Ohio court reinstates repairman’s mesothelioma lawsuit

December 26th, 2006

An appeals court in Cleveland has reinstated the mesothelioma lawsuit of an Ohio electrician who often did repairs at a General Motors plant. The ruling overturned the decision of a lower court judge, who ruled that the claims made in the mesothelioma lawsuit were not valid.

Lee Rettig performed repairs intermittently at GM’s Defiance, Ohio plant from 1953 until 1990. In his lawsuit, Rettig alleges that his exposure to asbestos-containing insulation and wiring at the plant caused him to receive a mesothelioma diagnosis. Asbestos exposure is almost always the cause of patients’ developing develop mesothelioma symptoms.

Attorneys for GM argued that because Rettig’s work as an electrician was inherently dangerous, they could not be held liable for his mesothelioma diagnosis. A judge with the Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court agreed and dismissed his mesothelioma lawsuit. However, in an appeal filed with the Ohio Court of Appeals, Rettig’s mesothelioma lawyers argued that because his electrical contracting company was not aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure when they sent him to the plant, GM could still be held responsible for his mesothelioma diagnosis; the court agreed and reinstated his mesothelioma lawsuit.

Mesothelioma lawyer Thomas Bevan says that Rettig’s case could have ramifications for other trade workers who file similar lawsuits. “We’ve had mixed results in these types of cases,” says Bevan. “This is the first clear decision out of the court of appeals.”

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