It has been six years since Henry Barabin passed away from malignant pleural mesothelioma, and more than 8 years since a jury decided that it was a result of negligence on the part of Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. and other defendants.
Yet, the legal ordeal for Henry’s wife Geraldine has continued, as Scapa appealed the verdict and then moved to have the whole case dismissed instead of going to a new trial.
Despite Scapa’s argument that Mrs. Barabin has insufficient proof that their products caused her husband’s death, District Judge James L. Robart of the U.S. District Court in Seattle, Washington has denied their motion and Mrs. Barabin will have the chance to try her case again.
In making his decision, Judge Robart explained rules regarding summary judgment. He concluded that though Mrs. Barabin didn’t present any direct evidence linking Scapa’s products to Mr. Barabin’s mesothelioma, “the circumstantial evidence she provides, when viewed in the light most favorable to her, is sufficient for a reasonable juror to infer that Mr. Barabin was exposed to Scapa asbestos-containing dryer felts during the 30-plus years he worked at the Camas paper mill.”
Mrs. Barabin had presented evidence of her husband having worked at the Camas paper mill between 1968 and 2001 in a variety of positions, and that many of them required him to work on machines that Scapa’s asbestos-contaminated dryer felts were used on.
He also used high pressure hoses to blow dust out of the dryers, and it is likely that the dust came from asbestos. Other tasks included checking the filters on the machines, including those that used filters made by Scapa.
For their part, Scapa’s attorney tried to argue that because the work site where Mr. Barabin worked was so expansive, there is no way of knowing that his asbestos exposure and subsequent mesothelioma diagnosis came from their dryer felts.
The court ruled that the evidence showed that he worked in direct proximity to the dryer felts as well as on the machines that used them. They also argued that there was evidence showing that the slight majority of its dryer felts did not contain asbestos, but the court disagreed that this would impact the possibility that a jury would rule out the remainder as a potential cause of exposure.
The widow will be able to proceed with retrying the case.
If you or someone you love was exposed to asbestos at your workplace and diagnosed with mesothelioma, there are many resources available to help you on your journey. Contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.