FEDERAL JUDGE FROM NEW YORK’S NORTHERN DISTRICT COURT RULES IN FAVOR OF A FORMER NAVAL SUBMARINE SHIPYARD WORKER WHO DEVELOPED MESOTHELIOMA AS A RESULT OF THE EXPOSURE TO ASBESTOS CONTAINED IN SHIP EQUIPMENT SUPPLIED BY GENERAL ELECTRIC. THE RULING DENIED GE’S ATTEMPT TO REMOVE THE CASE FROM THE STATE COURT, WHERE LAWSUIT WAS ORIGINALLY FILED, AND TRY IT IN THE FEDERAL COURT.
NEW YORK, New York, July 23, 2008 – In a decision issued today, the Honorable Thomas J. McAvoy granted a motion to remand a mesothelioma lawsuit, filed on behalf of a Gansevoort, NY, man, back to the state court. The Judge’s decision thwarted the efforts of General Electric Company (“GE”), who sought to have the mesothelioma claims decided in the Federal Court in Binghamton, NY. GE had removed the case to Federal Court in May of 2008 under the authority of a federal statute that provides such a remedy for corporations that were under the directions of federal officers in their role as government contractors.
The decision was issued in the case of Richard Simpson, who worked as a civilian submarine builder for a contractor to the United States Navy from 1965 through 1983. GE, headquartered in Schenectady, NY, was one of the primary manufactures and suppliers of submarine equipment from turbines to pumps that utilized asbestos insulation and asbestos components, including asbestos gaskets and packing. Mr. Simpson was exposed to asbestos during the development and construction of these naval submarines.
In March of 2008, Mr. Simpson filed a lawsuit in a state court in Schenectady, NY, alleging that equipment and products manufactured and supplied by a number of companies, including GE, utilized asbestos insulation and asbestos components, to which he was exposed during the development and construction of submarines and caused his mesothelioma.
In April of 2008, Mr. Simpson’s mesothelioma lawyers from Levy Konigsberg LLP served via electronic mail on all of the defendants, including GE, a series of answers to standard questions posed by the defendants known as Interrogatory Responses. These Interrogatory Responses were sent out in a file format used by the WordPerfect® word processing program. One of Mr. Simpson’s answers provided great detail regarding his years of employment, employer, work sites, job titles, the names and hull numbers of the submarines he helped construct, and the types of equipment and products utilized in the construction of the submarines.
Under federal law, a defendant has 30 days to remove a state case to federal court starting from the time they are provided sufficient notice that a case is removable. GE however removed the case to the federal court 34 days after they received Mr. Simpson’s Interrogatory Responses. GE’s defense attorneys, an international law firm with offices across the United States, Europe and beyond, argued that they were unable to open or view the Interrogatory Responses since the document was provided in WordPerfect format, which was not supported by their offices and thus were not given proper notice. In rejecting this argument, Judge McAvoy, emphasized the well-known fact that the other leading word processing programs, such as Microsoft Word, have long been capable of opening WordPerfect documents. He stated, “It is difficult to conclude that G.E.’s counsel, a large firm consisting of over 400 attorneys with thirteen offices in the United States and Europe, could not open a WordPerfect document.”
Judge McAvoy ruled against GE finding their notice of removal was untimely because it was filed more than thirty days after it received the April, 2008, e-mail and the matter was remanded back to the state court in Schenectady, NY, to proceed to trial.
Mr. Simpson is represented by mesothelioma lawyers Patrick Timmins and Jerome H. Block, both of Levy Konigsberg LLP, a New York City-based law firm that has specialized in representing victims of mesothelioma for more than twenty-five years. According to Timmins, “This decision by Judge McAvoy is an important victory for the Davids of the world, such as Richard Simpson, who were exposed to asbestos unnecessarily because the Goliaths, such as GE, failed to warn about the dangers of asbestos.”
Civilian shipyard and submarine yard workers, particularly those working in the construction or repair of the lower decks, housing the equipment and mechanical rooms, were heavily exposed to asbestos during the 1940s up through at least the 1970s. As a result, many of these workers, like Richard Simpson, have developed mesothelioma. Mesothelioma is an asbestos-related cancer that occurs most commonly in the pleural or abdominal cavities and generally surfaces many decades after such workers were exposed.
For more information about this or other mesothelioma lawsuits, please contact Levy Konigsberg LLP at 2800-315-3806 or 1-800-MESO-LAW (1-800-637-6529), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
ATTENTION: Mesothelioma has no known cure and often causes severe pain, suffering, and other types of damage, such as loss of consortium, and loss of income. Additionally, due to the exceedingly high cost of mesothelioma treatments, many families exhaust savings and accumulate financial debt in order to pay for the medical expenses of their family member.
Under the law of most states, pain and suffering from mesothelioma may be compensated through the award of money damages, usually obtained with the help of experienced mesothelioma attorneys. In some states other types of damages may also be recovered.
Asbestos litigation affords mesothelioma victims the opportunity to receive financial compensation and hold accountable the companies that caused their asbestos exposure.
IMPORTANT: If you or your family member has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, you should get in touch with a mesothelioma lawyer as early as possible to determine if you have a mesothelioma case and to:
- Preserve your rights to bring a legal action against the responsible parties within the limited time frame allowed by law, known as statute of limitations;
- Obtain maximum compensation in your case by being able to:
- Preserve evidence and establish facts of the asbestos exposure while the claimant is still alive and able to provide information;
- File and resolve a lawsuit against the responsible parties before they file for bankruptcy or, if they already have, to obtain compensation before their bankruptcy trust funds run out of money;
- Expedite your case, as courts tend to give higher priority to mesothelioma lawsuits where the claimant is still alive.
Find out whether you have a case by speaking to one of our experienced mesothelioma lawyers via our 24/7 toll-free hotline at 1-800-MESO-LAW (1-800-637-6529) or by submitting an email inquiry (see form above). Our attorneys will be quick to respond to you and happy to answer all of your questions.
NOTE: While our offices are located in the states of New York, New Jersey, and Georgia, many of our mesothelioma lawyers are licensed to practice law in a number of U.S. states and have the capability and extensive experience of representing mesothelioma clients throughout the United States. You are encouraged to contact us with any questions.