NEW YORK, New York, April 30, 2014 – On April 15, 2014, An attorney at Levy Konigsberg LLP (“LK”), won a groundbreaking appellate court decision against the corporate giant Union Carbide, a division of Dow Chemical. It is believed that the decision in this case1 was the first in the nation to defeat Union Carbide’s attempt at summary judgment in a case involving exposure to Bakelite laminated asbestos sheets, rods or tubes.

Union Carbide strongly argued the company never made or sold asbestos containing laminated sheets and that the plaintiff, Frank Kestenbaum, could not prove that he was exposed to asbestos from their Bakelite products. The New York State Appellate Division, First Department, unanimously rejected Union Carbide’s arguments and found that LK had discovered ample evidence to show that Mr. Kestenbaum was exposed to asbestos from laminated sheets that were manufactured and/or sold under UCC’s exclusive Bakelite trade name. The Appellate decision affirmed the trial court’s ruling which also denied Union Carbide’s motion.

“Union Carbide can no longer hide behind misdirection, misinformation and smoke screens regarding their Bakelite laminated products which were made with deadly asbestos fibers,” said Mr. Kestenbaum’s attorney from Levy Konigsberg.

This is an important win and establishes that Union Carbide may be liable for asbestos laminates that were made with their resins, sold under their exclusive trademarked trade name and advertised and promoted by Union Carbide’s marketing materials. In this case, Frank Kestenbaum was a manager at Cadillac Plastics during the late 60’s and early ‘70s and would cut, saw and drill Bakelite laminated sheets, rods and tubes for his customers.

Bakelite is the exclusive trade name of Union Carbide. Asbestos Bakelite laminates were used in electrical products, machinery, circuit boards, electronics, televisions and radios, among other products. Mr. Kestenbaum testified that he and his co-workers regularly worked with Bakelite and he was exposed to asbestos from it. He was subsequently diagnosed and passed away from mesothelioma, a rare type of cancer that affects the lining of the lungs. The only known cause of mesothelioma in the United States is exposure to asbestos.

“Prior to this decision, Union Carbide has been able to avoid taking responsibility for the asbestos containing Bakelite laminates that they helped design, manufacture, market and sell. That stops now. We’ve found new evidence that shows that Union Carbide was deeply involved in the design and manufacture and sale of these dangerous products and knew exactly how deadly the asbestos in the Bakelite laminates could be. Despite all of this, Union Carbide never passed that information on, or warned to the hard working people like Frank Kestenbaum who were using their products,” a firm spokesperson commented. This case is expected to proceed to trial in the next few months in New York City.

The trial attorneys at LK and represent men and women who have become sick as a result of asbestos exposure. With offices in New York, New Jersey, and Georgia LK is a leading national law firm representing asbestos victims throughout the country.

1 Alice Kestenbaum, as Executrix of the Estate of Frank Kestenbaum, vs. Durez Corporation, et al., No. 190421-11 (N.Y. Sup. Ct., New York County).


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