One of the most common defense tactics employed by defendants in claims based on exposure to asbestos is to ask the court to grant summary judgment in their favor. Such a motion is based upon the argument that all material facts have been (or can be) resolved prior to the motion and that the plaintiff has no viable claim. A North Carolina federal judge rejected this strategy in a recent case against Honeywell, Inc., ruling that a product liability lawsuit brought by the widow of a former filling station employee has enough evidentiary support to necessitate a trial.
The plaintiff’s deceased husband contracted and died from mesothelioma, a disease caused almost exclusively by asbestos product exposure. His work in gas stations and on his family’s automobiles exposed him to asbestos fibers in automotive brakes. He testified before he died that he usually used brakes manufactured by Bendix, a company that had been purchased by Honeywell.
Honeywell argued that the cartons and boxes used by Bendix carried printed warnings that were consistent with warnings that had been approved by the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The court ruled that the adequacy of the warning label was an issue to be decided by the jury after a trial.
Anyone who believes that he or she may have been exposed to asbestos fibers should seek a medical evaluation. A negative diagnosis is not determinative because mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases often take more than 30 years to produce observable symptoms. A physician can continue to monitor a person’s condition so that any symptoms are detected as soon as possible. If an examination produces a positive diagnosis for mesothelioma, asbestosis, or any other asbestos-related disease, a consultation with an attorney who specializes in handling asbestos claims can provide a helpful evaluation of the facts and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Source: Law360, “Honeywell Can’t Avoid Trial on Widow’s Asbestos Claims,” Brandon Lowrey, April 4, 2016