Brothers’ Lawsuit for Sister’s Mesothelioma Permitted to Proceed

A heartbreaking lawsuit involving malignant mesothelioma is making its way through the Louisiana state court system, with four brothers recently winning a positive ruling as they seek justice for their late sister.

The case involves the death of Mary Jane Wilde, sister of the Legendre brothers; Stephen, Paul, Ragus, and Percy, Jr.

The siblings lost their sister in 2016 to complications from malignant mesothelioma, and have filed a wrongful death claim against Huntington Ingalls, Inc., blaming the company’s Avondale shipyard for her death.

The story of what happened to Mary Jane Wilde is not uncommon. The Legendre siblings’ father, Percy Legendre, worked at Avondale shipyard when they were children in the 1940s. His day-to-day activities put him in engine rooms, and in constant contact with asbestos dust.

When Percy left work each day and went home to his family, he unwittingly carried these asbestos fibers into the home, where he would play with Mary Jane. Years later she was diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of this second-hand exposure.

When the brothers filed suit, they claimed the company failed to warn employees of asbestos’ risks. They did not pursue the case on strict liability grounds. Despite this, the company’s attorneys tried to skirt some of its liability by filing a motion to remove the case to the Eastern District of Louisiana, defending itself by saying it had been working on behalf of the government.

In the face of Avondale’s motion, the brothers moved to remand and the district court agreed.  When Avondale appealed the court’s decision, the United States Court of Appeals Fifth Circuit upheld the lower court decision.

Although the court agreed that the case had involved work for the government, they indicated that the law only demands removal to federal court under certain circumstances, and where the company being sued was required by the government to act as they did. I

n the case of Avondale, the court said that the company was “free to adopt the safety measures the plaintiffs now allege would have prevented their injury.”

In other words, Avondale could have taken steps to protect Mr. Legendre, and to warn of asbestos’ dangers, without being in conflict with the requirements placed on it by the government. The brothers’ case will now be able to continue in front of a jury.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed by malignant mesothelioma or any other asbestos related disease, you need to talk to somebody who knows all the intricate details about the disease, and the resources available to you. Contact the Patient Advocates at today to learn more. We can be reached at 1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our news blog. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Terri believes that knowledge is power and she is committed to sharing news about the impact of mesothelioma, the latest research and medical breakthroughs, and victims’ stories.

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