The Superior Court of Pennsylvania recently overturned a summary judgment regarding one man’s possible asbestos exposure. Franklin Lamson worked for over two decades as a carpenter at the Philadelphia Navy Yard where he regularly fixed fire doors. Through the course of his work, he often drilled into the doors, some of which contained asbestos.
After being diagnosed with mesothelioma, a disease caused by asbestos exposure, Lamson sued the companies who manufactured the doors, International Paper Co. and Weyerhaeuser Co. The Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County sided in favor of the companies, issuing a summary judgment that Lamson had not submitted enough evidence for the case to go to trial. However, after an appeal was filed on behalf of Lamson’s estate, the Superior Court of Pennsylvania overturned. The carpenter’s family (the carpenter, sadly, has passed away) will now have the chance to prove his case before a jury.
Why did the judge overturn the judgment?
Judge Victor P. Stabile determined that Lamson’s estate did not need to prove that every door Lamson worked on contained asbestos. The estate only needed to prove that some of the doors Lamson worked on contained asbestos and were manufactured by the defendants. Now, a jury can decide whether these fire doors caused the man’s mesothelioma – which is all the carpenter’s family was asking for.
Is it common for asbestos exposure to occur at work?
Unfortunately, those who develop mesothelioma are often exposed to asbestos through their jobs. Many construction materials included asbestos because of its natural resistance to heat, water, chemicals and electricity.
Some products known to contain asbestos include:
- Fireproof coatings
- Joint compound
People who regularly worked with materials like these often have a high risk of developing asbestos-related illnesses such as mesothelioma. The construction, carpentry and shipyard industries all have a high risk of asbestos exposure.
Often, mesothelioma does not develop until decades after asbestos exposure. Those who work or used to work in high-risk industries may consider scheduling regular physicals to help catch mesothelioma quickly in case the disease does develop. Those who do have a diagnosis, or surviving family members, have legal options to help pay for the astronomical costs of treatment and hold the companies who knowingly manufactured these dangerous products accountable.