Asbestos Claim Not Barred by Statute of Limitations
SAN FRANCISCO, CA — September 15, 1998 — Welder Kyle Richmond worked most of his entire adult life — from World War II through 1973 — in a number of shipyards throughout Northern California. In 1983, Mr. Richmond brought suit for lung damage caused by his exposure to asbestos fibers that were released from a number of asbestos–containing products used during the building of large ships. After resolving or settling all claims for his asbestosis, Mr. Richmond was diagnosed with fatal mesothelioma in 1994. Brayton Purcell LLP filed a second lawsuit based on this new terminal cancer.
Several defendants argued that the mesothelioma case was barred by the one–year filing deadline (the "statute of limitations") and that all claims for injury should have been brought in 1983. Brayton Purcell LLP attorneys argued that applying this "single action rule" would be unfair in asbestos cancer cases. Cancers caused by exposure to asbestos may take decades to develop, even when other harmful illnesses such as asbestosis and asbestos–related pleural plaques may form within a shorter period of time.
Both the trial court and the appellate court agreed with Brayton Purcell's position and allowed Mr. Richmond's suit to press forward (Richmond v. A.P. Green Industries, Inc.(1998) 66 Cal.App.4th 878, 78 Cal.Rptr.2d 356). According to the appellate court:
".... If injured parties are not permitted to bring separate actions for asbestos exposure diseases that are distinct and manifested at different times, they are denied the opportunity for adequate compensation."Richmond, 66 Cal.App.4th at 891.