Lower Court’s Assertion of Speculation in Mesothelioma Claim Rejected by Appeals Court

After remembering men in “moon suits” having conducted asbestos remediation work in the same buildings where he worked as a mechanical engineer, mesothelioma victim Frank Williams Jr. filed suit against Lockheed Martin and others, including The Boeing Company. Boeing’s motion for summary judgment was granted by a federal judge, but that decision was later overturned by the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which said that the lower court calling the claim “impermissibly speculative” was incorrect and that the case should move forward.

Boeing Company

Engineer’s Mesothelioma Death Blamed on Asbestos Remediation Work

The mesothelioma lawsuit that Mr. Williams filed was supported by expert witness testimony regarding “above-average ambient background levels of asbestos” in the buildings where he worked. Boeing had maintained custody of the buildings, while other named defendants had supplied the asbestos insulation that was being removed. While the remediation workers were protected against inhaling asbestos, Mr. Williams was not.

In response to the mesothelioma claim, an Eastern District of Pennsylvania federal judge granted Boeing’s petition for the case against them to be dropped, agreeing that it was “impermissibly speculative” to assume the presence of enough asbestos to have sickened Mr. Williams. In its review of the case, the three-judge appeals panel rejected that assertion.

Judges Decide “Reasonable Inference” is Enough for Mesothelioma Claim to Move Forward

Relying on the use of different legal terms and their appropriate use, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the lower court’s decision. Judge Leslie H. Southwick explained that “speculation” was not correctly evoked in the case, and that what was appropriate was to ask where a potentially reasonable inference regarding exposure to the carcinogen could be drawn. Based upon that standard, they agreed with the mesothelioma victim that there was enough evidence for the case to move forward. They also issued instructions permitting discovery to move forward as per the family’s request.

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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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