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Pennsylvania Court Rules School Board Can Be Held Liable for Teacher’s Mesothelioma

When a person is diagnosed with mesothelioma, they are generally able to pursue a lawsuit against those who are responsible for having exposed them to asbestos, but for those who work for local agencies, this is not always the case. There have been many instances where these victims have been precluded from suing their employer because they are government agencies, and deemed immune from this type of litigation. But a recent ruling made by the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania has opened the door for school district employees and others to get the justice they deserve.

The case involved a long-time math teacher in the School District of Pittsburgh. Because so many of America’s schools were constructed using asbestos insulation, floor tiling and ceiling tiles, teachers and other employees are often diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease. This is particularly true of those who worked in school environments before asbestos’ dangers were widely known. The Pennsylvania court heard the case of Marianne M. Geier, who worked for the Pittsburgh school district as a teacher from the fall of 1958 through the summer of 1959. She was exposed to asbestos dust from a variety of sources, including the insulation for water pipes located in the hallways, stairways and classrooms. Geier was diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2013 and later died of the disease. Her estate filed a lawsuit against a number of defendants, including the school district but the district filed a motion for summary judgment based on government immunity.

Upon review of the case and the legal precedent established by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court in 2013 in a case involving asbestos exposure and the Workers’ Compensation Act, the three-judge panel struck down the school district’s motion, indicating that the school district had a common-law duty as Mrs. Geier’s employer to protect her from being exposed to asbestos. They indicated that her claims fell within the real property and utility service facilities exceptions to the Tort Claims Act and that the exposure did contribute to her mesothelioma and death. This case is likely to prove extremely meaningful and beneficial for other victims of asbestos exposure who have been diagnosed with mesothelioma while working for a local agency.

Making sure that you understand your rights and all of the resources that are available to you is our mission at Mesothelioma.net. For more information, contact our Patient Advocates at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer is an independent writer, editor and proofreader. She graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English. Her dreams of a writing career were diverted by a need to pay her bills. She spent a few years providing copy for a major retailer, then landed a lucrative career in advertising sales. With college bills for all three of her kids paid, she left corporate America for a return to her original goal of writing. She specializes in providing content for websites and finds tremendous enjoyment in the things she learns while doing her research. Her specific areas of interest include health and fitness, medical research, and the law.

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