Robert G. McCoy
Mark R. Penney
Attorneys for Appellees
David A. Temple
Attorney for John Crane, Inc.
Thomas W. Hayes
Long Grove, IL
Attorney for John Crane, Inc.
Thomas S. Ehrhardt
Crown Point, IN
Attorney for WTI Rust Holdings, Inc.
Appellant (Plaintiff below ),v.
GARLOCK, INC., A.C. AND S., INC., ANCHOR PACKING CO., A.W. CHESTERTON CO., ILLINOIS
INSULATION CO., JOHN CRANE CO., J.P. BUSHNELL PACKING & SUPPLY, LUSE-STEVENSON CO., METROPOLITAN
LIFE INSURANCE CO., NORTH AMERICAN REFRACTORIES, OWENS-CORNING FIBERGLAS CORP., PITTSBURGH CORNING CORP., PAUL
J. KREZ CO., PPG INDUSTRIES, RAPID AMERICAN CORP., SWINDELL-DRESSLER INTERNATIONAL CO., W.R. GRACE
& CO.-CONN., WTI RUST HOLDINGS, INC., DAVY MCKEE EQUIPMENT CORP.,
Appellees (Defendants below).
) Supreme Court No.
March 25, 2003
Mr. Jurich was diagnosed with mesothelioma on October 10, 1996, more than ten
years after his retirement from Inland Steel. On April 3, 1997, he
and his wife, Carole Jurich, filed a complaint against numerous defendants seeking personal
injuries and loss of consortium. Mr. Jurich died of mesothelioma on November
19, 1997. Carole Jurich subsequently amended the complaint to allege that his
death had been caused by the same exposure to asbestos.
The Indiana General Assembly has enacted two statutes that limit the period of time within which individuals can file product liability claims. One of these statutes, Ind. Code § 34-20-3-1, generally applies to product liability claims and establishes a ten-year period of repose; we will refer to this statute as Section 1. The second statute, Ind. Code § 34-20-3-2, specifically applies to certain asbestos liability claims; we will refer to this section as Section 2. (We note that prior to recodification in 1998, Sections 1 and 2 appeared at Ind. Code § 33-1-1.5-5 and § 33-1-1.5-5, respectively.)
In the present case, the Defendants argue that Section 2 only applies to
a limited class of defendants and that they do not fall within that
class. As such, certain Defendants contend that Ms. Jurich must proceed against
them under the more time restrictive Section 1.
See footnote Ms. Jurich responds
that even if she is not permitted to proceed against the Defendants under
ction 2, Section 1 is unconstitutional under both Article I, § 12, and
Article I, § 23 of the Indiana Constitution.
The trial court agreed with the Defendants that Section 2 did not apply
to them and that the Section 1 statute of repose had expired prior
to the accrual of Mr. Jurichs claims.
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the summary judgment order and found that
Section 2 did not apply to the Defendants but then found the statute
of repose to be unconstitutional as applied under Article I, § 12, of
the Indiana Constitution. Jurich v. Garlock, Inc., 759 N.E.2d 1066, 1077 (Ind.
Ct. App. 2001).
We hold today in AlliedSignal v. Ott, No. 02S04-0111-CV-599 (Ind. Mar. 25, 2003), that the Legislature consciously intended to subject to Section 2 only those entities that produce raw asbestos, while leaving those who sell asbestos-containing products within the ambit of Section 1. See footnote We also hold that the statutory scheme does not violate either art. I, § 12 or art. I, § 23, except in the limited circumstance where a reasonably experienced physician could have diagnosed the plaintiff with an asbestos-related illness or disease within the ten-year statute of repose, yet the potential plaintiff had no reason to know of the diagnosable condition until the ten-year period had expired.
Our reasoning in that case applies here, and we reach the same result:
since the ev
idence did not demonstrate that any of the Defendants both
mined and sold commercial asbestos, Section 2 did not apply. Since the
Juriches claims do not fall under Section 2, the general ten-year statute of
repose found in Section 1 applies. Given that the Juriches claims were
filed after the expiration of the period of repose, summary judgment for the
Defendants was proper unless a reasonably experienced physician could have diagnosed Mr. Jurich
with an asbestos-related illness or disease within the ten-year statute of repose, yet
Mr. Jurich had no reason to know of the diagnosable condition until the
ten-year period had expired. We direct the trial court to examine this
possibility on remand.
Asbestos-related cancer does not manifest itself until ten to twenty-five years after exposure.
I believe that the General Assembly, for reasons of compassion, fairness, and
justice enacted Indiana Code § 34-20-3-2 to provide relief for all asbestos victims
from the general ten-year statute of repose in the Indiana Product Liability Act.
Consistent with this legislative intent, I believe that the phrase "persons who
mined and sold" means "persons who mined and persons who sold" and that
"commercial asbestos" includes not only raw asbestos but also asbestos in commercial products.
I further believe that, under the majority's restrictive construction of this section,
application of the product liability statute of repose to the plaintiff's claims violates
both Section 12 and Section 23 of Art
icle 1 of the Indiana Constitution.
My reasons are detailed in Allied Signal, Inc. v. Ott, ___ N.E.2d
___ (Ind. 2003) (Dickson, J., dissenting).
RUCKER, J., concurs.