evidence, willful spoliation of evidence and negligence. Defendant, he argues, knew or should have known its products were dangerous, and even so, failed to exercise ordinary care in order to ensure his safety.
Defense responded with a motion to dismiss. In that motion, defendant argued the allegations were insufficient because plaintiff failed to describe in any great detail claims upon which defense had a fair notice of grounds to defend. The firm noted plaintiff had produced a list of ships upon which he worked, but argued there was no allegation of specific products made/sold/distributed by defendant that caused injury.
The judge responded there was a sufficient statement of fact made by plaintiff that was, on its face, plausible. That was the only requirement plaintiff had to meet in order to survive summary judgment.
Burden of proof will inevitably be greater in the courtroom.
The judge has already indicated she will likely dismiss the spoliation claims (which pertain to alleged defense misconduct with regard to destroying or losing key pieces of evidence).
Asbestos plaintiffs often face an uphill battle in these cases. Our experienced mesothelioma lawyers are dedicated to the fight to ensure they and their families are compensated for such injustice. These companies for years systematically showed an utter disregard for the lives and well-being of the public. For this, they must be held accountable.
Help for mesothelioma victims can be found at The Ferraro Law Firm by calling 1-800-275-3332. Offices in Miami and Washington, D.C.
District judge denies dismissal for sufficient evidence of asbestos exposure on seven U.S. Navy ships, March 9, 2015, By Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, The Madison- St. Clair Record
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