In an important victory for literally tens of thousands of asbestos disease victims, the California Supreme Court concluded that those who previously filed suit for non-fatal asbestos-related breathing disorders are not barred from filing a second lawsuit if and when they are diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-caused illness. )Hamilton v. Asbestos Corporation, Ltd. (2000) 22 Cal. 4th 1127, 2000 WL 576190)
This decision reversed a lower court’s judgment that prohibited former shipyard worker Arthur Mitchell from recovering damages for his mesothelioma—even though Mr. Mitchell filed his lawsuit within one month of being diagnosed with mesothelioma. The lower court argued that Mr. Mitchell’s mesothelioma lawsuit was barred because he previously filed suit for non-terminal asbestosis with which he was diagnosed in 1979.
The California Supreme Court concluded that the relevant statute of limitations means what it says, so that asbestos disease claims are not time-barred unless they are filed more than one year after the victim is unable to work in his or her regular occupation because of the asbestos-caused illness.
Kazan Law partner James L. Oberman was responsible for the briefing in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court that resulted in this landmark decision.