Workers' Compensation: Workplace Illness

A federal court has made a ruling in a Pennsylvania woman's ongoing legal battle over the effects of her exposure to asbestos. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania has struck down one of her claims, but another remains for further adjudication.

The woman in question is a former employee of Boeing Vertol at its facility in Ridley Park. The facility had asbestos on premises, which has been linked to mesothelioma. She has sued her former employer with allegations that she contracted mesothelioma from laundering the clothing that her husband wore to work at the facility and that her own presence at the facility working as a secretary was another cause.

No specific law exists regarding liability to an employee's spouse in cases such as this. The judge, after looking at precedent from the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, decided whether the case could move forward on the claim that Boeing is liable for the asbestos on the woman's husband's clothes. The judge dismissed this claim after determining that the woman did not allege that Boeing should have known that there would be a risk of exposure and weighing the possibility of additional lawsuits for anyone who had come into contact with the husband. The woman's other claim for direct exposure due to working at the facility, however, survives.

In cases where an occupational disease or Workplace Illness is believed to have caused serious injury to a person, an attorney could assess the employee's medical records and the injury's connection to the person's employment. If the employer's gross negligence caused the injury, such as knowingly providing unsafe working conditions, the attorney may bring a lawsuit on behalf of the employee for compensation for damages, such as lost wages from a short-term or long-term inability to work.

Source: The Pennsylvania Record, "Robreno denies 'take-home exposure' claim in asbestos suit", Jim Boyle, September 03, 2014

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