Pennsylvania Court Rules Against Board of Public Education in Teacher’s Mesothelioma Lawsuit

Mesothelioma victims whose asbestos exposure came after having worked for a government agency often face legal challenges based on the theory of governmental immunity. But the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania denied that defense in a notable case involving a teacher who died of mesothelioma. The three-judge panel unanimously decided that the Pittsburgh School District’s Board of Education could be held liable for her illness and death.

Math Teacher Died of Malignant Mesothelioma

Fifty-five years after math teacher Marianne M. Geier was exposed to asbestos at South High School in Pittsburgh, she was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, and died shortly thereafter. Before her death she provided deposition testimony about the 1958-1959 school year and the steam pipe that was located in her classroom.

After her mesothelioma diagnosis, Mrs. Geier remembered that the pipe in her classroom was covered with asbestos insulation. She also recalled that there were frequently bags of asbestos in the hallway outside of her room in order for repairs to be made to the pipe. She recalled the dust being heavy while repairs were being made, and also remembered seeing asbestos dust coating other common areas within the school building.

Mesothelioma Lawsuit Named Asbestos Companies and Government Agency

In addition to filing claims against dozens of asbestos companies responsible for the carcinogen that caused her mesothelioma, Mrs. Geier named the school district in her claim. In response, the Board of Education filed a motion for summary judgment on the basis of government immunity.

In their review of the case, the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania referred to a 2013 ruling by the state’s supreme court which had established that a government agency could be held legally responsible in certain exceptional situations. In the math teacher’s case, one of those exceptions was clearly present: There was a dangerous condition on her employer’s property that substantially contributed to her illness and death. The court’s ruling read in part, “We hold that a public employer has a common-law duty to create reasonably safe conditions of employment, including the maintaining of safe structures.”

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger

Writer

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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