Navy Veteran’s Family Blames Mesothelioma Death on Gasket Manufacturer

There was a painfully brief period between when Navy veteran Donald Johnson was told he had malignant mesothelioma and when he succumbed to the disease: Mr. Johnson got confirmation of his diagnosis on July 17th, 2018 and died just one month later, on August 22nd. Though he died too quickly to provide his own testimony against those he held responsible, others who worked alongside him were able to bear witness to his asbestos exposure. A New York court has now ruled that the case will move forward so that his survivors can pursue justice.  

Asbestos Company Files Motion to Dismiss Mesothelioma Lawsuit

When an asbestos company is accused of causing an individual’s death from malignant mesothelioma, they frequently file what is known as a motion to dismiss, arguing that there are insufficient grounds for the case to move forward and asking the court to stop the legal proceeding. In making a decision on whether to grant this request or deny it, the courts weigh whether the company has provided enough evidence to eliminate material issues of fact.

In Mr. Johnson’s case, he died of mesothelioma before he could give deposition testimony about his exposure to asbestos-contaminated products. His survivors located three witnesses that had worked alongside him at the Boston Naval Shipyard, and these witnesses testified on his behalf. They recalled their work environment and their responsibilities from 1966 through 1967, when they replaced McCord and Victor engine gaskets and in doing so created visible asbestos dust.  McCord’s attorneys argued that this testimony was not enough for the case to move forward, and that the victim’s family needed to provide evidence of exposure levels.

Court Rules Against Asbestos Gasket Company’s Motion in Mesothelioma Case

In his decision on the case, Justice of the Supreme Court of New York County Adam Silvera denied the asbestos gasket company’s request, agreeing with Mr. Johnson’s family that in a personal injury litigation the plaintiff is “not required to show the precise cause of his damages, but only facts and conditions from which defendant’s liability can be reasonably inferred.” He points out that the company did nothing to disprove any of the victim’s assertions: They provided no evidence that their product did not create visible asbestos dust, and did not provide expert witnesses against causation. The judge says that the company failed to meet its burden for summary judgment and denied their motion. 

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, it is essential that you know all of your rights and resources. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at at 1-800-692-8608 today.

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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