Earlier this month, a judge presiding over the New York City Asbestos Litigation (NYCAL), Judge Peter H. Moulton, ruled that the company J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. should have known and anticipated that they would face a mesothelioma at least 10 years before the case was brought against them.
In the case of Warren v. AmChem Products, plaintiff Richard Warren, prior to passing away from mesothelioma, filed an asbestos lawsuit against several companies, one of which included J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. Warren asserted that the manufacturing company caused him to develop mesothelioma after working with and around the company’s asbestos-containing products. Warren was mainly exposed to a cement pipe product known as Transite, which was manufactured with an exorbitant amount of asbestos.
During the discovery period of the lawsuit, the plaintiff claimed that J-M was guilty of the “massive destruction of documents” that warned the company numerous years ago about the dangers of asbestos. The manufacturer did indeed lose a number of documents presented to them years ago when they moved their headquarters office to another state. According to the manufacturing company, one of their employees, James Reichert, threw away over 20 boxes of documents during the move. Although the company claimed it was accidental, Judge Moulton thought otherwise.
Reichert admitted that he did throw away many boxes containing documents. When questioned why did so, Reichert explained that,”You just get tired of moving stuff. And after they became (named removed from court documents), there was no more J/M A-C Pipe.”
J-M Manufacturing Company, Inc. is accusation of spoliation, which means “the intentional destruction, mutilation, alteration, or concealment of evidence, usually a document,” according to the 8th edition of Black Law’s Dictionary. J-M had the obligation to keep the documents sent to them regarding asbestos dangers and exposure, but instead the company willingly destroyed the documents in an attempt to get out of future mesothelioma lawsuits.
In 1983, J-M was made aware of pending workers’ compensation claims against them for using asbestos in their products. Although the manufacturing had a “document retention policy,” in which all documents should always be preserved, they didn’t inform their employees and allowed them destroy crucial documentation regarding asbestos dangers, as well as the compensation claims documents. In 1988, J-M ended its cement-pipe selling, and according to court documents, this was done because the company “fully expected to be sued.”
The judge’s decision makes it important for other companies to preserve documents, regardless if they moving to another location or of they regularly discard documents. It also presents an adverse ruling for the defendants who’ve lost their mesothelioma lawsuits in the past due to a company losing or destroying documents that would have shown they knew about the dangers of asbestos exposure.
Additional Help and Resources for Mesothelioma Victims
If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness related to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area.