Asbestos exposure causes malignant mesothelioma as well as a number of other diseases that can kill or dramatically impact those diagnosed with it. In the case of Colleen Schrader’s deceased husband Ernest, the exposure to asbestos came in his workplace and evidence existed that his company was aware of its dangers. Yet a Philadelphia trial court refused to allow a jury hearing her wrongful death lawsuit the ability to review evidence proving that while they were deliberating, and as a result, a three-judge Superior Court panel has decided that the widow deserves a new trial.
Though the jury in the original trial concluded that Ameron International Corporation was not responsible for Mr. Schrader’s death from asbestos exposure, they only did so after the judge had refused their request to review an exhibit demonstrating Ameron’s knowledge of asbestos’ dangers. The judge in the original trial sided with the defense counsel, saying that the jury needed to rely on their memories and saying that they would “be here all day if they had to constantly produce every document that a jury requested.
Company Was Aware of Risks of Asbestos Exposure
At the original ten-day asbestos exposure trial, the jury was told by a witness of an interoffice memo dated 1978 and written by Ameron employee Neal Lambley, speaking directly to the issue of how the company “should do all [it] can to educate our customers and minimize the utilization of asbestos.” Despite this clear knowledge of the dangers of the carcinogenic material, the company failed to provide warnings to its customers, and also failed to provide protection to employees like Mr. Schader. But the judge refused the jury’s explicit request to review this evidence, and that decision was enough to lead the appeals court to throw out the original not-guilty verdict and allow a new case to be heard.