Pennsylvania Supreme Court Lets Asbestos Judgment Stand

by Sokolove Law

In a closely watched asbestos exposure case, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court recently let stand a judgment of approximately $950,000 against the Lincoln Electric Company.

Lincoln had filed an appeal with the state’s high court to contest the verdict in a lawsuit filed against it on behalf of suburban Philadelphia welder Robert Wolfinger, according to Law360 (subscription required). However, the court declined to hear an appeal of the case.

In the original suit, Wolfinger’s family alleged that he died from exposure to asbestos contained in welding rods manufactured by Lincoln Electric.

According to the suit, Wolfinger developed pleural thickening, a lung disease that causes scarring and calcification of the lining surrounding the lungs. Pleural thickening may sometimes be a sign of mesothelioma, a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring substance that was used in a wide variety of materials and products until the 1970s. It was believed to be safe as well as versatile, inexpensive, and fire-retardant. Now we know that exposure to asbestos fibers can cause a number of devastating health issues.

In 2010 a jury determined that Wolfinger suffered from pleural thickening caused by asbestos exposure and awarded damages of $825,000, plus $127,281.68 to compensate for delay, according to court documents. In a second phase of the trial, a jury found that the welding rods were defective and caused Wolfinger’s illness.

Lincoln Electric appealed the verdict to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, claiming that testimony by one of Wolfinger’s medical experts was inadmissible due to findings in a different legal case (Betz v. Pneumo Abex LLC). In February 2013, the Superior Court denied the appeal, stating that there was other evidence on which the jury based its verdict. Lincoln Electric then challenged the decision of the Superior Court and sought to have the Pennsylvania Supreme Court hear the case.

According to the National Cancer Institute, there is no known safe level of asbestos exposure. If you or a loved one was exposed to asbestos and later diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease such as mesothelioma, you may be eligible for financial compensation. Call Sokolove Law today for a free case evaluation.

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