In an unexpected turnaround, an asbestos trial involving four cases of malignant mesothelioma, two of them deaths, that was expected to last two to three weeks ended June 7 when all parties settled.
During what was supposed to be the second day of a trial involving four families affected by lung cancer, Benjamin Shein, of the Shein Law Center, LTD, the attorney representing the four plaintiffs, announced that the four companies defending against the claims instead decided to settle their respective cases.
An hour-and-a-half after trial was originally scheduled to begin, Philadelphia Common Pleas Court Judge Victor J. DiNubile, Jr. was observed walking out into the courtroom and shaking the hands of various parties involved, signaling an agreement had been reached.
In a brief interview before everyone left courtroom 253 at City Hall, Shein told the Pennsylvania Record that the defendants agreed to settle, although he wouldn’t divulge the terms of the settlement agreements, saying they remain confidential as is customary in cases involving multiple defendants in mass tort cases where proportion of liability is typically determined in addition to monetary damages.
During opening statements on Monday, Shein had signaled that the trial would probably last two to three weeks. A handful of doctors, as well as the widower of one of the plaintiffs, had been expected to testify, but that never came to fruition.
The four plaintiffs in the grouped mass tort trial were Anthony Adamkovic, whose wife, Mary Anne, died at age 73 in April 2008 from malignant mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lungs typically attributed to asbestos exposure; Douglas Hake, who is in the terminal stages of malignant mesothelioma, (he turns 66 on Wednesday); James Kyler, another man who succumbed to malignant mesothelioma in April 2011; and Charles Teller, a Lansdale, Pa. man who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in April 2009 and is currently fighting the disease.
Shein had been prepared to argue at trial that Mary Anne Adamkovic got the form of lung cancer after years of washing her husband’s clothing; Anthony Adamkovic worked with car brakes and brake products on the side for a number of years.
The other three cases involved plaintiffs who came into contact with asbestos and asbestos-related products during their respective work histories.
The defendants in the case at the time it went to trial were Union Carbide Corp., DAP Inc., Pneumo Abex Corp., and Tremco Commercial Sealants & Waterproofing.