Plaintiffs injured by toxic asbestos fibers will now be able to request punitive damages from the companies that put them in harm’s way in appropriate circumstances.
On April 8, Justice Sherry K. Heitler issued a decision reinstating New York asbestos plaintiffs’ ability to seek punitive damages at trial in New York City Asbestos Litigation (“NYCAL”) cases that may involve especially egregious misconduct resulting in plaintiff’s asbestos-related injuries. The order modified a provision in the NYCAL Case Management Order that, as a general rule, had deferred punitive damage claims in these asbestos cases.
Weitz & Luxenberg made the motion to permit plaintiffs to seek these claims when the evidence showed a defendant’s misconduct to have been particularly wanton, grossly negligent and reckless.
The Case Management Order had deferred the New York asbestos victim’s ability to seek punitive damages for nearly two decades. Justice Heitler’s opinion took note of the many points made both by the Weitz & Luxenberg team pressing their motion and the unified defense bar and their “amicus” supporters vigorously opposing the motion. Ultimately, however, the plaintiffs’ motion prevailed, propelled by the powerful courtroom advocacy of Perry Weitz. The new ruling, and the amended NYCAL Case Management Order, will continue to apply to all future New York City asbestos cases.