(Mesothelioma News) – Juror admits switching sides to speed deliberations in case involving lung cancer victim’s asbestos exposure at work.
The widow of a New Jersey subway worker is seeking a new trial in her asbestos-related lawsuit after a juror admitted to siding with his employer in order to bring the case to a speedy close.
Anne Olson, of Palisades Park, is seeking $1.3 million in damages from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. It operates the PATH subway system where her husband, Alan, had been employed as a maintenance and sanitation worker.
He died of lung cancer in 2004 at the age of 47. In her lawsuit, Olson alleges that the disease was brought on by her husband’s exposure to asbestos particles at work. Asbestos exposure has long been linked to lung cancer and other deadly diseases like mesothelioma, a cancer of the protective lining covering many of the body’s internal organs.
The widow’s lawsuit-brought under the Federal Employers’ Liability Act-alleges that the Port Authority failed in its duty by not providing her husband a safe working environment or properly warning him about the increased risk for lung cancer that asbestos exposure brings.
Asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma can remain dormant for decades after exposure. By the time they are diagnosed, the prognosis is almost always grim. Long-term asbestos exposure carries increased risks for workers continually in contact with the material as part of their employment. Alan Olson had worked for the Port Authority for 18 years.
The jury voted 7-1 against Anne Olson on March 16.
In his motion for a new trial, Gregory Shaffer, an asbestos and mesothelioma lawyer with Wilentz, Goldman & Spitzer, of Woodbridge, N.J., cited an e-mail he received March 22 from a juror who is not identified in the brief.
In the e-mail, the juror states, “Everything that was presented to us, I had in your favor.” The juror then says that while the panel felt Olson’s smoking habit contributed to his lung cancer, so did the asbestos. He adds: “I wish I would’ve kept my vote for the family. I think about it every day. It shouldn’t be like that. . . . Then I feel like we would’ve never gotten out of there.”
Even if the juror had voted with Olson, the Port Authority would not have prevailed. Under New Jersey law, a 6-2 vote would not have been sufficient for a verdict.