Vessel Owner Can’t Escape Mesothelioma Widow’s Lawsuit

For decades, shipyards, parts manufacturers, ship owners, and others have been aware that exposure to asbestos causes malignant mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer, asbestosis, and other diseases. Yet despite this knowledge, these companies continued to use the material, and failed to warn or provide protection to the unknowing workers who were at risk. Countless people have been sickened and have died of these deadly diseases. Many have fought back and sought compensation for the damage they’ve suffered, including Patricia Hotard, the widow of a shipyard worker who died of mesothelioma.

ship construction

Shipyard Worker’s Mesothelioma Blamed on Asbestos Contamination of Vessel

When Paul Hotard went to work for Avondale Shipyards, he never dreamed that he’d die as a result of his job handing pipe to pipefitters and tacking pipe together for a welder to weld. After all, he never worked directly with asbestos. Yet this simple act took place within the asbestos-contaminated walls of ships owned by SeaRiver Maritime, and Mr. Hotard spent years breathing in the carcinogenic dust.

When Hotard and his wife realized that his workplace environment had been contaminated with asbestos, and had led to his malignant mesothelioma, they filed suit against the shipowner,  and though Paul died, his wife proceeded with the case, accusing the company of negligence and strict liability. SeaRiver Maritime promptly responded with a petition to have the case against them dismissed.

Judge Rejects Company’s Argument Against Liability for Mesothelioma

In their argument against being held liable for Mr. Hotard’s mesothelioma, the vessel owner argued that they had no duty to warn him of the dangers of his work environment because they did not have legal control. They asserted that all responsibility rested with Avondale, his employer. But the widow countered by noting that the ships had been designed to SeaRiver’s specifications, including asbestos materials, and that because they were aware of this and the dangers, they had a duty to warn. She also pointed out that the ships had officially been delivered to the company’s custody and control during the time that her late husband had been working on them.

In keeping with the rules regarding summary judgment and the evidence presented by the mesothelioma widow, the judge hearing the case denied the company’s petition and allowed the case to move forward for a jury to decide the facts.

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Paul Danziger

Paul Danziger

Reviewer and Editor

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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