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California Supreme Court Allows Mesothelioma As Separate Case
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California Supreme Court Allows Mesothelioma As Separate Case

Asbestos Litigation

The California Supreme Court recently decided that a particular statute of limitations for injury or illness caused by exposure to asbestos does not bar an action for a second disease, mesothelioma, which was diagnosed several years after the original diagnosis of a related pulmonary condition. The asbestos worker was exposed to asbestos fiber in various industrial workplaces from the early 1940s until 1963 when he became a television repairman. 

In the late 1970's he experienced shortness of breath. In 1979 the worker was diagnosed with asbestosis, a noncancerous, chronic breathing impairment. He continued to work until 1989 when he retired at age 65. In 1993 a complaint was filed on workers' behalf against the suppliers and manufacturers of asbestos products for breathing problems, asbestosis, and/or other lung damage. In December 1995, he developed abdominal pain, and exploratory surgery in January 1996 revealed a cancerous growth in his abdominal cavity triggered by his exposure to asbestos fiber, mesothelioma.

On January 30, 1996, the worker filed another complaint alleging disability and damages flowing from the second diagnosis or disease, mesothelioma. The Supreme Court of California held that the worker was not time-barred in filing the second complaint for mesothelioma, which was filed more than one year after the original diagnosis of an asbestos-related respiratory condition. The court reasoned that since "…a plaintiff cannot discover that his disability was caused by asbestos exposure before he suffers that disability, the disability must in all cases either precede or accompany its discovery." Hamilton v. Asbestos Corp., Ltd., 998 P. 2d 403 - Cal: Supreme Court 2000. 


The author, Jon L. Gelman, practices law in Wayne, NJ. He is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman  1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

Recommended Citation: Gelman, Jon L.,  California Supreme Court Allows Mesothelioma As Separate Case, (1999),

© 1999-2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.

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