Asbestos Companies Argue that Mesothelioma Wasn’t Single Cause of Death

Kirk Reulet was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma after spending 45 years working as a welder. He died in 2019. When his widow Joanne filed a wrongful death and survival claim against the companies that exposed him to asbestos, they argued that mesothelioma had not been the single cause of his death. This forced the widow to go to court be able to continue pursuing her claim against them.


Medical Experts from Both Sides Agree that Victim had Mesothelioma

Mr. Reulet was diagnosed with malignant peritoneal mesothelioma just two weeks before his death. Testimony confirming his diagnosis was provided by both his treating oncologist and pulmonologist, as well as by physicians representing the asbestos companies. His official Texas Death Certificate noted “diseases, injuries, or complications … that directly caused the death” as septic shock, aspiration pneumonia, multi-organ failure, and peritoneal mesothelioma.

Despite this assessment, the asbestos companies asked that the widow’s case be dismissed because she could not prove that mesothelioma was the single or sole cause of his death. They did not deny that he had the rare asbestos-related disease, or even that their contaminated products, parts, or work environment had contributed to his disease. Rather they said that he had died from the conditions caused by his diagnostic testing for the disease, and that they could therefore not be held responsible.

Judge Denies Asbestos Companies’ Attempt to Evade Responsibility for Mesothelioma

In her review of the case, U.S. District Court judge Briana Jackson permitted Mrs. Reulet’s wrongful death and survival action to proceed against the companies who she claimed played a role in causing his exposure to asbestos and subsequent death.  The judge explained that the companies’ petition to have the case dismissed was not supported by Louisiana law. The law does not require a plaintiff in an asbestos case to prove that mesothelioma was the sole cause of death; rather, the plaintiff only needs to show that it was a substantial factor resulting in the death.

Based on this, the judge noted that experts for both the widow and the asbestos companies agreed that Mr. Reulet had died from complications of mesothelioma and that he would not have died but for the disease or for diagnostic tests necessitated by the disease. The widow will be able to continue her quest for justice.

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger


Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.

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