Mesothelioma Victim’s Family May Sue

CA Supreme Court Affirms Right to File Claims After Asbestos–Related Cancers Are Discovered

Sacramento, CA — May 15, 2000 — The California Supreme Court today handed down a landmark opinion reaffirming the rights of asbestos victims under California's statute of limitations Section 340.2 ( Linda Hamilton et al. v. Asbestos Corp., Docket No. S069596). Plaintiff Arthur Mitchell passed away from mesothelioma, an asbestos–related cancer, while the case was on appeal and is now represented by Linda Hamilton and other members of his family.

Plaintiff and decedent Arthur Mitchell had brought suit for injuries related to asbestosis. One month prior to his trial, he was diagnosed with the rare and fatal cancer mesothelioma. A second complaint was filed, and the two actions consolidated. Asbestos Corp. asked to have the cancer–related claims stricken, but its motion was denied. The jury returned a verdict in the plaintiff's favor. However, the Court of Appeal reversed the verdict based on Asbestos Corp.'s argument that the time for filing claims based on the cancer had already run.

Justice Stanley Mosk, writing for the California Supreme Court, reversed the Court of Appeal decision. The Court of Appeal's interpretation of Sec. 340.2 did not produce a fair result for those injured by asbestos, according to the California Supreme Court.

"This is a major victory for Mr. Mitchell's family, and all those suffering from asbestos–related lung injuries," said Alan R. Brayton, founding partner of Brayton Purcell LLP. "Persons suffering from asbestosis and other non–cancerous asbestos–related injuries can file their claims with complete confidence that the laws enacted for their protection will be enforced and upheld. I'm proud that our firm has taken a lead role in defending this law, and that the Supreme Court has agreed with our consistent position."