Mesothelioma Victim’s Case Against General Electric Allowed to Continue

When Fidel Rivera’s began working as an electrician’s apprentice at the age of 18, he never dreamed that it would lead to a fatal diagnosis of malignant pleural mesothelioma. He died soon after that diagnosis, but not before he could file a lawsuit against General Electric, the company that manufactured the asbestos-contaminated products that caused his illness. General Electric filed a motion to dismiss the case, arguing that because he had worked for the company for twenty years he was only entitled to Workers’ Compensation, but the judge dismissed their argument based on the fact that the lawsuit was based on exposure prior to the time when he worked for the company.

General Electric Does Not Deny Their Products Caused Victim’s Mesothelioma

Interestingly, General Electric did not question whether their products were responsible for Mr. River’s mesothelioma diagnosis, or whether they were contaminated with asbestos. Instead, they sought summary judgment and dismissal of the case based on the fact that Mr. Rivera was an employee for approximately twenty years, including two or three years when he continued to be exposed to the company’s asbestos-containing products. 

The company argued that as a former employee, the only remedy that Mr. Rivera’s estate was eligible for is Worker’s Compensation. While they pointed out that he had been covered by two different policies during the course of his employment, the victim’s family pointed out that their claims are only for exposures that occurred in the period prior to when he worked for General Electric, from 1956 through 1975 when he was employed by various contractors as an apprentice and union electrician.

Judge’s Ruling Favors Mesothelioma Victim’s Family

In handing down his ruling on GE’s motion to dismiss, New York Justice of the Supreme Court Manuel J. Mendez agreed that employers are normally shielded from tort liability because Workers’ Compensation Law bars recovery for injuries incurred in the course of employment, but also pointed out that injuries incurred “separately from the course of decedent’s employment, and as a result of GE’s potential negligence are not barred.”

The judge also pointed out that the company did not deny that the victim had never filed a Worker Compensation claim, nor that he had been exposed to asbestos before coming to work for GE from the company’s products.

Workplace exposure to asbestos is the most common cause of malignant mesothelioma. If you have been diagnosed with this rare and fatal form of cancer and you need information about the resources available to you, contact the Patient Advocates at 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.

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