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NY Court Dismisses Asbestos Companies’ Argument Based on Cigarette Labels

A New York asbestos court recently struck down a motion by defendants in an asbestos cancer lawsuit which has sought to dismiss the case on the grounds that the plaintiff was a smoker who otherwise ignored health warnings on the packages of cigarettes he smoked. In its decision, the New York Supreme Court for the County of New York soundly rejected the desperate attempt by defendants Viacom Inc. and General Electric Company to avoid liability for the alleged negligence that the plaintiff’s estate claims was directly responsible for the victim’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

The crux of Viacom and General Electric’s motion for summary judgment was that since now deceased plaintiff was a longtime smoker who did not heed the warnings placed on cigarette packages he smoked, the victim therefore would have ignored any warnings the companies would have, but did not, place on their own allegedly carcinogenic asbestos products. In response, the plaintiff’s estate argued that he had not been aware of the dangers of smoking cigarettes when he started his habit, but tried repeatedly to quit once he learned of the health risks.

In its decision, the New York Supreme Court called the defendants’ argument “speculative” and that the question of the victim’s credibility to his claims must be left to a jury to decide. The court further found another motion brought by defendants to dismiss claims for punitive damages as unpersuasive, leaving open the possibility that a jury could ultimately award additional damages should they find the companies’ conduct rose to the standards which would warrant such additional compensation.

In the asbestos cancer lawsuit, the plaintiff’s estate claimed that during his time as an electrical worker, he was frequently exposed to asbestos-laden products used in his work with transformers and electrical panels. Specifically, the lawsuit claimed that the electrical panels and transformers he worked on were insulated with asbestos materials manufactured by the defendants. In testimony before his passing, the victim stated that he saw no warnings nor was advised about the risks associated with working with the defendants’ allegedly carcinogenic products.

While the plaintiff’s estate has appeared to have cleared a major hurdle to ultimately having the lawsuit heard by a jury in court, the proceedings nonetheless demonstrate the lengths to which asbestos companies will go in order to deny, delay, and defend otherwise meritorious claims and compensate victims accordingly. Further, the case shows how innocent people are still suffering to this day due to the negative health effects of working with what has been a known carcinogen directly linked to developing mesothelioma cancer.

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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.



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