Maryland’s highest court is weighing whether to give workers who were sickened by asbestos exposure more time to sue their employers.
State law now allows 20 years for workers or their families to make claims regarding illness or death from exposure to asbestos. But a case heard Friday by the Maryland Court of Appeals in Annapolis involves a steamfitter, James F. Piper, who worked at a Maryland power plant in the 1970s and died more than four decades later from mesothelioma.
Advocates say that if Piper’s estate wins the case, it could potentially open the door to lawsuits from others in similar situations who did not get sick until after the deadline to sue had passed. A coalition of unions and trade associations says the number could be in the tens of thousands of cases.
Those arguing to defeat it say such a ruling would give the court the power to change state law, and open the door to new liability for many companies.
Piper was a steamfitter at the Morgantown Generating Station in Charles County, where he worked near a Westinghouse turbine that was being insulated with asbestos in 1970. He was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2013 and died the next year.
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