Brooklyn, NY asked in Personal Injury and Gov & Administrative Law for Massachusetts

Q: I was involved in a prolonged period of exposure of Cellulube 220 onboard the USS Independence (CV-62), circa 1984.

I have become debilitatingly ill, e.g. demyelinating brain lesion, Arachnoiditis, etc, but my healthcare team and the VA do not see a causative link to my documented exposure.

1 Lawyer Answer
Tim Akpinar
Tim Akpinar
Answered

A: Thank you for your service. I'm sorry to learn about your illness stemming from exposure to Cellulube. You would get the most meaningful guidance from a law firm that handles veteran's benefits, and I don't think there is a tab for that in the Find a Lawyer section here. You could conduct your own independent searches.

When you do contact an attorney, you might want to ask them about the relevance of a recent Supreme Court decision involving hazardous substance exposure on naval vessels. It might not necessarily be directly relevant, as it involved asbestos exposure and your matter deals with exposure to shipboard hydraulic fluids.

The name of the decision is Air and Liquid Systems Corp, et al, v. DeVries, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 17-1104, on Writ of Certiorari to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, March 19, 2019. It involved sailors who were exposed to asbestos aboard the U.S.S. Wanamassa, U.S.S. Commodore, and U.S.S. Turner. They brought third party actions against the manufacturers of shipboard components that required asbestos packing.

The manufacturers argued that their components did not come with asbestos. But the Supreme Court held that a product manufacturer has a duty to warn when (i) its product requires incorporation of a part, (ii) the manufacturer knows or has reason to know that the integrated product is likely to be dangerous for its intended uses, and (iii) the manufacturer has no reason to believe that the product’s users will realize that danger.

Your attorney may or may not find the decision useful. Conceptually, it is not identical to your situation. But it is a very recent decision from the nation's highest court and if there are third party contractors or manufacturers involved, I hope it could be helpful to you if your attorney finds it relevant.

Good luck,

Tim Akpinar

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