A man from Rockdale, Texas was allowed by a judge in the Texas Multijurisdictional Litigation Court in Houston to continue with his lawsuit against his former employer, Alcoa. Alcoa petitioned to have the suit dropped since it claims that it did not intentionally harm the man who has been diagnosed with mesothelioma . The plaintiff hopes to expedite the case, because mesothelioma tends to shorten the life of those diagnosed with this fatal disease. Sufferers rarely live 18 months past their diagnosis. According to lead council Valerie Farwell, “There’s a provision of the Texas constitution that says you have the right to bring an intentional tort claim against [your] employer, while you’re alive. This is huge. It opens the door for living Alcoa claimants who might be sick with an asbestos -related disease to have their cases heard before they die.” Claims for negligence cannot be made by living claimants; rather, punitive damages have to be sought by survivors. Living victims can only seek intentional damages.
Since Alcoa feels that the victim’s mesothelioma was not intentionally caused, it believes that the case should be dropped. Had the judge upheld this view, scores of other plaintiffs would be prevented from filing suit while they were still living. By siding with the claimant, the judge kept the door open for future victims seeking compensation and damages. The basis of the suit is that during Farwell’s client’s 27 year tenure with Alcoa, the company was aware of the inherent dangers of working with asbestos, but the company chose not to disclose this information to its employees. The trial itself is set to continue in Texas courts.