Navy Veteran’s Family’s Mesothelioma Case Against Asbestos Company Can Proceed

When someone you love has been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and you decide to pursue justice through the legal system, it’s essential that you work with advocates who understand the law. A recent case filed by the family of a U.S. Navy veteran makes this point very clear: because the family filed their claim in federal rather than state court, they avoided having their case dismissed.

Navy ship

Veteran’s Mesothelioma Death Blamed on Asbestos on Navy Ships

The mesothelioma lawsuit was initially filed by Roberto Elorreaga and then was continued by his family after his death in 2021. Mr. Elorreaga had worked aboard U.S. Naval vessels and in Naval shipyards. He blamed several manufacturers of parts and equipment onboard those vessels for having negligently exposed him to asbestos, and he filed suit against them in federal court.

In response to the mesothelioma lawsuit, the asbestos companies argued that the case should be dismissed because they could not be held responsible for conforming to the specifications of the U.S. government. This defense is known as the government contractor defense, and, as the court pointed out, it boils down to “the Government made me do it.” However, Mr. Elorreaga’s family argued that this defense is only available for claims made in state court, and not to claims like theirs, which was filed under federal maritime law. The judges of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California agreed and denied the asbestos companies’ motion for summary judgment.

Asbestos Companies Also Claim Insufficient Proof of their Role in Causing Man’s Mesothelioma

The asbestos companies also argued that the mesothelioma victim had not provided sufficient proof that their products had caused his deadly illness. In response, the judges pointed to evidence that the Navy veteran had provided against each of the defendants. This largely consisted of either his memories of having worked with their products or information provided by others familiar with the companies’ products, agreeing that they contained asbestos.

In response to the asbestos companies’ arguments, the court noted that the mesothelioma victim was only required to demonstrate “substantial exposure to the relevant asbestos for a substantial period of time.” This is largely due to the ‘inherent practical difficulties, given the long latency period of asbestos-related disease’ in establishing causation from work performed several decades ago.’  They determined that the victim had provided sufficient evidence against each of the companies, and the case will move forward for a jury to hear.

If you or someone you love has been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, the Patient Advocates sat can help you understand your rights and best path forward. For more information, contact 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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