Print Shop Employee’s Mesothelioma Blamed on Asbestos in Linotype Machine

Print shop maintenance is not likely to be found on a list of dangerous occupations, yet it is the equipment involved in the job that Thomas Pearson’s family blames for his malignant mesothelioma death. Mr. Pearson died of the rare asbestos-related disease at the age of 72 after years of cleaning and repairing the Linotype machine at the Vermont Standard newspaper. His family filed suit against Heidelberg USA, claiming that asbestos in their Mergenthaler Model 8 Linotype machine led to his illness. Though the company filed to have the case dismissed, the Delaware Supreme Court denied the motion, allowing the case to move forward for a jury to hear.

Twenty-Four Years of Print Shop Maintenance Led to Malignant Mesothelioma

According to a claim filed by the victim’s widow Donna, Mr. Pearson’s mesothelioma was diagnosed after he’d spent 24 years working at Vermont’s oldest weekly newspaper. He started as a part-time apprentice when he was just 17 years old, learning to operate and maintain a Mergenthaler Model 8 Linotype machine that he continued working on throughout his career. 

The mesothelioma lawsuit cites asbestos dust created during various aspects of maintaining the machine as the cause of his mesothelioma. His claim describes his duties in detail, including rubbing an asbestos cleaning tool across the machine’s mouthpiece, scraping out old asbestos and mixing new asbestos with water to pack into the mouthpiece, and sweeping dust and shavings that accumulated under the machine every night. Each of these actions led to inhalation of toxic fibers.

Court Denies Motion to Dismiss Filed by Linotype Company

Heidelberg USA argued that the case should be dismissed on several grounds, including there being no proof that their machine had caused Mr. Pearson’s mesothelioma, that too much time had passed since his exposure and that Mr. Pearson had not maintained the machine correctly, but the court denied all of those claims in keeping with Vermont law. They did, however, dismiss the claim that the company had behaved willfully and wantonly, which eliminated the widow’s ability to pursue punitive damages in the case.

If you or someone you love is at risk of mesothelioma, the Patient Advocates at can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608 for more information.

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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