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Asbestos Mesothelioma Widow’s $2.3 Million Award Delayed Yet Again

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Philadelphia, PAIt was back in April of last year when an appellate court affirmed a lower court’s verdict and ruling to award $2.3 million in compensation upon the conclusion of an Asbestos lawsuit brought by Frank and Charlotte Vinciguerra.

And yet it isn’t over, in spite of the appeal. That’s because the Pennsylvania Supreme Court has agreed to hear a challenge by a defendant to determine if a defendant might have the legal capacity to ask jurors to decide whether or not a product alleged to have contributed to a diagnosis of mesothelioma on the part of Frank Vinciguerra may have indeed been “unreasonably dangerous.”

This would be a further blow for Charlotte Vinciguerra, who lost her husband, Frank, to asbestos mesothelioma. Now a widow, Charlotte has little choice but to continue the process alone.

According to court records, Frank Vinciguerra toiled as a sheet metal worker for E.I. DuPont Nemours & Co. at its Chambers Works facility in Deepwater, New Jersey. With the exception of two years, Vinciguerra worked at the plant from 1951 to 1985.

According to his asbestos claims, Vinciguerra was regularly made to fashion and install gaskets made from Cranite, a substance manufactured by Crane Co. and alleged to contain asbestos. Vinciguerra would later face a diagnosis of malignant asbestos cancer - Mesothelioma - and subsequently succumbed to the disease.

Amongst other issues, Crane Co., it has been reported, put forward its position that the industrial products company was prejudiced by the original trial court’s refusal to allow a jury instruction saying that a product is defective when the lack of instructions or warnings render it “not reasonably safe.”

The appellate court, in April, disagreed with that notion.

“Upon review of the record, we conclude that the requested instruction was not justified by Crane’s theory of the case and the evidence it presented at trial,” the appellate court said in April. “Crane’s defense was not that Cranite was not ‘unreasonably dangerous.’ Rather, Crane asserted that Cranite was not dangerous at all.”

Crane appealed the appellate court’s ruling to Pennsylvania’s highest court, submitting several issues. It has been reported the Court dismissed Crane Co.’s petition in practically every aspect save for one: whether the 2014 Tincher v. Omega Flex Inc. decision permits “a defendant in strict-liability claim based on a failure-to-warn theory [the] right to have a jury determine whether the product was ‘unreasonably dangerous.’”

The Tincher decision struck down the longstanding 1978 decision in Azzarello v. Black Brothers Co., which precluded all evidence of negligence in strict liability cases. The Tincher decision also fostered a shift in jury instructions.

It is not known if Crane Co. will pursue the matter to a higher court if it fails in its petition with the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Regardless, the widow of Frank Vinciguerra has little choice but to carry on with her asbestos claims in the absence of her husband, felled as he was by asbestos mesothelioma.

The Asbestos lawsuit is Charlotte Vinciguerra v. Bayer Cropscience Inc. et al., Case number 447 EAL 2015, in the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania, Eastern District.

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