Most people in South Carolina know dangerous exposure to asbestos can be. A wrongful death lawsuit filed in another state after a former member of the Navy died of mesothelioma that was allegedly caused by asbestos exposure will proceed after the supreme court of another state overturned the trial court's dismissal of the case. The defendant, a shipbuilding yard, had previously claimed that the deceased man's widow could not sue under the law, but the supreme court sided with the widow.
The man was a member of the Navy in 1965 when he was assigned to test systems on the nuclear submarine the U.S.S. Lewis and Clark prior to its launch. While working at the shipyard for six months, the wrongful death suit contends, he was exposed to asbestos. By 2008, he had been diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, a deadly and difficult to treat form of cancer that is commonly associated with asbestos.
The man filed sued the shipbuilder under the state's workers' compensation law. But he died before the suit could be resolved. His widow proceeded with the suit, but amended it to sue under a different law.
The shipbuilder moved to dismiss the lawsuit based on that change. It argued that the workers' compensation law prohibited suits of this type from being filed under any other state law. The trial judge agreed and dismissed the suit. The widow appealed and the case reached the state supreme court.
The top court sided with the plaintiff. It found that the shipbuilder's interpretation of the statute was inaccurate and ordered the case to proceed.
Source: Legal Newsline, "Va. SC: Asbestos victim's estate can sue shipbuilder," Nathan Bass, Nov. 8, 2012