Asbestos companies accused of negligence in mesothelioma cases use a variety of legal arguments to evade responsibility or minimize their financial risk. A common strategy involves removing a case from a state court to a federal court, where they are less likely to be assessed substantial damages. A recent claim involving a Washington man diagnosed with the rare asbestos-related disease provides a good example of how quickly an asbestos manufacturer will turn to this procedure, and how the victim can prevail.
Washington State Man Blames Mesothelioma on Asbestos-Contaminated Asbestos
The case was filed by George Kraemer, a 79-year-old retired science teacher diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in August of 2020. Mr. Kramer spent his life in Washington state, and blames his cancer on second-hand exposure to asbestos and asbestos-containing products sold by Lone Star Industries to Todd Shipyard and Puget Sound Bridge and Dredging, where his father had worked as an insulator between 1942 and 1945.
Lone Star pursued a legal strategy of removing the mesothelioma lawsuit to federal court based on the federal officer removal statute. They argued that they provided the contaminated material based on military specifications, which would have given them the right to move the claim to the friendlier court. The Kraemers objected, and filed a motion to remand which would move the suit back to state court. They also asked that their legal fees for defending against the removal be reimbursed.
District Judge Agrees with Mesothelioma Victim
In reviewing the case, District Judge Barbara Jacobs Rothstein noted that in order to qualify for the protection of the federal officer removal statute in mesothelioma suits, asbestos companies must show more than that their products were sold to the military. They are required to show that the product that they sold was “military equipment” manufactured with the special needs of the military in mind. The product that Lone Star sold to Mr. Kraemer’s father’s employers was the same as what the company marketed to non-military commercial entities, including “paper mills, refineries, hospitals, breweries, the University of Washington, and Boeing.” She noted that the company failed to provide a sound evidentiary basis to their removal and ordered the case returned to state court. She also awarded the mesothelioma plaintiff attorneys fees.
If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is important that you have experienced advocates by your side to help with the many challenges you’ll face. Call the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net today at 1-800-692-8608 to learn more about the resources we can provide.