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Lawn Fertilizer Linked to Man's Mesothelioma, Court Reopens Wrongful Death Suit

Could something as widely used as lawn fertilizer cause mesothelioma? According to a recently reopened wrongful death suit, it can.

The original suit, brought on behalf of the victim, claimed that the deceased used the fertilizer twice a year on his lawn from 1967 to 1980, and that it contributed to his mesothelioma.

According to a report by the New Jersey Law Journal (NJLJ), years ago, the manufacturer of the popular lawn fertilizer made its product with vermiculite ore from a mine in Libby, Montana, that contained asbestos. In the original wrongful death suit (brought July 2012), the manufacturer was asked to produce samples of the fertilizer made with vermiculite from Libby. Per NJLJ, “The company responded that it had a sample of Turf Builder containing vermiculite, but it could not determine when it was made or where the vermiculite came from. Expert testimony by four witnesses for the plaintiff was partly or completely excluded by the trial judge,” and the defendant “was granted summary judgment in January 2014.”

That same year, the manufacturer “discovered” 26 samples of its fertilizer from before 1980 that were made from vermiculite ore obtained from the Montana mine. Counsel for the victim’s estate argued that the samples constituted newly discovered evidence and that the manufacturers “answers to discovery and failure to disclose the samples constituted misrepresentation.” Based on this, counsel moved, in July 2015, to vacate their summary judgment dismissal and requested to restore the case to the active docket.

Though the first request was denied, on appeal, three judges “ruled that the plaintiffs met the conditions for vacating final judgment based on newly discovered evidence which would probably alter the judgment or orders and whether, by due diligence, it could not be discovered in time to move for a new trial. They vacated the final judgment based on the new evidence related to the 26 samples.”

In addition to the fertilizer company, the suit named several companies that contributed to the victim’s mesothelioma. The suit alleged that the deceased, a cabinetmaker, was exposed to asbestos at these companies while working with building and packaging products. The parties involved eventually entered into a confidential settlement. The victim died in October 2012.

If you have been exposed to asbestos, see your doctor right away. Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better treatment options and outcomes.

 

Sources

Law.com. ALM Media Properties LLC., 2018. Web. 08 Mar. 2018.

Toutant, Charles. "Court Grants New Chance for Suit Linking Lawn Fertilizer, Mesothelioma." New Jersey Law Journal. ALM Media Properties LLC., 26 Feb. 2018. Web. 08 Mar. 2018.