A small victory occurred when a Louisiana court allowed a worker diagnosed with mesothelioma to continue a negligence claim against his former employer.
Sentilles v. Pelnor LLC: What Constitutes Coverage for Mesothelioma?
In late 2020, Robert Stephen Sentilles was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma.
Soon after. Sentilles filed a suit against several defendants he blames for exposing him to asbestos between the 1950s and 1980s. One of those defendants, Pelnor LLC, filed a motion against Sentilles to dismiss the claim.
Pelnor argued that Sentilles could not file a suit against them for any exposure that occurred after September 1, 1975, the date that mesothelioma became covered by the Louisiana Workers’ Compensation Act (LWCA).
The Court’s Ruling
The court, however, felt different. They acknowledged that mesothelioma represents a long latency claim, and it is not “divisible when exposure straddles the date that the LWCA became effective.”
Most of Sentilles’ exposure came from two reasons:
- He was exposed secondhand to asbestos from his father and brothers when they worked at the Avondale Shipyards and,
- Through his past employment: he worked at Avondale Shipyards himself from 1969 to 1972. He also worked at Pelnor from 1974 through 1983.
Still, according to the court, Sentilles named a “single legal wrong” that happened before 1975 and that this wrong was not “divisible.” Also, there is the possibility that a jury could conclude from Pelnor’s “alleged negligence” regarding asbestos-related injuries after 1975 that Sentilles’ exposure still happened before 1975.
Because of these facts, the court ruled to dismiss Pelnor’s motion. Now Sentilles can pursue his claim for his work-related asbestos disease case.
What This Means For Mesothelioma-Sufferers Exposed On the Job
Because mesothelioma usually manifests itself years after initial exposure, it may be challenging to decide which statute applies and what injuries and illnesses are covered.
Usually, mesothelioma cases end up in a trial or settle out of court. Pelnor attempted to dismiss Sentilles’ claim before it could even end up in a trial amongst a jury, but the court dismissed Pelnor’s motion.
Like Sentilles, you have a right to file a claim against your former or current employer and fight for compensation to ease your pain, financial distress, and suffering.
What About Family-Related Exposure?
While this is a win for Sentilles, the fact remains that he was exposed to asbestos through past employment and secondhand exposure from his family members.
While work-related asbestos exposure is common, another group is slowly gaining recognition: family members of those workers whose exposure is called “secondary exposure.” These cases often happen when family or construction workers bring asbestos home through tiny fibers attached to their bodies.
For more information on family exposure, download our free guide and see how we can help you.
We Are Here For You
Whether from secondhand exposure or exposure on the job, you have rights.
At Landry & Swarr, we offer litigation for asbestos-related disease cases. We work to give you and your family our asbestos law experience, skills, and compassion to help you get the rights and compensation you deserve.
In fact, contact us for a free case evaluation!