Filing a Claim in Pennsylvania
Between 1998 and 2000, Pennsylvania was among the top five states for asbestos lawsuit filings which include personal injury lawsuits, wrongful death lawsuits and trust fund claims. According to a recent KCIC industry report, Philadelphia was in the top 10 jurisdictions for mesothelioma lawsuits in 2019.
Widespread use of asbestos in Pennsylvania’s shipyards, refineries, power plants, steel mills and mining operations placed workers at high risk for developing asbestos-related diseases.
Veterans in Pennsylvania have been diagnosed with mesothelioma as a result of exposure that occurred in the state’s shipyards and military bases. They may file a VA claim for benefits, and they have access to VA health care in the state.
Pennsylvania law has a statute of limitations that sets deadlines for filing mesothelioma claims. A qualified Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyer can explain how these deadlines impact your individual case.
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Asbestos Exposure in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania ranks No. 3 in the U.S. for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. The state’s high ranking is largely attributed to its naturally occurring asbestos deposits and its industrial history.
There are 37 asbestos deposits located in the eastern and southeastern regions of the state. Four asbestos mines operated in these areas in the early 1900s mining amphibole asbestos fibers.
Products containing asbestos were used in the construction and operation of many factories, plants and other industrial job sites throughout Pennsylvania.
Asbestos was also used in the construction of schools throughout the state. Approximately 11 schools in Philadelphia were shut down during the 2019-20 school year to remediate damaged asbestos products.
Pennsylvania Industries Known for Asbestos Exposure
Ambler: The Asbestos Manufacturing Capital of the World
The town of Ambler, Pennsylvania, was considered the asbestos manufacturing capital of the world for three-quarters of a century.
The first asbestos manufacturing plant in Ambler opened in 1896 and the last one closed down in 1987. Asbestos waste contaminated the town and residents now suffer with high rates of mesothelioma.
Two sites in Ambler, which is located in Delaware County, were added to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list: The BoRit Asbestos Site and Ambler Asbestos Piles.
According to a 2006 study by the International Journal of Occupational Environmental Health, some of the country’s highest occurrences of malignant mesothelioma are concentrated in Delaware County, Pennsylvania.
Outside of Ambler, data from the federal Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry shows that workers at job sites in Ellwood City and New Castle, Pennsylvania, experienced dangerous levels of asbestos exposure. Communities surrounding these facilities have become concerned about the health risks.Learn More About Asbestos Exposure in Pennsylvania
Law Firms Practicing in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania residents with mesothelioma should consider a nationwide mesothelioma law firm because their vast experience and reach can’t be matched.
Firms that practice nationwide have tried cases in practically every state. They have firsthand experience in taking on large asbestos corporations that are liable for exposing you or a loved one to asbestos.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Law Firms
Weitz & Luxenburg
Cooney & Conway
Simmons Hanly Conroy
Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman
Several nationwide mesothelioma law firms have office locations in or near Pennsylvania:
Cooney & Conway has an office in Philadelphia.
Nemeroff Law has an office in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.
Weitz & Luxenburg has an office just outside of Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
Additionally, Simmons Hanly Conroy has an office in New York City, which is a reasonable drive for residents in eastern Pennsylvania.
One of the perks of going with a nationwide firm is that they will come to you if you can’t travel to one of their offices. These firms travel all over the country to meet their client’s needs, and they won’t charge you for their travel expenses.
If your family would benefit from compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages and other financial concerns, then it’s in your best interest to hire a top mesothelioma attorney. These attorneys have the experience to take on greedy and negligent companies to get the maximum compensation for your case in Pennsylvania.
Asbestos Verdicts Awarded to Pennsylvania Workers
$1.7 Million in 2016: A Philadelphia jury awarded $1.7 million to the widow and estate of a man who died of mesothelioma after working with asbestos products from 1962 to 2001.
$1 Million in 2016: A Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a $1 million verdict for a man who claimed his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos in Ford Motor Co. brake pads.
$4.8 Million in 2015: An appeals court in Pennsylvania affirmed a combined $4.8 million verdict for two women who filed lawsuits because their husbands died of mesothelioma after occupational exposure to asbestos.
$2.3 Million in 2012: A Pennsylvania jury awarded $2.3 million to the widow of a sheet metal worker and mechanic who developed mesothelioma after working with asbestos products throughout his career.
$14.5 Million in 2011: A Philadelphia jury awarded $14.5 million to the estate of a former asbestos worker who died of mesothelioma. The verdict was later vacated and a new trial was ordered.
$10 Million in 2010: A Philadelphia jury awarded $10 million to a mesothelioma patient who claimed their disease was caused by asbestos products made by Melrath Gasket.
$7 Million in 2008: A Pennsylvania jury awarded $7 million to the estate of a man who died of mesothelioma after working with asbestos products made by several different manufacturers.
These verdicts are among the highest awarded in Pennsylvania, but the vast majority of mesothelioma lawsuits reach a settlement out of court. Mesothelioma law firms regularly secure mesothelioma settlements at more than a million dollars for their clients.
Additionally, experienced law firms can get six-figure payouts from asbestos trust funds for their clients.
Pennsylvania Asbestos Laws and Regulations
Federal and state laws regulate asbestos in Pennsylvania to protect the public from exposure.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection oversees the removal, disposal and transportation of asbestos products. Other departments and laws govern labor laws around the safety of asbestos removal and the management of asbestos lawsuits.
Regulations Governing Asbestos in Pennsylvania
Asbestos Occupations Accreditation and Certification Act: Requires notification of any asbestos abatement project to the state a week in advance.
Penalties Set by Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection: Outlines the monetary fines and criminal penalties for people who fail to meet state regulations governing asbestos removal.
State Departments Overseeing Pennsylvania’s Asbestos Laws
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry
Pennsylvania Laws Affecting Asbestos Lawsuits
Pennsylvania General Assembly Chapter 55: Defines statutes of limitations in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania General Assembly Section 7102: Outlines Pennsylvania’s negligence laws.
A Pennsylvania mesothelioma attorney practicing with a nationwide firm has the training and experience to interpret how these laws impact your case.
Asbestos Litigation Trends in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania courts have established the following procedures and rulings to manage asbestos litigation within the state.
Evidence of Physical Impairment
Pennsylvania state law allows plaintiffs with nonmalignant asbestos-related diseases to file a second lawsuit and recover damages if they later develop an asbestos-related cancer. In Simon v. Pacor, however, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that plaintiffs are not entitled to compensation for asymptomatic pleural thickening without physical impairment.
In other words, pleural thickening alone is not enough to bring a claim for asbestos-related injury in Pennsylvania courts. A plaintiff must also have a symptomatic physical impairment in order commence a lawsuit.
Case Management Orders
Certain procedural rules allow flexibility to facilitate quick resolution of lawsuits. These Case Management Orders are subject to court approval. If the plaintiff or defendant does not offer a Case Management Order, the court sets out its own default order.
For example, the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas has issued a Case Management Order for all asbestos cases that:
Simplified court filings
Created an inactive docket for claimants who do not yet have physical impairments
Established requirements for reactivating inactive cases
Scheduled discovery and trials
Grouped cases for trial based on similarities (e.g., plaintiff’s law firm, work site, disease)
Deferring Punitive Damages
In the late 1980s, Judge Richard Klein of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas observed increases in new asbestos case filings. Meanwhile, asbestos case defendants were increasingly declaring bankruptcy and significantly reducing their settlement payments to plaintiffs.
In response, Judge Klein began a practice of separating and deferring consideration of punitive damages while other damages claims in an asbestos case were resolved.
Punitive damages awards, which aim to discourage future wrongdoing, can increase verdicts substantially. Some judges take a view that limiting punitive damages awards leaves more money available to pay other claimants’ actual damages (e.g. medical bills).
Klein’s decision to defer punitive damages eventually became the practice of the court’s Complex Litigation Center. Since the practice was implemented, the court awarded punitive damages in only one asbestos lawsuit as of 2008. That case was decided under Kentucky law and awarded $25.2 million to three mesothelioma patients.
Recent changes to Pennsylvania law impose several liability on wrongdoers. Several liability is the notion that a person or company is only liable for its portion of harm or damages and no more. The essential concept is that liability can be shared.
Under this theory, a defendant’s liability is limited to the portion of harm allocated to it at trial. Often, plaintiffs file a claim against multiple asbestos companies. Levels of blame, if appropriate, can be assigned to each defendant after a trial or in a settlement agreement.
For claimants who knew or should have known about their asbestos injuries prior to June 28, 2011, Pennsylvania recognizes joint and several liability. Under the theory of joint and several liability, plaintiffs can recover an entire judgment against any one defendant.
Successor liability is the notion that after a merger or takeover, the new company inherits the obligations of the previous entity.
If Company A buys Company B, and Company B is found to be liable in a future claim, Company A must accept that liability. Pennsylvania law limits the extent to which successor companies are responsible for asbestos liabilities acquired from another company.
13 Cited Article Sources
The sources on all content featured in The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com include medical and scientific studies, peer-reviewed studies and other research documents from reputable organizations.
Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. (2020). Asbestos Information.
Retrieved from: https://www.dep.pa.gov/Business/Air/BAQ/BusinessTopics/Pages/Asbestos.aspx
Winberg, M. Philly school asbestos problem: What’s closed, what’s open and what’s being done. (2020).
Retrieved from: https://billypenn.com/2020/02/19/philly-school-asbestos-problem-whats-closed-whats-open-and-whats-being-done/
KCIC. (2019, February). Update on Asbestos Filings.
Retrieved from: https://www.eli.org/sites/default/files/media/20-02-19-/2-19-20-potterppt.pdf
Field, E. (2016, November 22). Pa. High Court Upholds $1M Ford Asbestos Verdict.
Retrieved from: https://www.law360.com/articles/865532/pa-high-court-upholds-1m-ford-asbestos-verdict
Relny, S. (2015, June 24). Living in the Town Asbestos Built.
Retrieved from: https://www.sciencehistory.org/distillations/living-in-the-town-asbestos-built
Greene, K. (2015, April 17). Pa. Appeals Court Affirms $4.8M In Asbestos Verdicts.
Retrieved from: https://www.law360.com/articles/644851/pa-appeals-court-affirms-4-8m-in-asbestos-verdicts
Dixon, L. and McGovern, G. (2011). Asbestos Bankruptcy Trusts and Tort Compensation.
Retrieved from: http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2011/RAND_MG1104.sum.pdf
ATSDR. (2007). Naturally Occurring Asbestos Locations in the Contiguous USA and Alaska and the 100 Fastest Growing U.S. Counties.
Retrieved from: https://www.fs.usda.gov/Internet/FSE_DOCUMENTS/stelprdb5126451.pdf
USGS. (2006). Reported Historic Asbestos Mines, Historic Asbestos Prospects, and Natural Asbestos Occurrences in the Eastern United States.
Retrieved from: https://pubs.usgs.gov/of/2005/1189/pdf/Plate.pdf
Schmitt, C. and Aldebron, J. (2006, February). Asbestos Cases In the Courts: No Logjam.
Retrieved from: http://www.policyarchive.org/handle/10207/bitstreams/10865.pdf
Carroll, S.J. et al. (2005). Asbestos Litigation.
Retrieved from: http://www.rand.org/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG162.pdf
Pennsylvania General Assembly. (n.d.). Section 7102: Comparative Negligence.
Retrieved from: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/42/00.071.002.000..HTM
Pennsylvania General Assembly. (n.d.). Chapter 55: Limitation of Time.
Retrieved from: https://www.legis.state.pa.us/WU01/LI/LI/CT/HTM/42/00.055..HTM
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Last Modified March 22, 2020