Malignant mesothelioma is a disease that few people have heard of and which rarely gets any public attention. But a lawsuit filed by the widows of two veterans who died of the rare, asbestos-related disease was recently heard and decided by the Supreme Court of the United States, and the court’s decision represents a big victory for asbestos victims everywhere.
The case was filed by Roberta G. Devries and Shirley McAfee, both of whom lost their Navy veteran husbands to malignant mesothelioma. They filed a lawsuit against a company called Air and Liquid System Corporation as well as CBS and General Electric, accusing each of them of responsibility for their husbands’ deaths. They accused the company of failing to warn that the products that they had manufactured, which were onboard the ships the men had worked on, used parts that were contaminated with asbestos and represented a significant health hazard.
The companies argued that they could not be held responsible for the men’s mesothelioma based on what is known as a “bare metal defense” – they blame the third-party suppliers and manufacturers of the parts, despite the fact that their equipment could not operate without them. The argument has been used successfully for years to deny victims the compensation that they deserve, and the widows appealed the decision all the way to the highest court in the land.
In a groundbreaking decision, the Supreme Court agreed with the mesothelioma widows, who specifically filed their lawsuit based on maritime law. In its final decision, the court wrote that “in the maritime tort context, a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when its product requires incorporation of a part, the manufacturer knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses, and the manufacturer has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger.”
If you or someone you love is a veteran who has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, this decision can have a big effect on you and your rights. For information, contact us today at 1-800-726-7245.