Question of Law Decided in Mesothelioma Widow’s Favor

Before Arnold Pritt’s death, he and his wife initiated legal action against the companies they blamed for his illness, and after he died Ruth Pritt filed to amend the original claim to one for wrongful death and to add a claim of punitive damages. Defendant John Crane filed an objection, arguing that the compensation she sought was not available under maritime law, but the judge hearing the case denied their objection, pointing to both precedent and the underlying values of the written law.

maritime law

Mesothelioma Victim Was a Navy Veteran

Mr. Pritt and his wife blamed his malignant mesothelioma on exposure to asbestos that he suffered during his years of U.S. Navy service.  They filed their claim in Massachusetts under general maritime law rather than the Jones Act or the Death on the High Seas Act (DOHSA). But when Mrs. Pritt applied to add wrongful death and punitive damages claims to the original complaint after Mr. Pritt’s death, John Crane argued that the amendments would be struck down because neither of those claims were recoverable.

In her response, the mesothelioma widow addressed the company’s arguments, pointing out that the Jones Act that the company referenced did not apply to her claim because Arnold had not been employed by the company, and that the Death on the High Seas Act was not applicable either because of the law’s specifics. She asserted that in cases where neither law applies, state laws prevail, and that was the law that she was relying upon.

Judge Agrees with Mesothelioma’s Widow

Magistrate Judge Marianne B. Bowler is overseeing the case, and upon review of maritime law, she agreed with the mesothelioma widow. She pointed to several precedential cases in which maritime law has allowed both punitive damages and consortium and wrongful death claims. She also made a point of noting the Supreme Court’s previous writings on the intention of maritime law, which is “humane and liberal.” She wrote that precedent points to the law finding it better “to give than to withhold the remedy when not required to withhold it.” The widow’s amendments were allowed.

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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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