Pfizer Appeals Asbestos Lawsuit

Pfizer Inc., a large pharmaceutical company, is petitioning the U.S. Supreme Court for immunity from asbestos claims made against its subsidiary, Quigley Co. The subsidiary is a bankrupt company that once made asbestos-containing products for the steel industry. The company ceased most operations in 1992. Quigley allegedly stopped making asbestos containing products in the 1970s. Pfizer purchased the company in 1968. Yet, Pfizer contends that it played no part in either making or selling the asbestos-containing products that Quigley produced. According to an article in Bloomberg, the U.S. Supreme Court justices recently asked the Obama administration for advice regarding how to respond to Pfizer's appeal. A ruling by a federal appeals court in New York said the claims against Pfizer could go forward. The steel industry used asbestos abundantly, usually to help protect employees from fire and heat they are exposed to in metal working. Ironically, the same material used to keep workers safe from injury is the material that caused a deadly injury in the end. Asbestos is a dangerous carcinogen that causes mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. When asbestos-containing products are damaged through regular wear and tear, airborne particles may break free and form a dust. When asbestos dust is inhaled, the particles can become embedded in the lung tissue and other parts of the body, eventually causing mesothelioma. Pfizer argues that Quigley’s bankruptcy proceedings shield the drug maker from lawsuits filed in asbestos injury cases related to products made by its subsidiary unit, according to Bloomberg. Since 1999, a Baltimore law firm has been suing Pfizer for asbestos-related claims. The law firm alleged that because the Pfizer logo is on Quigley products that contained asbestos and caused asbestos-related injuries, Pfizer was liable for those injuries. The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the appeal will determine the fate of many mesothelioma victims and their families. Reference: Stohr, Greg.  (January 14, 2013). “Pfizer Gets High Court Inquiry on Asbestos Suit Shield.” Retrieved on Jan. 14 from Bloomberg.com Previous: Five Types of Mesothelioma: Testicular Mesothelioma Next: Asbestos abatement costs slow Ohio demolition plans