Third Circuit Reinstates Asbestos Claims Against Ship Owners

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A group of ship owners will face maritime asbestos exposure lawsuits, filed by the estates of two merchant marines, reinstated by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit on April 9, 30 years, after thousands of lawsuits were filed against shipowners.

According to the opinion submitted by Chief Judge D. Brooks Smith, the dispute triggered from an order passed by an Ohio federal judge in 1989, which granted the defendants (shipowners) the option of either agree about jurisdiction transfer to Pennsylvania or waive their personal jurisdiction defense and stay in the Northern District of Ohio. The third circuit found that, although the shipowners did not particularly waive their defense, their consequent actions indicated waiving that defense. "The district court's conclusion that the shipowners did not waive that defense was an improper application of law to fact," told Judge Smith. The shipowners indicated the chances of waiving the defense in October 1989 and asked for additional time to make a decision between jurisdiction transfer and waiving personal jurisdiction. But, they failed to pursue the defense in that court.

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