Port Authority of New York Faces Mesothelioma Lawsuit Over JFK’s Pan Am Terminal

Facing a mesothelioma lawsuit filed by a man who’d worked as a Pan Am employee for years, the Port Authority of New York filed a motion for summary judgment that argued they could not be held responsible for multiple reasons. But even though Bernd Hildebrand died less than two months after his diagnosis with the disease and was unable to testify on his own behalf, testimony provided by other witnesses was enough to support his allegations, and Judge Manuel J. Mendez of the Supreme Court of New York County decided that the victim’s Labor Law and common-law negligence claims should move forward and be heard by a jury.

Witnesses Speak on Behalf of Deceased Mesothelioma Victim 

Bernd Hildebrand was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in May 2015 and died on June 25th of the same year. His family claims his exposure to asbestos came during his years working as an employee of Pan American Airlines at the Pan Am Unit Terminal Building at JFK Airport. Though he died before being able to give testimony on his own behalf, other witnesses spoke to the asbestos present in his work environment effectively.

One of those witnesses was Julia Wissell, a co-worker whose own father had also died of malignant mesothelioma. She testified that during the time she worked for Pan Am between 1969 to 1986, the terminal had undergone major renovations. She described the bags of asbestos stacked throughout the terminal, as well as the significant amount of dust that she and Mr. Hildebrand had to walk through on a regular basis. She also spoke movingly of her knowledge of mesothelioma as a result of her father’s illness.

Pan Am Project Manager Speaks to Presence of Asbestos

In addition to Ms. Wissell, a former project manager for Pan Am who had worked at the airport countered the Port Authority’s argument that it was not responsible for the use of asbestos or the way that the carcinogenic material was used. He provided strong testimony about the constant submission of plans to the Port Authority for review and approval, and the presence of Port Authority’s resident engineers at the airport to approve all work. In ruling against the Port Authority and indicating that the mesothelioma claim should move forward to a jury, the judge indicated that there were issues of fact that precluded the case being dismissed.

Many of the organizations responsible for asbestos exposure and malignant mesothelioma are powerful, household names, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t be held responsible for the damage they cause. For more information on how the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help, contact us today at  1-800-692-8608.

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer

Terri Oppenheimer

Terri Heimann Oppenheimer is the head writer of our Mesothelioma.net 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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