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Carbonaro v. Johns-Manville Corp.

United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
526 F. Supp. 260 (1981)


Facts

In 1979, multiple workers (plaintiffs) sued multiple manufacturers—including Owens-Corning Fiberglas (defendant)—in state court in Pennsylvania to recover damages for contracting various asbestos-induced lung diseases after being exposed to asbestos because of the manufacturers’ alleged misdeeds and negligence. In January 1981, the manufacturers filed motions for summary judgment on the grounds that the action was time-barred by the statute of limitations. Rather than oppose the summary judgment motions, the workers filed a separate lawsuit against the same manufacturers in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and added claims for transverse-colon cancers. In May 1981, judgment was entered for all the manufacturers in the state-court action. Thereafter, the manufacturers asked the federal district court to dismiss that action on res judicata (claim preclusion) grounds. The workers opposed the motion and argued that because they alleged admiralty jurisdiction, the doctrine of laches and not limitations controlled and their current cancer claims were not discoverable at the time of the state-court action, nor were they grounds for the limitations’ dismissal.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Giles, J.)

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