New Jersey Supreme Court Ruling Holds Insurers Liable for Asbestos Claims

The New Jersey state Supreme Court recently handed down a significant ruling that will have an important impact on asbestos cancer litigation in the state and potentially nationwide for claims against Honeywell International and other asbestos companies. The ruling centers around the insurance many of these asbestos companies retain in order to shield themselves financially from verdicts and settlements in mesothelioma cancer lawsuits for claims related to asbestos-contaminated products.

In its decision, the New Jersey Supreme Court affirmed lower state court rulings holding that a policyholder is not required to contribute in the allocation of insurance liability for periods when the relevant insurance coverage was unavailable to that policyholder in the marketplace. What this means is that insurance companies indemnifying asbestos companies may still be on the hook for legal bills even if the manufacturer did not have continuous coverage from the insurance company in question during the time the defective products were manufactured.

The case arose because Honeywell International, which once manufactured brake pads with asbestos in them, sought coverage from its carrier, Continental Insurance Company, for thousands of mesothelioma cancer claims brought against it. Continental attempted to avoid paying the claims, arguing that Honeywell International did not have coverage during the time periods in which the company manufactured the asbestos-laden products that brought on the lawsuits.

The lawsuit brought by Honeywell is important because while many asbestos cancer plaintiffs might not know it, when a verdict is handed down at trial or a settlement is reached out of court, it is more likely an insurance company that will make the payment on behalf of the defendant. This case is another example of how far some of the country’s largest and most powerful companies will go in order to skirt their responsibility to compensate mesothelioma cancer victims for the harm they have suffered.

Although asbestos has not been in widespread commercial use for many decades, thousands of innocent people every year continue to grapple with a mesothelioma diagnosis due to the diseases’ long latency period. What this means is that there is a long period, usually 20 to 50 years, between the time of exposure and when a physician makes an asbestos cancer diagnosis.

Sadly, by the time the disease is detected, patients are left with diminished treatment options and are forced to take more drastic treatment options such as chemotherapy and radiation treatments. By filing a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, victims can recover compensation from the asbestos company to pay for vital medical treatment and lost wages while out of work during cancer treatments.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

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