We’ve had a number of cases that ended up at the Court of Appeals in Albany. One of the decisions that I’m proud of was a case that had to do with people who worked on the tops and sides of the coke ovens at Bethlehem Steel. Watch this video by dedicated mesothelioma attorney John N. Lipsitz to learn more about our experience with mesothelioma lawsuit appeals.

The attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford have argued a number of cases before the New York Court of Appeals in Albany.  Attorney John N. Lipsitz discusses one of these decisions in this video.  This case involved people who worked on the tops and sides of the coke ovens at Bethlehem Steel.

There were three coke oven operations in Western New York: Allied Chemical, which became Tonawanda Coke on River Road, Donna Hanna in South Buffalo near Republic Steel, and nine coke oven batteries at Bethlehem Steel, which made coke out of coal in order to use as fuel. Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford represented the larry car driver workers.

Image Courtesy of Steel Plant Museum of Western New York, image of a blast furnace larry car at the Republic Steel Buffalo Plant.

The ovens were heated to a high temperature to drive out all the impurities from the coal. That created emissions of gas and dust that were highly toxic. This caused the men working there to develop lung cancer at about ten times the rate of people in the general population.

The coke manufacturer claimed they had no duty to warn workers about the effects of inhaling these emissions. Their argument was that coke ovens are not products in the sense that asbestos is a product or a BIC lighter is a product or a drill gun is a product.

The trial court in Buffalo rejected the manufacturer’s argument, finding in favor of the workers. The issue went up the Appellate Division in Rochester where the court reversed the judge in Buffalo.

Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford petitioned the Court of Appeals in Albany to hear the case, and they granted the petition, which is very rare. Only one in several hundred petitions are granted. The New York Court of Appeals reinstated the ruling of the lower court holding that manufacturers of coke ovens do in fact have a duty to warn about the latent dangers of a high the machinery it sells – even if its machines are very large, or are constructed into a larger building.  This decision is a victory for common sense and for the rights of New Yorkers injured by industrial negligence. https://www.lipsitzponterio.com/new-york-state-court-of-appeals-holds-manufacturers-of-coke-ovens-have-duty-to-warn/

You can read the full decision here: https://www.nycourts.gov/ctapps/Decisions/2019/Jun19/36opn19-Decision.pdf.

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Since 1995, the attorneys at Lipsitz, Ponterio & Comerford, LLC have been helping clients in Buffalo, Rochester, and Syracuse, NY, who have been injured due to asbestos exposure. Through our tireless efforts, we have helped to shape and reform asbestos laws throughout the state of New York. We have a full team of lawyers devoted to representing people exposed to asbestos.

If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or lung cancer, please contact us today and we will schedule an appointment to come to your home and meet with you and your family to explain your legal rights.