A State of New York Appeals Court recently handed down an important ruling in an asbestos cancer lawsuit that will allow the injured plaintiff to proceed with his claim and possibly recover compensation for the injuries he suffered as a result of the defendant’s negligence. In its split decision, the appeals court allowed a lawsuit by a former merchant marine can not be thrown out based on a settlement he agreed to in the 1990s that was intended to exempt the employer from all future claims from the employee.
The lawsuit was originally brought against Chevron in in 2014 by a former employee after he developed mesothelioma, which the complaint alleged was induced by the victim’s exposure to asbestos while he served as a seaman in the Merchant Marine for nearly four decades. The plaintiff subsequently passed away from complications with the disease in 2015 but the victim’s wife took over as the plaintiff in the case.
Chevron had moved to resolve the case based on a release the victim signed in 1997 when he and approximately 100 other former workers were involved in another lawsuit against Texaco, which later merged with Chevron. The victim claimed he was exposed to asbestos fibers when he worked aboard Texaco ships during his career with the company and while he had not yet been diagnosed with mesothelioma, the settlement sought to release the company from any future liability.
“We conclude that Chevron has not met its burden to demonstrate the absence of any material question of fact,” Associate Judge Rowan Wilson wrote. “The 1997 release does not unambiguously extinguish a future claim for mesothelioma.” The judges ruling in favor of the plaintiff cited language in the Federal Employer’s Liability Act, maritime law, and the Jones Act which precluded the plaintiff from signing away his rights to seek compensation for injuries that were not foreseeable under the settlement agreement.
Asbestos is a naturally occuring mineral once used in variety of military, industrial, and commercial applications for its heat-resistant properties and ability to be molded into a variety of shapes. Unfortunately, the mineral is also directly linked with developing a rare and deadly form of cancer called mesothelioma, a disease that grows tumors in thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs like the heart, lungs, and abdomen.
Despite knowing for decades about the health risks, companies like Texaco chose to continue using asbestos contaminated products in a variety of uses, putting innocent people at risk for developing serious health complications. By filing mesothelioma cancer lawsuits, victims and their families can recover vital compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced 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.