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

Discovery rule renews Pennsylvania wrongful death case

Plaintiffs do not have an unlimited time to file Pittsburgh personal injury and wrongful death claims. State law requires complaints to be submitted within two years of a victim's injury or death, including petitions for product liability wrongful death lawsuits.

The law does bend in certain circumstances. There is a discovery rule among Pennsylvania statutes that changes the statute of limitations for personal injury cases. The claim time clock changes when victims can show they were unaware of a cause or source at the time of an injury.

Georgia-Pacific Chemicals LLC was recently denied a summary judgment that might have dismissed a wrongful death claim against the manufacturer. A legal action brought by the widow of a man exposed to chemicals made and sold by Georgia-Pacific and related companies now will move forward.

The plaintiff's husband worked for the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission from 1983 until a doctor recommended leaving the "dirty" job in 2009. During his work as a fish culturist, the state worker was in daily contact with fungicides, made from deadly formaldehyde and other poisonous chemicals.

The employee was diagnosed with a reduced blood-cell condition called pancytopenia in 2008 and, within a few months, a blood-cell disease once known as preleukemia -- myelodysplastic syndrome or MDS.

The ill state worker was still alive in September 2010, when his family filed a lawsuit against chemical manufacturers. Georgia Pacific and two other chemical makers were added to the claim after the state worker's death in November 2011.

A federal judge threw out the case last year over the filing timeline, but new information came to light. The victim only learned in 2010 that the work chemicals were linked to MDS. Until then, he was unaware of the connection. The late discovery revitalized the case.

Products liability attorneys encourage plaintiffs to seek early legal advice, so time constraints don't inhibit chances for rightful compensation.

Source:, "Fish Culturist's Widow Advances Negligence Suit" Rose Bouboushian, Oct. 30, 2013

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