In Singer v. Pneumo Abex, LLC, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals ruled that a Milwaukee court should have granted summary judgment against the estate of a man who died from malignant mesothelioma. The successful Wisconsin defense law firm in the case was the Madison office of Godfrey & Kahn. The unsuccessful plaintiff was represented by an out-of-state law firm and not a Wisconsin asbestos law firm.
The evidence in the case showed that the plaintiff’s decedent had worked at Harnishfeger, one of many Wisconsin companies facing asbestos litigation or alleged to have some link to asbestos or mesothelioma. The evidence also showed that the plaintiff’s decedent was likely exposed to asbestos while cleaning up asbestos dust caused by brake linings at Harnishfeger’s plants. However, the plaintiff failed to prove that the plaintiff’s decedent was ever likely exposed to Abex’s brake shoes with asbestos.
Unfortunately, this problem highlights one of the major difficulties in succeeding in a wrongful death case related to malignant mesothelioma caused by asbestos, which is locating credible evidence from which a reasonable person could infer that the deceased was exposed to the defendant’s asbestos product. Since malignant mesothelioma may not be diagnosed for 20 or 30 years after a person’s exposure to asbestos, there may be difficulty in proving which asbestos products the person was exposed to that caused the mesothelioma.
The problem of product identification is one of many reasons why anyone diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma should hire immediately an asbestos lawyer. Too often, families will wait to hire a lawyer until after their family member has died from mesothelioma. However, doing that prevents the asbestos lawyer from obtaining sometimes critical evidence the would allow the attorney to prove which asbestos products caused the mesothelioma.