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Statute of limitations forces dismissal of asbestos lawsuit

An appellate court in New Jersey has ordered the dismissal of an asbestos lawsuit against a major oil and gasoline company. The court made the ruling after finding that the plaintiff sought to add the company to the lawsuit after the statute of limitations for civil suits had passed.

The asbestos lawsuit was filed by a man on behalf of the estate of his father, who died of mesothelioma in July of 2006. The first complaint, which was filed in March of 2007, named eight companies as defendants, alleging that they manufactured asbestos products and were therefore responsible for the father's development of mesothelioma and eventual death.

In November of 2008, the father's estate filed a second complaint. It is not known how many defendants were named in that lawsuit or why they were not named in the first complaint.

Neither of the filings included oil and gasoline company Hess as a defendant. However, at some point after both complaints were filed, the plaintiff sought to add Hess to the list of defendants. In 2010, a trial court judge ruled that Hess could be added as a defendant. Hess appealed, and a court of appeals overturned that ruling. The court found that the motion to add Hess was made after the statute of limitations, which is generally two years for a civil lawsuit, had passed, and that Hess could not be added.

The ruling reinforces an important point: it is generally a good idea to move quickly if you believe that a company or individual has caused you harm by exposing you to asbestos. An experienced mesothelioma lawyer can help you with your legal claims, giving you the time and energy you need to focus on your health.

Source: The Star-Ledger, "Court: Family of man who died from asbestos-related cancer filed lawsuit too late," Sue Epstein, Oct. 5, 2011

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