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Estate of mesothelioma victim may pursue claims


A Kentucky appellate court reversed a lower court ruling that dismissed a lawsuit against two companies brought by the estate of a woman who died from mesothelioma.

The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday said a trial court improperly granted summary judgment to Schneider Electric USA Inc. and Union Carbide Corp. in a case initiated by Paul Williams on behalf of his late wife, Vickie Williams, who died in 2017.

Ms. Williams contracted mesothelioma in 2016 when she was 54 and she died a year later. Before her death, Ms. Williams sued the companies over claims that she was exposed to asbestos from her father’s contaminated work clothes and during her own brief employment with Schneider as a teenager in 1978.

Schneider argued it owed no duty to Ms. Williams and that her claims were barred by exclusive remedy in workers compensation. A trial judge disagreed, finding the asbestos exposure was not related to Ms. Williams’ three-month employment as a teenager in 1978.

A subsequent judge who took over the case, however, granted summary judgment to both companies.

The estate appealed, and the appeals court agreed that summary judgment for the defendants was improper.

Dangers relating to take-home asbestos dust were “reasonably foreseeable” in the 1960s, the court stated, and Ms. Williams’ estate should be permitted to pursue recovery for her non-work-related injuries.

The case was remanded to the trial court for further proceedings.