Keller asbestos case will proceed after ruling

Legal News Line Nov. 26, 2006, 5:56am

SALEM--A mechanic's asbestos-related lawsuit against three automotive suppliers was allowed to proceed after the Oregon Supreme Court recently affirmed (SC S52801) a lower court decision. The Court of Appeals had overturned a circuit court decision that disallowed the suit on grounds the statute of limitations had expired. The circuit court originally agreed to a motion for summary judgment filed by defendants Armstrong World Industries, Inc., Borg-Warner Automotive, Inc. and Tenneco Automotive Operating Company, Inc. They argued that plaintiff Lawrence Keller waited longer than two years after discovering the cause of his illness before filing suit. The Court of Appeals disagreed, holding that a reasonable juror could find that Keller neither had discovered nor should have discovered any earlier what had caused his pulmonary condition. The Supreme Court agreed with that central finding, stating that Keller did not receive a definitive medical diagnosis of the cause of his condition until the same year he filed the lawsuit. The Court concluded, "Without evidence of what plaintiff would have learned if he had inquired, we cannot say that he should have discovered that he had an asbestos-related disease more than two years before he brought this action." The case will be remanded to the circuit court for further proceedings.

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