A U.S. federal judge recently handed down an important ruling in a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit that will allow four expert witnesses to testify on behalf of the plaintiff who claims that her husband developed a serious form of lung cancer as a result of negligence on the part of the deceased’s former employer. Attorneys for defendant Air & Liquid Services Inc. had sought to exclude the expert witnesses’ testimony in the case, in what can only be interpreted as an attempt to skirt liability for the harm caused by their client.
According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington, the deceased victim worked in the engine room aboard the USS Tuscaloosa in 1974 and was exposed to asbestos containing components during that time. As a result of his exposure to deadly asbestos fibers while serving his country, the deceased developed a rare and deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma.
One of the expert witnesses the plaintiff had intended to call at trial was to testify that during the 1960s and 1970s, ships like the USS Tuscaloosa would have their asbestos-containing gaskets removed and replaced during routine maintenance. Further, the removal and replacement of these asbestos gaskets would often produce airborne asbestos fibers, which would settle on horizontal surfaces in densely packed machinery spaces and that enginemen like the deceased would work on these types of systems.
Defendants for Air & Liquid Systems Inc. had sought to exclude that particular expert witness’ testimony on the grounds that he did not have factual data regarding the frequency, intensity, or duration of the deceased’s exposure to asbestos fibers while serving aboard the USS Tuscaloosa. Fortunately for the plaintiff, the federal judge hearing the case determined that the defendant failed to identify any rule of law that would preclude that particular witness to testify and prevent yet another expert witness from relying on the conclusions drawn from the former witness’ testimony concerning the victim’s exposure to asbestos and the conditions and frequency of such exposure.
Asbestos was used for decades as an insulation gasket making material for various machinery aboard US Navy ships because of the mineral’s heat resistant properties. However, exposure to asbestos fibers is also directly linked to developing mesothelioma, a form of cancer that commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs such as the lungs and heart. Despite knowing about the health effects of asbestos containing parts, companies and shipyards that serviced federal vessels continued to use it and put innocent servicemen and servicewomen in harm’s way.
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