A Virginia federal court recently denied a defendant asbestos company’s bid to dismiss maritime law claims brought by the estate of a deceased plaintiff who claimed the victim developed mesothelioma through years of using carcinogenic asbestos products produced by the defendant. In its decision, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia determined that U.S. admiralty law does in fact apply to the case and the matter may proceed based on the allegations of fact there in.
The plaintiff’s mesothelioma cancer lawsuit alleged that during his service in the United States Navy, the victim worked for years doing shipbuilding and repair using asbestos-laden parts manufactured and sold by John Crane, Inc. The plaintiff’s estate elected to file the asbestos cancer claim under U.S. maritime law because his injuries occurred on navigable waters of the country, and therefore entitled to additional benefits and compensation under such statutes.
Court filings indicate that John Crane, Inc. did not necessarily contest that its products in question contained asbestos, or that they may have necessarily caused the plaintiff’s injuries. Instead, the defendant asserted that the plaintiff’s case should be tried under Virginia state law, as they claimed any injuries the plaintiff suffered occurred while the ships he was working on were docked in ports in the state. John Crane, Inc. further argued that the plaintiff’s mesothelioma diagnosis was due to “asbestos work,” which would make it an inappropriate claim to bring under U.S. maritime law.