A settlement was reached this week in the mesothelioma lawsuit filed by a Philadelphia widow on behalf of her late husband, who passed away in 2012 after battling malignant mesothelioma.
According to court documents, Thomas N. Checho’s widow, Rosemary T. Checho, filed the mesothelioma lawsuit after her husband, who worked over 35 years as an operator of hot metal typesetting machines, succumbed to mesothelioma due to excessive exposure to asbestos while at work. Rosemary Checho’s attorney was not only seeking economic and non-economic damages for the widow, but also punitive damages. Only two weeks after the plaintiff’s attorney sought punitive damages, however, the defense agreed to a settlement.
Although there has been much debate regarding punitive damages in Pennsylvania, the fact that evidence suggests that there was extreme negligent and reckless behavior that led to Thomas Checho’s death should be enough to seek punitive damages. Before a settlement was agreed upon, the plaintiff’s attorney went on to say that was substantial evidence and witness testimony that would prove “willful, wanton and/or reckless conduct” on the part of the defendants, specifically regarding the defendants associated with the manufacture of the hot metal typesetting machines that Thomas Checo worked on for more than three decades.
Although the defendants argued the plaintiff’s attorney’s action to seek punitive damage, the attorney argued that not allowing punitive damages in the case is a violation of Article I, Section 18 of the Pennsylvania Constitution, which specifically states that placing limitations on damages is prohibited, with the exception being workers’ compensation cases.
In addition, in 2011, Philadelphia administrative judge Judge John W. Herron reversed previous rules which mandated that punitive damages were “reverse bifurcated,” which meant that they couldn’t be deferred or consolidated with cases that were similar.
“Since asbestos trials in Philadelphia are no longer reverse bifurcated, the rationale for the deferral of punitive damages claims no longer exists, then the punitive damages claim should be submitted to the jury. Preventing Plaintiff from presenting decedent’s punitive damages claim to the jury is a violation of her right to due process of law,” Rosemary Checo’s attorney stated.
An issue that closely resembles Rosemary Checo’s case recently surfaced in New York City. Since punitive damages were allowed in every other court New York State court except for the New York City court, State Supreme Court Justice Sherry Klein Heitler ruled that punitive damages would be allowed in a mesothelioma lawsuit that took place in her court as well.
Rosemary Checo’s settlement amount remains disclosed, but the case gives hopes to others as it holds companies liable for negligent behavior. In fact, if you’ve been a victim of asbestos yourself or your loved one have succumbed to its dangers, you have the legal right to file suit against the responsible parties. It’s crucial to retain an experienced mesothelioma lawyer in order to have the best chances in proving your case. To get started and for a free case consultation, contact our leading mesothelioma law firm today.