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Wannall v. Honeywell, Inc.: Evidence in Mesothelioma Cases

Wannall v. Honeywell, Inc., a mesothelioma appeals case from the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, involved plaintiff who was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma. Malignant mesothelioma is rare form of cancer most commonly caused by exposure to asbestos.

engineering-masterpiece-58513-m.jpgSoon after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, plaintiff and his wife filed a civil lawsuit. In this lawsuit, plaintiff was seeking damages from several defendants alleged to have manufactured asbestos to which he was exposed. Plaintiff died a short time after this lawsuit. His wife opened a probate estate and assumed plaintiff’s role in her capacity as administrator of his estate. His wife dismissed her personal cause of action and proceeded only on behalf of the estate.

Mesothelioma attorneys in Boston commonly represent family members of victims who died from asbestos-related illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis, and other respiratory illness. When victim is deceased, a family member will be required to go the Family and Probate Court to open an estate in decedent’s name prior to filing a lawsuit. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can assist you with the process.

In Wannall, plaintiff alleged he was exposed to asbestos while helping friends perform automobile repairs over a 50-year period. Specifically, he was exposed to asbestos from auto parts, including brake shoes known to contain asbestos. Asbestos was common in brake shoes due its natural resistance to heat and fire and cheap cost to mine and manufacture into commercial products.

After discovery was closed, defendant moved for Summary Judgment, requesting case be dismissed for failing to state a cause of action for which relief could be granted. In other words, even if trial court believed every one of plaintiff’s allegations, defendant did not cause harm to plaintiff. In its motion, defendant argued plaintiff had also been exposed to asbestos from his decades of service in the United States Navy. Trial judge denied this motion upon a finding plaintiff’s medical expert had created a genuine issue of material fact through this declaration of opinion.

At this point, defendant filed a renewed motion for summary judgment, asserting the motion should now be granted pursuant to the holding of a local case just decided. Plaintiff opposed this renewed motion and attached a new declaration from her expert which purported to satisfy the new change in legal standards. Unfortunately, plaintiff did properly seek leave to amend her expert declaration as required by the rules of evidence, nor did she comply with her continued obligation to supplement discovery as required by the rules. This time, trial court granted defendant’s motion for summary judgment and dismissed the case.

Plaintiff appealed trial court’s decision granting defendant’s renewed motion for summary judgment. On appeal, the court found plaintiff was not only late in supplementing discovery, she had waited a full two years to make the required disclosure. For this reason, along with others, the Court of Appeals affirmed trial judges decision to grant defendant’s motion.

Mesothelioma litigation often involves the use of complex civil rules and requirements, and you should make sure your attorney regularly handles these matters.

If you have been exposed to asbestos in Massachusetts, call the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential appointment — 1-888-367-2900.

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