Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

Asbestos lawsuit derailed using maritime defense

A recent ruling in a Pennsylvania court demonstrates how intricate asbestos related injury claims can be. The case involved products liability law and maritime law as it applies to individuals exposed to asbestos, and it discusses in great detail failure to warn theories as opposed to defective warning theories.

It's because these claims can involve so many different areas of law that it's good to discuss asbestos related injuries with an attorney that has a great deal of experience in litigating these types of cases. Here, the court denied the asbestos claim because the ship that injured workers purportedly came into contact with asbestos is not a product as is defined under strict products liability law. The burden of warning about the asbestos would thus be placed upon the makers of the component parts that contained the asbestos rather than on the manufacturers or owners of the ship.

The court claims that the intent of maritime law is to protect sailors at sea. The above ruling may make the reader wonder as to whether this is necessarily the case.

Still, we do need to abide by the rules that courts put into place. Unfortunately, this often means that injured plaintiffs that have contracted mesothelioma or asbestosis - diseases that are generally irreversible and often fatal - will nevertheless have to jump through a large number of legal hoops.

Though this ruling makes it more difficult for those claiming exposure to asbestos while working upon a ship, it doesn't mean that claims are non-existent. Instead what it does indicate is that attorneys will have to investigate matters further to establish what defendants can be correctly added to such a lawsuit so that injured parties can be compensated.

Source: Harris Martin Publishing, "MDL Court Recognizes Sophisticated User Defense Under Maritime Law," Oct. 8, 2012

  • If you have concerns about asbestos exposure, you may wish to visit our website that concerns asbestos litigation.

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