Judge Rules Navy Worker’s Asbestos Claims Against GE and Crane Can Go Forward

A Pennsylvania federal judge ruled recently that a former U.S. Navy service member can pursue claims against Crane Co., General Electric and two other companies that he was exposed to asbestos while working aboard Navy ships.

Last week U.S. Judge Eduardo Robreno denied bids by Crane and Guardline Inc. for summary judgment, ruling that plaintiff had provided sufficient evidence that he had been exposed to asbestos from their products, Law360 reports. The judge granted GE partial summary judgment on claims that the man was exposed to asbestos from the wire wrappings on its equipment, although he preserved the plaintiff’s claims that he was exposed to asbestos from other products by the company.The Navy veteran claims that he was exposed to asbestos while serving in the Navy from 1969 to 1991 and while working in a shipyard for three years after he left the service, according to Law360. Court documents indicate that he filed suit  in 2013 against Crane and other defendants that manufactured packing used in equipment aboard Navy ships.

Judge Robreno rejected Crane’s argument that plaintiff had not provided sufficient evidence to support his claim that he was exposed to breathable asbestos dust from Crane’s packing while repairing equipment on Navy ships, according to Law360. The judge said there is evidence that he “was exposed to respirable dust from asbestos-containing wrapping around GE wires on GE equipment,” though he said there is no evidence that GE manufactured or supplied this wrapping.

During much of the twentieth century, asbestos was used as an insulator and fireproofing material, often mixed with other materials to add its heat- and fire-resistant properties to construction materials and even fabrics. But inhaling asbestos causes serious, sometimes fatal, health problems including pleural disease, asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma. These diseases can take years to develop and many people who worked around asbestos, for example, in shipbuilding, became sick decades after their exposure. Some people became ill from asbestos exposure from washing the clothes of asbestos workers. Thousands of asbestos lawsuits have been filed by workers across many industries and occupations.

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