When pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against an asbestos company, mesothelioma victims and their families must make many decisions, including whether to pursue their case in federal court or in a state court. State courts offer several advantages. They are both more convenient for victims who are struggling with their symptoms and medical treatment, and their juries tend to be more empathetic and generous with their verdicts. But asbestos companies often fight to keep the claims in federal court, with some going so far as to accuse victims of fraud. A recent California case exemplifies this tactic, as well as how these accusations are handled.
California Couple Names Asbestos Company and Product Sellers in Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Shortly after Dr. John Rathbun was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, he and his wife Gwendolyn filed a lawsuit against Chattem, Inc., as well as Lucky Stores and Safeway. Chattem is the manufacturer of Gold Bond cosmetic powders, and the couple claims that the talc in the products was contaminated with asbestos and caused his illness, while Lucky Stores and Safeway were the vendors from whom the couple purchased the company’s products. When the couple remanded the case to their state court Chattem objected, arguing that Lucky Stores and Safeway were only named as defendants to justify the case being heard in California rather than in federal court. They accused the couple of “fraudulent joinder”.
The mesothelioma victim and his wife did not dispute that the two retailers were the only California defendants named in their lawsuit, but said that the asbestos company had not met its burden of proof of fraud, and the court agreed. The judges noted that there are only two ways for Chattem to establish fraudulent joinder in the case: either to show actual fraud in the facts or that the Rathbuns could not establish a case against Safeway and Lucky. This was the basis that Chattem attempted to use, but the judge rejected it based upon a previous ruling that stated that “all doubts concerning the sufficiency of a cause of action because of inartful, ambiguous or technically defective pleading must be resolved in favor of remand, and a lack of clear precedent does not render the joinder fraudulent.
Victim Says More Evidence May Be Presented in Mesothelioma Lawsuit in The Future
Because the Rathbuns’ attorney argued that more evidence against Safeway and Lucky may be presented as the mesothelioma lawsuit proceeds, and because Chattem did not show that they would not be able to do that in the future, the court found it “at least possible” that their claim against the retailers might succeed in the future. The case will be returned to the state court for a local jury to hear.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important to work with people who understand all of the options available to you. For information on how the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help, call us today at 1-800-692-8608.