An immigrant’s dream of a better life in America came to a tragic end in 2016 when he died following a nearly two-year battle with malignant mesothelioma. Before Branko Srica succumbed to his disease, he provided testimony about exposure to asbestos that occurred over 11 years of removing and replacing asbestos tiles as part of his daily responsibilities as a building supervisor in Queens, New York. Though Mr. Srica died, his widow is continuing his legal battle for justice against American Biltrite, maker of the tiles.
Asbestos Exposure from Floor Tiles
According to testimony that Mr. Srica provided before he died of mesothelioma at the age of 74, he was exposed to significant quantities of asbestos when he was in charge of maintenance for up to sixty apartments from 1975 through 1986. He testified that after he migrated from Yugoslavia in 1971 at the age of 29, he was hired as a superintendent of an apartment building in Rockaway, and that he frequently was required to remove old floor tile and replace it with new tile. He identified the type of tile that he worked with, going into great detail about the tile’s physical characteristics as well as its packaging. He described his work process and the amount of dust that was created during the course of each project, and his testimony was reinforced by his widow, who frequently was present while he was doing the work. She also remembered specifics about the packaging of the tiles, including the brand names and the fact that the boxes explicitly identified the tiles as asbestos.
Asbestos Company’s Attempt to Escape Liability Failed
Though Biltrite filed a motion for summary judgment to have the mesothelioma lawsuit against them dismissed, Judge Manuel J. Mendez of the New York City Asbestos Litigation court denied their motion, indicating that Mr. Srica and his wife had provided an ample amount of factual testimony from which the company’s liability could be reasonably inferred, and that therefore the case could not be dismissed. Instead, it will proceed to be heard by a jury, which will decide American Biltrite’s level of liability for Mr. Srica’s illness and early death.
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