Segal McCambridge Prevails On Appeal Vacating $2.5M Judgment In New York City Asbestos Litigation


May 30, 2013

The New York State Appellate Division, First Department, vacated a $2.5M judgment entered against The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey in an asbestos personal injury action. Plaintiffs’ decedent, George Andrucki, worked as a sheet metal worker during the initial construction of The World Trade Center, where he believed he was exposed to asbestos. Mr. Andrucki was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and later died. Plaintiff commenced a wrongful death action against the Port Authority, claiming the agency failed to provide a safe place to work for Mr. Andrucki. The Port Authority filed a motion to dismiss at the commencement of the trial.  The lower court did not rule on the motion during the pendency of the trial. The Port Authority refused to participate in the trial, arguing that Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the Port Authority’s “Suability Statute,” which governs the commencement of suits against the Port Authority, deprived the Court of subject matter jurisdiction. The trial settled against the other parties, after which the Court denied the Port Authority’s motion, held that the Port Authority was in default, and entered judgment in the amount of $2,500,000.

Segal McCambridge, on behalf of the Port Authority, appealed these rulings on multiple grounds, arguing both that the finding of subject matter jurisdiction was erroneous and that the judgment entered was arbitrary. In a decision and order dated May 28, 2013, the appellate court reversed the lower court rulings and determined that Plaintiffs’ failure to comply with the statute deprived the lower court of jurisdiction over the Port Authority. The Court vacated the full judgment in the amount of $2,500,000 and dismissed the complaint against the Port Authority.

The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey was represented at trial and on the appeal by Segal McCambridge shareholder Christian H. Gannon and associates W. Simone Nicholson, David S. Kostus, and Kevin W. Turbert. Weitz & Luxenberg, P.C. represented the Estate of George Andrucki.