Pennsylvania Court Decision Could Impact Future Mesothelioma Cases

People who have been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma are confronted with many difficult decisions, and one is whether or not to pursue justice against those responsible for exposing them to asbestos. Those who choose litigation can realize enormous financial outcomes that secure their family’s economic future, but do so knowing that the process can be tumultuous, with many ups and downs. A recent decision by the Pennsylvania Superior Court may have a big impact on the future of litigation, as the justices ruled that incomplete depositions cannot be used against those pursuing compensation.

Asbestos Company Tried to Use Mesothelioma Victim’s Death to Stop Lawsuit

The case that the Superior Court ruled on involved mesothelioma victim Nicholas J. Kardos, who died of the disease just days after participating in a deposition in his case. Among those companies named in Mr. Kardos’ lawsuit (and later in the case continued by his wife, Joyce E. Kardos) was Armstrong Pumps. 

The asbestos company had filed a motion for summary judgment in the case based on the fact that Mr. Kardos had not completed his deposition, as they had not cross-examined him. Though a trial judge had ruled in the company’s favor, the Superior Court reversed that decision, effectively putting an end to a common defense strategy of delaying court proceedings in hopes that the plaintiff or witness would not be available to provide testimony in the future due to the terminal nature of the disease.

Court’s Order Indicates that Defendants Should Cross Examine When they Have the Opportunity

When Mr. Kardos gave his deposition, numerous defendants took the opportunity to cross examine him, but others who were present did not, and also did not move to add on or schedule an additional deposition day. Still, when Mr. Kardos died of his mesothelioma about a week later, those companies than filed a motion for summary judgment arguing that his testimony and affidavit could not be used because they had not had the chance to ask questions. 

The court not only ruled that “depositions are sufficient lawful proceedings, which warrant admission at trial when the deponent is unavailable and cannot testify,” but went on to point out that some of the same defendants that were arguing against the admissibility of Kardos’ testimony due to lack of cross examination were in fact present and did not cross-examine him or seek another opportunity.

Pursuing justice while also fighting a fatal disease like mesothelioma is an enormous challenge, but this latest court ruling provides a significant boost to parity within court proceedings. For information about other advantages and 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.

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