Pennsylvania Record

Monday, January 27, 2020

Defendants get negative ruling from Superior Court in asbestos lawsuit


By Charmaine Little | Jun 10, 2019

Asbestos 10

HARRISBURG – The Superior Court of Pennsylvania has overturned summary judgment for two companies sued over alleged asbestos exposure that possibly led to a man’s death.

Judge Victor P. Stabile authored the May 22 opinion and judges Paula Francisco Ott and Maria McLaughlin concurred.

Marc Lee Lamson, who is the succeeding executor of Franklin Lamson’s estate, filed the appeal after the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County ruled in favor of International Paper Co. and Weyerhaeuser Co. in Lamson’s lawsuit. While the lower court said the Franklin Lamson didn’t submit enough evidence, the Superior Court disagreed.

Pennsylvania Superior Court Judge Victor P. Stabile

“We hold that [Lamson] submitted sufficient evidence to create a genuine issue of material fact on this question,” said Stabile wrote.

Stabile determined if the evidence presented proved that the fire doors Franklin Lamson worked with that contained asbestos were manufactured by IP and Weyerhaeuser. The judge pointed out that Franklin Lamson testified that he had a lot of experience fixing and installing fire doors. The ruling states one of his colleagues, who is also a carpenter, backed the testimony and also said Weyerhaeuser was the supplier for the fire doors. While they didn’t give a specific number, Stabile said those details are more vital for trial.

“We realize appellees did not admit that every fire door they manufactured contained asbestos; nor did appellant (Franklin Lamson) demonstrate that every fire door he worked on contained asbestos. Nevertheless, appellant did not need to demonstrate that every fire door contained asbestos in order to survive summary judgment,” the ruling states.

Stabile pointed out that since Franklin Lamson was diagnosed with mesothelioma, all his estate had to do was prove that IP and Weyerhaeuser manufactured even some of the doors. The court also disagreed with the appellees that even if their fire doors had asbestos, they didn’t emit asbestos-filled dust.

Franklin Lamson previously testified that he often drilled into the fire doors, which could generate dust that included asbestos. The judge said all of this was enough for Franklin Lamson to survive summary judgment.

Franklin Lamson worked at the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 1967 until he retired in 1994, first as an inspector and then as a general foreman. As a part of his job, Franklin Lamson often fixed fire doors, some that were manufactured by defendant Weyerhaeuser. Weyerhaeuser and IP admitted that a number of their fire doors had asbestos, the ruling states.

One physician determined that Franklin Lamson’s regular exposure to asbestos was a factor in his mesothelioma diagnosis. Lamson responded with a lawsuit and jury demand. The lower court granted Weyerhaeuser and IP their motions for summary judgment shortly after the discovery phase, and Lamson appealed.

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