Abrams v. Pneumo Abex Corp., et al.
Pennsylvanians who filed claims for nonmalignant asbestos disease prior to 1992 and are now suffering from an asbestos-related cancer have the right to file new claims based on their new diagnosis.
Before 1992, Pennsylvania law required any person injured by asbestos exposure to file one single lawsuit to seek to recover any and all damages related to his asbestos injury, including damages for fear of developing cancer in the future. If the worker did, in fact, develop asbestos-related cancer at a later time, he was not permitted to file a second new action to recover damages for that new injury.
This changed when the Pennsylvania Superior Court decided the case of Marinari v. Asbestos Corporation, Ltd., 612 A.2d 1021 (Pa. Super. 1992), making Pennsylvania a “two-disease” state. After Marinari, victims of nonmalignant asbestos disease were entitled to file new and separate actions if they were unfortunate enough to develop an asbestos-related cancer. The trade-off was that people making claims for nonmalignant asbestos disease were no longer permitted to recover damages for their “fears” of developing asbestos-related cancers.
The question that remained unanswered was what effect the Marinari decision had on people who had filed lawsuits for asbestosis or pleural thickening before 1992, but then developed asbestos-related cancers after 1992. Attorneys for the asbestos companies argued that an individual did not have the right to recover for his asbestos-related cancer because he had already filed the one case that the prior law allowed and already recovered money for his fear of getting cancer. Attorneys for the injured workers argued that having to live with the “fear” of being at an increased risk of developing cancer is a very different injury from what a person suffers from when they actually have cancer.
In the Abrams case, recently decided on October 21, 2009, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court agreed with the counsel for the injured workers. It is now the law throughout Pennsylvania that people who filed a case for a nonmalignant asbestos disease before 1992 now have the right to file a new second claim against different defendants, if they were diagnosed with an asbestos-related cancer after 1992.
If you or your loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, lung cancer, colon cancer, esophageal cancer, or laryngeal cancer, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover for that injury even though you have already recovered asbestos benefits in the past for your previously existing, non-malignant asbestos disease. Don’t lose out on your ability to recover additional proceeds for your injury.