A New York Supreme Court Justice has ruled that the asbestos exposure lawsuit of a former Elizabeth, New Jersey resident will move to trial, denying a motion for summary judgment filed by a cable manufacturer, The Okonite Company.
Leonard Shafer died at the age of 73 from mesothelioma. He was first exposed to asbestos working as an electrician at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in the 1950s. Evidence submitted by Shafer’s mesothelioma trial attorneys to the Court proves that, as early as January 10, 1941, Okonite was approved to sell asbestos-containing armored cable to the Navy. At the time of the approvals in 1941, cable manufacturers were required, under Navy Specifications, to include asbestos in heat and flame resistant, armored cable. However, military records establish that, in September 1941, cable manufacturers were given a choice whether to use asbestos or glass fiber. Despite the asbestos hazards to health, Okonite continued to sell to the Navy asbestos-containing armored cable.
Carmen St. George, a mesothelioma trial attorney in the New York and New Jersey offices of Levy Phillips & Konisberg, said that, "Mr. Shafer's death from mesothelioma could have been avoided if these companies would have acted responsibly and warned about the health hazards of asbestos. Justice Freedman's ruling properly places the factual issues surrounding Mr. Shafer's asbestos exposure where it belongs -- in the hands of the jury."
If successful, the Shafer mesothelioma case may pave the way for other litigants to proceed against Okonite for asbestos exposures into the 1950's.