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

Dozens of high-profile businesses named in asbestos case

Some companies well-known to Pittsburgh residents are named in a giant mesothelioma lawsuit. The 31 defendants are businesses made up of insurers and companies alleged to have contributed to the lone plaintiff's terminal, asbestos-linked cancer diagnosis.

According to two recent reports in The Louisiana Record, the former shipyard employee learned in October 2012 that he had malignant mesothelioma, which is an incurable condition. The man alleged that he was exposed to asbestos fibers from his father's employment as a draftsman, worked around asbestos in the 1970s and 1980s and lived near asbestos products plants for decades.

The terminally-ill plaintiff hopes to recover an unidentified amount for medical expenses, lost wages, physical and emotional suffering and a diminished quality of life.

The defendants are charged with various forms of liability, which differ according to the category of damages. Companies including Uniroyal Inc., International Paper Co. and Viacom Inc. are lumped among more than a dozen defendants that mine, make, sell, use or distribute asbestos products.

Other defendants like ExxonMobil and Union Carbide Corp. are among 11 property owners or employers. A third category includes six insurers.

The claim charges the largest defendant group with using a product without warning the public of its dangers. The employer complaint is more personal. It alleges that the employers had hazardous, unmonitored working conditions and failed to tell the victim's father about health risks.

The asbestos injury lawsuit is a strict liability claim. Strict liability plaintiffs do not have to show that a product manufacturer or other defendant was negligent but must prove that an "unreasonably dangerous" product caused harm. A personal injury attorney would focus on an "abnormally" hazardous product's defects and tie the defect to the plaintiff's injury.

According to the patient advocacy website, mesothelioma lies dormant for 25 to 50 years. Many plaintiffs don't know they have the terminal disease until after age 50, sometimes decades after exposure to asbestos.

Source:, "Shell Oil, ExxonMobil among 31 defendants named in asbestos suit" Holland Phillips, Nov. 08, 2013

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