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Debiec v. Cabot Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit
352 F.3d 117 (2003)


Debiec, Mary Russo, Geneva Bare, and John Branco (plaintiffs) worked at and/or lived near a beryllium plant operated by Cabot Corp. (defendants) and all died from Chronic Beryllium Disease (CBD). Mrs. Debiec was diagnosed with coidosis, a lung disease of unknown origin, in 1978. Mrs. Debiec’s doctor told her that she did not have CBD and did not change her diagnosis until after her death in 2000. Mrs. Debiec’s family researched CBD and attempted to persuade her that she suffered from that disease, but Mrs. Debiec relied on her physician. A lawsuit was brought on her behalf on May 29, 2001. Mrs. Russo clipped newspaper articles regarding the link between the beryllium plant and CBD beginning in April 1999. However, Mrs. Russo’s two physicians told her that her lung issues were not caused by CBD. Eventually, Mrs. Russo requested tests that confirmed that she had CBD. Those test results were received in June 1999. Mrs. Russo filed suit against the defendants on May 24, 2001. Mrs. Bare discussed the possibility of CBD with her doctor sometime in the mid to late 1990s. Her doctor stated that he did not think she had CBD and told her that the tests for CBD were unreliable. Mrs. Bare’s autopsy in November 2000 revealed that she did suffer from CBD, and a lawsuit was brought on her behalf on June 6, 2001. Mr. Branco worked for the defendants at the beryllium plant for 33 years and received information that alerted him that he was at risk for CBD in June 1995. Mr. Branco was tested for CBD in September 1997. The tests were negative, but Mr. Branco’s doctor told him that the tests were unsatisfactory. The doctor advised Mr. Branco to repeat the tests because the doctor thought that Mr. Branco had CBD. The trial court, on summary judgment, found that each of the plaintiffs’ claims were barred by the two-year statute of limitations under Pennsylvania law. The plaintiffs appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Becker, J.)

Concurrence/Dissent (Amro, J.)

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