New Jersey court says hola to Spanish workers’ asbestos case — Business Management Daily: Free Reports on Human Resources, Employment Law, Office Management, Office Communication, Office Technology and Small Business Tax Business Management Daily

New Jersey court says hola to Spanish workers’ asbestos case

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A state appellate panel has ruled that 15 Spanish workers will be allowed to sue Owens-Illinois, Inc. in New Jersey state court. The case involves asbestos contamination that allegedly occurred aboard U.S. Navy ships docked in Spain.

The ruling reversed a lower court’s dismissal of the workers’ suit, which said New Jersey courts lacked jurisdiction.

Mitchell Cohen, a lawyer for the workers, said New Jersey is the only place the case could be tried. “Spanish law will not allow [plaintiffs], under the facts of these cases, to file a claim in Spain” because the injuries occurred on sovereign U.S. territory—the Navy warships.

The plaintiffs worked for private contractors between 1950 and 1998 at a jointly-owned U.S.-Spanish military installation in Rota, Spain, or at neighboring private shipyards. The ships’ asbestos insulation came from Owens-Illinois plants in New Jersey.

The appeals court panel ruled that the case would not unduly burden Owens-Illinois because “key corporate evidence and witnesses relating to the development, testing, marketing and sale of [asbestos products] to the U.S. government or military are more likely available in this country.”

Appellate Judge Anthony Parrillo said the lower court should have given more consideration to the workers’ choice of court.

Final note: It’s very possible your organization might be sued in a jurisdiction far from home. Always have an attorney review contracts to see if they include an inconvenient “choice of forum” clause.

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