July 8, 2011 – New Jersey mesothelioma lawyers from LK receive a Federal Judge’s ruling allowing US citizens living abroad to bring a mesothelioma lawsuit in a New Jersey state court.
NEW JERSEY MESOTHELIOMA LAWYERS FROM LK RECEIVE A FEDERAL JUDGE’S RULING ALLOWING US CITIZENS LIVING ABROAD TO BRING A MESOTHELIOMA LAWSUIT IN A NEW JERSEY STATE COURT.
NEWARK, New Jersey, July 8, 2011 – In a decision issued today, the Honorable Peter G. Sheridan of the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey ruled that a person who is a citizen of both the United States and another country, but was living abroad when they were diagnosed with an asbestos-related illness, can bring a lawsuit against those responsible in a state court.
The case concerns the death of Pellegrina Fusco, the wife of Vincent Fusco, from mesothelioma. Vincent and Pellegrina were both born in and were citizens of Italy, and moved to the United States in the 1960s. They both soon became United States citizens and enjoyed the benefits, and met the obligations, of that privilege. The Fuscos settled in Suffern, New York, and Vincent found work nearby at the Abex research facility in Mahwah, New Jersey.
For several years in the 1970s, Vincent worked at the facility performing maintenance and general labor. Unfortunately, while there, he was unknowingly exposed to asbestos that was being used at the facility in production, testing, and in the physical plant. This included raw asbestos fibers, which were stored in open bins in the facility, and dust released from brakes that were being fabricated, ground down, and tested. Every day, workers like Vincent were routinely exposed to this asbestos, even if they themselves were not working with the fibers or brakes.
At the end of each day, Vincent would come home from work covered with asbestos dust and fibers. And each day, his wife Pellegrina was exposed to this asbestos dust, not only when he came home from work, but also when she shook out his work clothes while doing laundry.
At no time during his employment had Abex or the companies that supplied the asbestos ever warned Vincent that by wearing his asbestos dust-covered clothes home he was exposing his family to a dangerous and carcinogenic substance, even though these companies had all long since been aware of the dangers.
Vincent died in 1975 (his death was not related to asbestos exposure or his work at Abex). From 1975 to 1986 Pellegrina remained in the United States, working and raising her children. In 1986, Pellegrina and her children moved back to Italy to be closer to their extended family. Pellegrina nevertheless remained a United States citizen, which was a source of personal pride for her.
In 2010, the Fusco family was devastated to learn that Pellegrina had pleural mesothelioma, a cancer of the lining of the lung tissue caused by asbestos exposure. Since Pellegrina’s only exposures to asbestos were the result of her husband Vincent’s work at Abex, Pellegrina and her family filed a lawsuit in a New Jersey state court against Abex and several asbestos companies.
This decision was no small matter: not only do the state courts of New Jersey have extensive experience adjudicating asbestos and mesothelioma lawsuits, but they also prioritize and quickly advance the cases filed by living plaintiffs.
However, less than a month before the start of the trial, the defendants filed papers attempting to transfer the case from the New Jersey state court to a federal court (in legal parlance, they attempted to “remove” the case to a federal court). In essence, at the eleventh hour, the defendants argued that Pellegrina should have to make her case in a different court by virtue of living abroad. As a practical matter, this would not only cause extensive delays but would also serve to treat Pellegrina differently from other United States citizens simply because she was living abroad when she was diagnosed with mesothelioma.
Following a hearing on the matter, Judge Sheridan concluded that a person who is a citizen of both the United States and another country, but lives outside of the United States, cannot sue (i.e., file a lawsuit as a plaintiff) or be sued (i.e., as a defendant) in federal courts. Therefore, the judge ruled that the defendants’ attempt to remove the case from the state court to a federal court was improper, and he promptly issued an order to send the case back to the state court in New Jersey.
This decision is significant since it confirms that, insofar as New Jersey is concerned, American citizens living abroad will be guaranteed the same right to bring their cases in New Jersey state courts as their fellow citizens living on United States territory.
Pellegrina Fusco and her family are represented by New Jersey mesothelioma lawyer Moshe Maimon of Levy Konigsberg LLP, a New York and New Jersey-based law firm that has specialized in representing victims of mesothelioma for more than twenty-five years.
During the course of the 20th century, workers at factories and industrial sites were heavily exposed to asbestos, which was used in products manufactured through at least the early 1980s. As a result, not only have these workers developed asbestos-related diseases, such as mesothelioma but, in many cases, their wives and children have as well by virtue of being exposed to the asbestos dust that was on their husband’s and father’s clothing when they came home from work.
Mesothelioma is asbestos-related cancer that occurs most commonly in the pleura or peritoneum that line the lungs and abdominal cavities, respectively. The disease occurs after a “latency period” of many decades, which explains why many people exposed to asbestos are diagnosed with mesothelioma many decades after the exposure.
For over a quarter of a century, mesothelioma lawyers at Levy Konigsberg LLP have been among the pioneers of asbestos litigation in America. The firm’s attorneys have been recognized as nationwide leaders in representing the rights of mesothelioma victims and their families. Their clients have received some of the largest mesothelioma compensation verdicts in the country.
For more information about this or other mesothelioma lawsuits, please contact Levy Konigsberg LLP at (800) 315-3806 or 1-800-MESO-LAW (1-800-637-6529), 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.