14 Min Read
Last Updated: 04/12/2024
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Written by Joe Lahav, Esquire | Legally Reviewed By Samuel Meirowitz | Edited By Walter Pacheco

Filing a Mesothelioma Claim in Pennsylvania

People diagnosed with mesothelioma, or their families, can work with a Pennsylvania asbestos attorney to file a personal injury lawsuit, wrongful death lawsuit or trust fund claim. Asbestos was widely used in many Pennsylvania industries such as steel mills, mining operations, power plants, refineries and shipyards leading to high rates of asbestos exposure and asbestos-related diseases. 

Philadelphia, ranks among the top 10 jurisdictions in the country for mesothelioma lawsuits. These claims seek financial compensation to help patients and their loved ones pay for medical bills and other expenses connected with asbestos-related diseases.

42%

The percent rise of mesothelioma filings in Pennsylvania from 2021 to 2022.

Source: KCIC Industry Report, a 2023 review of 2022 data

Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers can assess your claim, the best place to file given the circumstances of your specific case and the type of claim they’ll pursue on your behalf. A statute of limitations applies in Pennsylvania, so it’s important to speak with a qualified attorney as soon as possible to receive the advice and guidance you need to move forward with your claim promptly.

Asbestos Exposure in Pennsylvania

Asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma and Pennsylvania is No.3 in the nation for mesothelioma and asbestosis deaths. In 2020 alone there were 137 reported new cases, which is about 1 in every 100,000 Pennsylvanians. 

asbestos tiles in classroom
Asbestos-containing tiles in a classroom.

Pennsylvania has 37 asbestos deposits and had 4 asbestos mines dedicated to mining amphibole asbestos in the early part of the 1900s. Asbestos products used in construction, military and industrial job sites led to many cases of occupational and military exposure. Asbestos in school construction led to 11 schools closing for remediation during the 2019-2020 school year.

Secondary exposure was also a threat when workers inadvertently brought asbestos fibers home on their clothing, boots or gear, putting their loved ones at risk of asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos has a latency period of 20 to 50 years, so many people weren’t aware of their risk until their need for mesothelioma treatment in Pennsylvania decades later.

Survivor Story
Marian Levin Pleural mesothelioma survivor

Survivor May Have Been Exposed to Asbestos Working in Pennsylvania Schools

Survivor Story

Marian was diagnosed with pleurisy and had fluid around her lungs drained three times. The fourth time led to exploratory surgery and a pleural mesothelioma diagnosis. “I worked in schools where there probably was asbestos. They say it can be up to 70 years after exposure before mesothelioma is diagnosed,” she told The Mesothelioma Center at Asbestos.com.

Read Marian’s Story

Pennsylvania Industries Known for Asbestos Exposure

Many of Pennsylvania’s job industries, from mining to railroad operations to teaching, historically have a high risk of asbestos exposure. Workers in these fields had an increased chance of developing mesothelioma or other diseases as a result of prolonged exposure. 

Some of Pennsylvania’s most widely available jobs used products containing asbestos. It’s also one of the few states in the nation that mined asbestos. While regulations now control asbestos use and handling, people are still diagnosed each year with asbestos-related diseases.

High Asbestos Exposure Industries in PA

Some of the most at-risk occupations were the widespread coal mines across the western part of the state. Philadelphia and Erie were huge centers for Navy shipbuilding until the 1970s. 

Today, Pennsylvania has a number of former job sites known for their asbestos exposure. Cases where employers knowingly put workers or students in danger of asbestos exposure continue to arise. In September 2020, for example, 3 school district officials faced felony charges for child endangerment.

Ambler: The Asbestos Manufacturing Capital of the World

Former Keasbey & Mattison asbestos factory site in Ambler, Pennsylvania
An abandoned building at the former Keasbey & Mattison asbestos factory site in Ambler, Pennsylvania.

Ambler, Pennsylvania, a town located in Delaware County, was once considered the asbestos manufacturing capital of the world. It opened its first plant in 1896 and retained this dubious distinction for three-quarters of a century until the last plant closed down in 1987. 

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Superfund list added two sites in PA: the BoRit Asbestos Site and Ambler Asbestos Piles. The Superfund designation is only for the most serious of hazardous waste sites and enables the use of federal money for cleanup. The EPA completed the cleanup of the Ambler Asbestos Piles Superfund Site on August 30, 1993, and finished remedial work at the BoRit Asbestos Site in 2018. 

Delaware County has some of the highest rates of malignant mesothelioma in the country. Job sites in Ellwood City and New Castle also exposed workers to dangerous levels of asbestos. Today, the communities surrounding these job sites have concerns about the health risks associated with the area.

Danielle DiPietro, Patient Advocate

Partnering with 4 top firms in PA, we can recommend lawyers with records of success who can best help you.

Patient Advocate Danielle DiPietro

Which Pennsylvania Companies Exposed Workers to Asbestos?

Many companies in Pennsylvania, including Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, Alcoa Aluminum and USX Corporation, knew of the danger of asbestos exposure but chose to put profits over the wellbeing of workers. Today, there are known asbestos-exposure job sites across the state.

Asbestos Exposure Job Sites
  • Alcoa Aluminum – Lancaster, PA
  • Bethlehem Steel – Bethlehem, PA
  • Bethlehem Steel Shipyard – Bethlehem, PA
  • Electralloy – Oil City, PA
  • LTV Steel – Pittsburgh, PA
  • Pennsylvania Shipyard – Philadelphia, PA
  • Sun Shipbuilding – Chester, PA
  • USX Corporation – Pittsburgh, PA

Federal and state laws currently regulate asbestos to prevent further exposure. New cases of mesothelioma are expected over the next 15 years as a result of the disease’s long latency period. It can take 20 to 60 years for a patient to exhibit symptoms after initial exposure.

Mesothelioma Law Firms Practicing in Pennsylvania

Some of the top national law firms have Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers practicing in Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and other cities throughout the state. Lawyers with experience litigating in Pennsylvania and who have knowledge of the area’s exposure sites and similar cases can help their clients get justice.

PA Cities With Top Asbestos Law Firms
  • Allentown
  • Altoona
  • Bethlehem
  • Erie
  • Harrisburg
  • Lancaster
  • Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh
  • Reading
  • Scranton

People diagnosed with mesothelioma can also benefit from law firms with both local knowledge and nationwide experience. These firms can try cases in Pennsylvania or help you file in other jurisdictions depending on the details of your case. They have access to helpful resources and firsthand experience taking on large asbestos corporations. 

Top Asbestos Firms Licensed to Practice in Pennsylvania

Some of the top national law firms with office locations in or near Pennsylvania include Cooney & Cooney (Philadelphia), Nemeroff Law (Pittsburgh) and Weitz & Luxenberg (outside Philadelphia in Cherry Hill, New Jersey).

meirowitz & wasserberg logo
1880 John F. Kennedy Blvd. Suite 1720
Philadelphia, PA 19103
  • $50 Million Recovered
  • Serves Clients Nationwide
  • Rated in the Top 10 Asbestos and Mesothelioma Trial Lawyers
Nemeroff Law Firm Logo
437 Grant Street Suite 1301
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
  • $500 Million Recovered
  • Serves Clients Nationwide
  • Rated a “Hall of Fame” law firm by The Legal 500
Weitz and Luxenburg
220 Lake Drive East Suite 210
Cherry Hill, NJ 08002
  • $17 Billion Recovered
  • Serves Clients Nationwide
  • Rated #1 by U.S. News & World Report for 2022
Simmons Hanly Conroy Logo
1 Court Street
Alton, Illinois 62002
  • $8.9 Billion Recovered
  • Serves Clients Nationwide
  • Rated a Tier 1 Law Firm in 2022 by U.S. News & World Report

If you have received a mesothelioma diagnosis, it’s in your best interest to hire a top mesothelioma attorney. An expert lawyer can give you the best chance of obtaining the compensation you need to cover medical bills, lost wages and other expenses related to your disease. 

National Asbestos Law Firms Outside Pennsylvania

Working with Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers from top national asbestos law firms has advantages. Among these is their extensive knowledge, experience and access to extensive resources. 

Nationwide law firms offer to come to you at no cost. Top national law firms include Cooney & Conway, Nemeroff Law, Weitz & Luxenberg and Simmons Hanly Conroy.

Cooney & Conway Logo
120 N Lasalle Street Suite 3000
Chicago, IL 60602
  • $7 Billion Recovered
  • Serves Clients Nationwide
  • Rated a National Tier 1 Firm by U.S. News & World Report in 2022
Galiher DeRobertis & Waxman
820 Mililani Street Suite 505
Honolulu, HI 96813
  • $600 Million Recovered
  • Serves Clients Nationwide
  • 30+ Years Experience

While you may live in PA, if your exposure happened elsewhere or the company responsible has its headquarters elsewhere your lawyer may advise you to file your claim in a state other than Pennsylvania. In these cases, there are benefits to working with a national firm with offices across the country. These attorneys can help you with each step of the process.

Choosing the Best Mesothelioma Attorney in Pennsylvania

Look for a Pennsylvania asbestos lawyer who offers free case reviews and has access to asbestos informational databases, knowledge of compensation options and nationwide availability. Excellent candidates should also have good communication skills and make you feel comfortable discussing the details of your case.

Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers have a track record of success in the state. Ask them to discuss cases they’ve litigated with details similar to yours. Feel free to ask questions and ensure you’re comfortable. 

Asbestos Verdicts Awarded to Pennsylvania Workers

Pennsylvania residents and their family members or estates have received some high verdicts from settlements and court cases. Big awards in the state range from $1 million to $14.5 million.

Large Asbestos Verdicts in Pennsylvania

  • $10 Million: In 2010 a Philadelphia jury awarded $10 million to a mesothelioma patient who claimed Melrath Gasket’s asbestos products caused their disease.
  • $7 Million: In 2008 a Pennsylvania jury awarded $7 million to the estate of a man who died of mesothelioma after working with the asbestos products of several different manufacturers.
  • $4.8 Million: In 2015 an appeals court in Pennsylvania affirmed a combined $4.8 million verdict for 2 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.
  • $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 the Pennsylvania Supreme Court upheld a $1 million verdict for a man who claimed asbestos in Ford Motor Co. brake pads caused his mesothelioma.

It’s common for top asbestos law firms to secure mesothelioma settlements of $1 million or more for clients, but the majority of lawsuits settle out of court. Law firms can also get clients 6-figure payouts from asbestos trust funds.

Pennsylvania Asbestos Laws and Regulations

Current state and federal laws regulate asbestos in Pennsylvania. The departments that oversee Pennsylvania’s asbestos laws are the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry. 

The Department of Environmental Protection oversees the removal, disposal and transportation of asbestos products in the state. It also sets the penalties for failing to meet state regulations regarding asbestos removal.

Key Facts About PA Asbestos Laws
  • Environmental and labor laws at the federal and state level aim to protect residents of Pennsylvania from asbestos exposure.
  • The Asbestos Occupations Accreditation and Certification Act demands notice of any asbestos abatement project a week in advance.
  • People who don’t comply with state regulations can face monetary fines or criminal charges.

The Department of Labor and Industry governs labor laws regarding asbestos removal and the management of asbestos lawsuits. Pennsylvania currently has 2 laws affecting asbestos lawsuits. 

Pennsylvania General Assembly Chapter 55 defines the state’s statute of limitations. Pennsylvania General Assembly Section 7102 outlines the negligence laws. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can explain how these laws impact your case.

Asbestos Litigation Trends in Pennsylvania

The courts in Pennsylvania have an established procedure to manage asbestos litigation. This includes defining who can file a lawsuit, the procedural rules and the deferment of punitive damages. 

Also included is the extent to which a wrongdoer is liable, as well as rules for transferring liability if a company changes hands through a merger or takeover. Pennsylvania mesothelioma lawyers can help you navigate the complex legal system and explain all aspects of your claim, from filing the lawsuit to getting compensation. 

Evidence of Physical Impairment

Pursuing legal action to get compensation for asbestos-related diseases requires a diagnosis and documentation of physical impairment. Most cases are malignant; however, Pennsylvania state law allows plaintiffs with nonmalignant asbestos-related diseases to file a second lawsuit and recover damages if they develop an asbestos-related cancer later on. 

The plaintiff must present evidence of physical impairment to qualify. Asymptomatic pleural thickening alone is not enough to claim an asbestos-related injury. A plaintiff must also experience symptoms of a physical impairment to commence a lawsuit. 

Case Management Orders

Some lawsuits get resolved quickly using certain procedural rules that allow for flexibility, called Case Management Orders. They are subject to court approval and have certain stipulations.

Case Management Order Terms
  • An inactive docket for claimants who do not yet have physical impairments
  • Established requirements for reactivating inactive cases
  • Grouped cases for trial based on similarities such as disease, law firm or work site
  • Scheduled discovery and trials
  • Simplified court filings

If a plaintiff or defendant does not provide a Case Management Order, the court proceeds with its own default order. This may extend the time it takes to reach a resolution. 

Deferring Punitive Damages

Punitive damages aim to discourage future wrongdoing and can substantially increase verdicts. Separating and deferring punitive damages leaves more money for the client’s medical bills and other actual damages. 

Deferring punitive damages became the court’s common practice after Judge Richard Klein of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas observed an increase in new asbestos case filings in the late 1980s. The defendants were often forced to declare bankruptcy, which significantly reduced the settlements paid out to plaintiffs. Separating out punitive damages helped to award larger settlements to plaintiffs.

Several Liability

Plaintiffs often file a claim against multiple asbestos companies. Each entity gets assigned a level of blame where appropriate to determine how responsible each one is for the caused harm. 

Several liability refers to this concept of shared liability. A defendant is liable for their portion of harm as determined and allocated at trial.  They are not solely responsible if other wrongdoers are also at fault. 

Successor Liability

It’s common for companies to change hands over time. A successor may inherit a business when the previous owner retires or passes. A merger or takeover may establish a new owner.

This is where successor liability comes into play. It states that the new owner or newly established company inherits the obligations of the previous entity. Pennsylvania law places limits on the responsibility successor companies have for asbestos liabilities acquired from another company.

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