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Schnader Attorneys Achieve Victory for General Electric in Important Asbestos Appeal

09/14/2011

On June 3, 2011, the Pennsylvania Superior Court issued a decision affirming the grant of summary judgment for Firm client General Electric ("GE") in an important asbestos appeal. General Electric was sued in the Court of Common Pleas for Allegheny County by plaintiff Scot Cameron, who alleged that he contracted mesothelioma from working with GE turbines installed in a U.S. Steel plant. The trial court granted GE's motion for summary judgment based on a construction statute of repose, holding that GE's turbines were permanent fixtures designed by GE and thus covered by the statute. Plaintiff appealed to the Pennsylvania Superior Court and GE retained Schnader to handle the appeal. Hon. Timothy K. Lewis and Bruce P. Merenstein of Schnader handled the briefing and Mr. Merenstein argued the case before the Superior Court.

In his appeal, the plaintiff raised numerous alleged errors in the court's decision granting summary judgment, including (1) a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court case had held that there is no statute of repose in asbestos cases; (2) an exception to the statute of repose for designers of fixtures who retain control of the fixtures applied; (3) that GE was not entitled to the protection of the construction statute of repose because the products that allegedly caused Mr. Cameron's disease (asbestos gaskets, packing, and insulation used with the turbines) were not permanent fixtures; (4) that GE was not entitled to the protection of the statute of repose because it was a manufacturer of the turbine (and not simply its designer); and (5) the statue of repose violates the Pennsylvania Constitution. The Superior Court rejected each argument and affirmed the grant of summary judgment in GE's favor. The court held that the first argument was waived, but addressed the other arguments on the merits and issued a precedential decision with numerous holdings that will assist the client in hundreds of other cases it has pending in Pennsylvania trial courts.