Family Continues on Long Road to Justice After Losing Loved One to Mesothelioma

It has been 10 years since Robert “Bobby” Hilt was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and his family is still fighting for justice on his behalf.

Hilt worked as a laborer and machinist at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco between 1965 and 1972, and during that time he worked aboard several different ships, including the USS Constellation and USS Bradley.

In trying to determine the source of the asbestos exposure that caused his malignant mesothelioma, Mr. Hilt and his family realized that both of the ships the victim worked on were equipped with boilers manufactured by Foster Wheeler.

Hilt remembered working within two to three feet of boilermakers who were removing asbestos-containing firebrick and refractory materials from the boilers. He also remembered that their actions created “lots of dust,” which he inhaled on a regular basis.

After is death in 2010, Hilt’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the company. The company then successfully filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the family couldn’t prove that he was exposed to a Foster Wheeler product, or that the company had manufactured the actual asbestos-containing parts.

After years of battling back and forth, the U.S. District Court in California overruled the decision dismissing the charges. The family will be able to continue its fight for justice in the loss of their loved one.

In handing down its decision, the court reviewed the previous decisions in mesothelioma lawsuits and found that the decision had been incorrect, and that there actually was “evidence that he was exposed to respirable asbestos dust from insulation used in connection with Foster Wheeler boilers while aboard the USS Bradley and USS Constellation.”

The court also decided that the question of whether Foster Wheeler could say that they were not responsible for the asbestos exposure was a decision for a court to make. Consequently, the court decided that there was no basis for summary judgment to have been issued and reversed the decision. Mr. Hilt’s family will be able to have their day in court.

If you or a loved one has been affected by malignant mesothelioma, you need answers and advocacy. The Patient Advocates at are here to help. Call us today 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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