Virginia Vet’s Claim Illustrates Complexity of Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Every lawsuit is unique, but pursuing a personal injury claim accusing a company of causing malignant mesothelioma is particularly complex, and especially when the victim is a Navy veteran. This is because most Navy veterans were exposed to asbestos while working onboard ships, thus raising the question of whether each case should be pursued under federal law or maritime law. A recent case illustrates the importance of working with attorneys who understand which laws apply.

Navy Vet with Mesothelioma Seeks Justice from John Crane, Inc.

The mesothelioma lawsuit filed by Navy veteran Herbert H. Mullinex cited both federal and maritime law, with the latter encompassing an entirely unique set of rules governing injuries that occur on navigable waters. Mullinex attributes his asbestos exposure to years doing shipbuilding and repairs on several ships, and names John Crane, Inc. as a defendant. Instead of arguing causation or the presence of asbestos in their products, the company chose to file a motion to dismiss the use of maritime law, arguing that because the ships that Mullinex served on were in dry dock when he worked on them, only Virginia law should apply.

Federal Court Denies Asbestos Company’s Motion

In reviewing the asbestos company’s argument in the mesothelioma lawsuit, the U.S. District Court in the Eastern District of Virginia decided that whether the ships that Mr. Mullinex worked on were at sea or docked was immaterial to his case. What was most important was that he was exposed to asbestos and that the vast majority of his exposure occurred on vessels on navigable waters. As a result, they determined that maritime law applies and the asbestos company’s motion was denied.

Court Addresses Role of Asbestos-Containing Products in Navy Ships

One of the more notable aspects of the Virginia court’s decision was its rejection of John Crane’s argument that their mesothelioma-causing products were not necessary for naval operations. The court rejected that assertion, writing, “While it is true that “asbestos work” in general is not inherently related to the traditional application of admiralty law, the sale of an asbestos-containing product geared toward the proper functioning of Navy ships places the Plaintiffs’ allegations squarely in a context that interests admiralty law.” This decision is likely to be used to support the use of maritime law in future mesothelioma claims.

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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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