Delaware Court Allows Dying Plaintiff’s Testimony in Asbestos Lawsuit

A Delaware judge has ruled that the sworn statements of a plaintiff who died just days before he was scheduled to give a deposition in an asbestos injury lawsuit may be admitted into evidence in the case, despite the objections of defense attorneys representing the defendant. The ruling from the Delaware Supreme Court comes six years after the plaintiff’s passing and will allow the victim’s dying words to be entered into evidence about his work history and potential exposure to asbestos-containing products.

According to the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit, filed in a Delaware Superior Court, the victim worked for the Ford Motor Company and was exposed to asbestos during the course of his employment. As a result of his exposure to asbestos during the course of his employment with Ford, the plaintiff claimed that he developed an asbestos-related condition in his lungs. The lawsuit claimed that Ford was aware of the dangers of its workers coming into contact with asbestos fibers but provided no warning to the plaintiff about the health risks associated with such activity.

In 2014, the plaintiff provided a pair of sworn affidavits regarding his work history and potential exposure to asbestos-containing products during the course of his employment with Ford. During this time, his asbestos-related health condition worsened, and he passed away just two days before a deposition scheduled for a date in October 2014. The defendant subsequently sought to challenge the admissibility of the plaintiff’s sworn affidavits under Delaware’s rules of evidence.

In their attempt to exclude the victim’s sworn statements, the defendants had argued to the court that because there was a “significant lapse of time” between the execution of the affidavits and the plaintiff’s death, they did not qualify under Delaware’s dying declaration rule to be admitted as evidence. Fortunately for the plaintiff, the court applied a different exception to the state’s hearsay rule and will be allowed into the record as residual exceptions.

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral which was used for decades in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications for its heat resistant properties. While asbestos was not effectively banned until the 1970s by federal legislation, companies knew for decades about the health risks associated with exposure but chose to provide no warning to workers or consumers about the dangers.

One of the most serious health conditions associated with exposure to asbestos is mesothelioma. The disease is a rare and deadly form of cancer that commonly affects the thin linings of tissue surrounding vital organs like the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. Because of the decades-long latency period before a diagnosis is made, many victims are left with only months to live before they succumb to the disease.

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If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.

 

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