Jury selection under way in asbestos trial

Jon Campisi Jun. 3, 2011, 7:36am

Jury selection began this week in the trial of four separate asbestos cases being tried together at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, according to court records and the executive director of the Complex Litigation Center.

Stanley Thompson, the director of the center, which handles mass tort groupings, said the trial will be presided over by Common Pleas Court Judge Victor J. DeNubile, Jr.

Opening arguments in the trial are expected to take place Monday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m., according to the court docket sheet.

Court documents indicate that three of the cases, all of which were first filed back in 2009, involve plaintiffs who were diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma after careers working around asbestos related products.

One case involves Charles Teller, a Lansdale, Pa. man who had a lengthy professional career dating back to the mid 20th century working a variety of blue-collar jobs that had him dealing with asbestos in various capacities.

These included stints as a laborer for an industrial products manufacturing company, as a plumber, as a carpenter and as a general contractor.

According to the Teller complaint, the plaintiff was diagnosed by doctors in April 2009 as having malignant mesothelioma, which is a cancerous tumor of the lining of the lungs and chest cavity or lining of the abdomen. The diagnosis is common in cases involving long-term asbestos exposure.

Defendants listed on the original lawsuit include, but are not limited to, CBS Corp., Columbia Boiler Co., Crane Co., Dap Products, Inc., and John Crane Inc.

It was not immediately clear what, if any, defendants on the lengthy list might have settled out of court.

The other two cases involve William Brobst, a Lansdowne, Pa. man who worked briefly back in 1960 as a laborer at Refractory & Insulation Corp. in Norristown, Pa., and as a teacher at Upper Darby High School in suburban Philadelphia from 1960 to 1998.

Brobst, according to his complaint, was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in October 2008.

The third case in the grouping is that of John Grabowski, a Philadelphia man who is suing Garlock Inc. and Melrath Gasket Inc. for injuries he suffered after a career working around asbestos, according to his lawsuit.

The complaint states that Grabowski worked as a sheet metal layout mechanic for Clermont Engineering from 1963 to 1985. He was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in June 2009.

According to court documents, Grabowski has since passed away, and a David J. Grabowski, who is executor of the elder Grabowski’s estate, has been named party plaintiff.

The fourth case being tried is that of Mary Anne and Anthony Adamkovic vs. A.W. Chesterton Inc., 3M Co., Ace Hardware and others.

The complaint, which was first filed in December 2007, was not immediately available, and thus the specifics of the lawsuit could not be ascertained.

The plaintiff’s attorney, as indicated on the docket sheet for all the cases involved in the trial, is Philadelphia lawyer Benjamin Shein of Shein Law Center LTD.

The case numbers are 090900431, 091100548, 090902647 and 071200239.

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