Court Decides Trial Judge Wrongly Denied Evidence Request in Mesothelioma Trial

A mesothelioma widow will have another day in court after three judges on Pennsylvania’s Superior Court ruled that a Philadelphia trial court had abused its discretion in denying a jury request. 

Mesothelioma Victim Died After 35-Year Millwright Career

The original mesothelioma lawsuit was heard in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia’s County Civil Division. It presented the case of Ernest Schrader, a 35-year employee of the E.I. Nemours DuPont Edgemoor Facility in Delaware, who died of malignant mesothelioma on September 27th of 2017. His widow Colleen pursued claims against several asbestos companies and all but one, Ameron International Corporation, settled out of court. 

During the course of the 10-day trial, a significant amount of evidence was presented to the jury regarding asbestos, its role in the development of malignant mesothelioma, and the extent to which it was present in Mr. Schrader’s work environment. During its deliberations the jury requested an exhibit that had detailed an Ameron employee’s concerns about asbestos. The judge denied this request, telling the jury to rely upon their memory because he did not want to start a stream of evidence requests. 

Judge’s Decision in Mesothelioma Case Questioned

The jury decided that Ameron was not liable for Mr. Schrader’s mesothelioma. This verdict was a surprise, as they had ruled that the other companies named in the original claim had been negligent. Mrs. Schrader appealed the decision and asked for a new trial, arguing that the lower court had abused its discretion in denying the jury’s request.

In handing down their decision to allow the mesothelioma widow a new trial, the Superior Court judges called the trial court’s decision to deny the jury one piece of evidence based on the speculation that they might ask for more exhibits a “manifestly unreasonable exercise of discretion,” and wrote, “Further, we cannot conclude that the error was harmless.”

Mesothelioma victims who decide to pursue justice in court will experience many emotional highs and lows. For information on the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at 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.

Learn More About And Contact Terri
Get Help Contacting
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
24/7 Live Chat
Online Now