Delaware Asbestos Lawsuit Proceeds After Two-Disease Rule Upheld

A man diagnosed with two different diseases can now move forward with his asbestos lawsuit. Last month, the Delaware Supreme Court confirmed that the statute of limitations in regards to one if his illnesses is still valid.

According to a high court rule, Delaware is a multi-illness state, meaning that if a plaintiff with two separate illnesses, each with a separate diagnosis, files a lawsuit, the statute of limitations that typically pertains to individual cases can be reversed.

In May of 2009, Paul DaBaldo Jr. sued URS Energy & Construction, the Crane Co., Washington Group International, and 16 other defendants. URS was named in the complaint because it purchased Getty Tidewater Oil Refinery, the company where DaBaldo worked for 34 years.

Per the complaint, DaBaldo said that in 1992, he was diagnosed with a mild form of a pleural disease caused by asbestos exposure. Yet, a series of follow-up examinations didn’t find any signs of impaired lung function. DaBaldo was then examined by several physicians between 1999 and 2005, but no changes in his pleural plaque levels were detected.

After one of his colleague was diagnosed with asbestosis in 2007, DaBaldo reached out for legal assistance and was referred to Dr. Orn Eliasson. After examining DaBaldo and analyzing his caked pleural plaques, Dr. Eliasson determined that the plaintiff suffered from calcified pleural plaques, caused by excessive exposure to asbestos. Dr. Eliasson later elaborated his findings and stated the pleural disease was asbestosis. Two years later, DaBaldo sued the defendants at Delaware’s Superior Court, stating that it was their negligent actions that caused asbestosis. However, at this time, he didn’t file a lawsuit for his pleural plaques.

A Delaware court initially ruled against DaBaldo, stating that the plaintiff had filed his complaint after the state’s two-year statute of limitations for asbestos-related cases. The Superior Court judge stated that DaBaldo had waited 15 years to file a suit for asbestosis. DaBaldo’s appeal pointed out that the 1992 diagnosis did not mention asbestosis, and that it wasn’t until 2007 that the term was used to describe his condition.

The defendants claimed that DaBaldo was aware that he had been warned about having an asbestos-related condition in 1992 and that he could not file a complaint after the statute of limitations expired in 2004. However, Justice Randy J. Holland and the Delaware Supreme Court sided with DaBaldo, saying that the Superior Court had erred on the issues of the statute of limitations and the nature of the plaintiff’s medical condition.

“Our analysis of the four factors demonstrates that the statute of limitations on DaBaldo’s asbestosis claim did not begin to run until July 2007, when DaBaldo learned for the first time of his asbestosis.Therefore, his complaint was timely when it was filed on May 5, 2009,” stated Holland.

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease because of the negligence of another party, you have the legal right to seek damages. An experienced asbestos lawyer can help you during these difficult times and assist you in fighting for the justice you’re entitled to. For more information, contact our leading asbestos attorneys today for a free legal consultation.



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