The Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court recently ruled that the Pennsylvania Occupational Disease Act (ODA) can’t be used to block an unfolding asbestos work exposure lawsuit. The plaintiff alleged that he was exposed to asbestos at work but his mesothelioma was not detected and diagnosed until 15 years after the final date of exposure. The defendant attempted to use that time delay to defeat the claim. However, the three-judge panel noted that the ODA only stops lawsuits against employers by injured employees if symptoms appear within four years.
The ruling marks an important victory for workers in Pennsylvania who have been exposed to asbestos and other unsafe substances in the scope of their employment. It has solidly established how the statute of limitations should be interpreted in workplace occupational disease lawsuits against employers. The decision also made it clear that latent disease claims do not need to go to the Workers’ Compensation Board first.
Attorney-Partner Robert Daley of Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. represented the plaintiff in this landmark case. His insightful explanation of the situation was quoted in Law360.
“It has always been our position that latent disease claims, such as Mr. Herold’s [plaintiff] mesothelioma, were outside the jurisdiction of both the Workers’ Compensation Act and the Occupational Disease Act, and the University’s [defendant] argument otherwise in our view flew in the face of the Tooey case. […] We are also pleased that the decision rejected the university’s argument that latent disease claims must first go to the Workers’ Compensation Board, as we have always viewed that as just another attempt made by defendants in these cases to avoid the holding of Tooey and to avoid liability.”
From everyone at Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C., we are excited about this progression in our client’s case. We look forward to continuing his claim and seeing how this will impact and improve similar cases for other clients throughout Pennsylvania.
For more information about this recent development, you can click here to view the full Law360 article featuring Attorney Daley. (Log-in or subscription may be required.) To learn more about Robert Peirce & Associates, P.C. and the work we do for injured workers across Pennsylvania, please contact us online at any time.