Aug 13

Asbestos Exposure Causing Mesothelioma Allowed to go to Jury

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Manufacturers and Suppliers of Equipment Containing Asbestos Gaskets Potentially Liable

In a case filed in federal court in North Carolina, several manufacturers and suppliers of asbestos-containing products used at a oil refinery are faced with liability for negligence and wrongful death claims brought by the estate of Ralph Logan.  Mr. Logan worked at the Getty refinery in Delaware for thirty years where he was exposed to asbestos on a regular basis.

In Logan v. Air Products and Chemicals, Inc., et al, 12-CV-1353 (M.D.N.C. Aug. 7, 2014), the court recently denied the defendants’ summary judgment motions, concluding that the plaintiffs had produced evidence of frequent and regular exposure to asbestos sufficient to present the matter to a jury.  The defendants in the case, Air Products and Chemicals, Inc. (as successor in interest to Catalytic), Crane Company, and Ingersoll-Rand Company sought to dismiss the claims on various defenses.

The plaintiffs contended that Catalytic and its agents were negligent in performing maintenance on asbestos or asbestos-containing products at the Getty refinery and in employing individuals to do such work, causing Mr. Logan’s mesothelioma and death.

Air Products argued that Getty, not Catalytic, was in charge of the worksite and Catalytic’s employees and that Catalytic was therefore not responsible for the acts of its employees.  The court found that the plaintiffs produced evidence that Catalytic supervisors exercised control over the Catalytic employees working at Getty, and that Catalytic directed employee training, safety, and staffing of its employees working at Getty. The plaintiffs also produced evidence that when Catalytic employees applied insulation, they spread asbestos dust and that Mr. Logan was regularly present when that occurred.  The court found that this was sufficient evidence from which a reasonable jury could find that Catalytic had a duty to Mr. Logan.

The court also found that the plaintiffs presented evidence that Mr. Logan was present when Catalytic employees removed and installed pipe covering insulation, that these tasks produced high levels of asbestos dust, and that insulating work was done frequently in the summer and a bit less in the winter throughout Mr. Logan’s employment. The plaintiffs’ expert testimony showed that asbestos exposure is the only known cause of mesothelioma, and, specifically, that Mr. Logan’s asbestos exposure was the sole cause of his mesothelioma, which caused his death.  The court concluded that this was enough to support a reasonable inference that defendant’s conduct caused Mr. Logan’s injuries and death.  The Court also found sufficient evidence for the cases to proceed against Crane Company and Ingersoll-Rand.

If you believe that you have suffered damages due to the wrongful conduct of your employer or its agents, contact an attorney with experience handling these types of claims.

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