A recent workers’ compensation case heard by the Supreme Court of Missouri illuminates the many challenges of filing a mesothelioma claim, as well as the inherent value of demanding justice and fair treatment.
The case involved the family of Robert Casey, a floor tile installer who had worked for several different companies throughout his career. Mr. Casey was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2014, and his disease was attributed to having worked with vinyl asbestos tiles.
Though his employers stopped using asbestos-based products in the mid-1980s, Mr. Casey was still responsible for removing old tiles before installing new ones, and therefore was frequently breathing in asbestos fibers.
In 2015 Mr. Casey filed a workers’ compensation claim seeking special mesothelioma benefits offered under his company’s insurance company, and he died while it was still pending. His widow submitted a notice changing the claim to a death benefit for herself and her 8 adult children, and the insurance company and his former employer attempted to deny those benefits for a variety of reasons.
Among the excuses that the insurer offered were an attempt to say that the coverage did not apply to illnesses when the last date of exposure was prior to January of 2014. They also said that Mrs. Casey and her children were not entitled to benefits because they had not properly provided notice of their claim.
The Supreme Court of Missouri took a strong stance on behalf of mesothelioma victims in their response to the insurance company’s argument. They were dismissive of the notion that the mesothelioma benefit offered in the policy was only applicable to exposures that occurred after January of 2014, stating, that “the last exposure rule is immaterial here,”
“If recovery … were limited to individuals who were last exposed to asbestos during the policy period, this policy’s mesothelioma endorsement – and similar provisions in countless other insurance policies – would be rendered essentially worthless. It would allow insurance companies to provide illusory, hollow policies. Because individuals are no longer regularly exposed to asbestos in the workplace, the pool of individuals who were last exposed to asbestos in 2015 is minuscule, if any.”
The court went on to detail the condition’s long latency period to further support its position. It also denied the insurer’s argument against accepting the third page of an amended claim, which detailed the widow and her children as beneficiaries.
It is an unfortunate fact that mesothelioma victims still have asbestos companies and their defenders working against them being treated fairly, but there are also many organizations and individuals who are there to provide them with support and advocacy.
If you need assistance or information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.