Bergman Draper Oslund founder Matthew Bergman presented argument on May 15, 2018, before the Washington State Supreme Court in the case of Rublee vs. Pfizer. He argued that Pfizer was responsible for asbestos containing products supplied to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard containing the Pfizer label.
In 1968, Pfizer purchased Quigley Company, a manufacturer of asbestos-containing cements that were used throughout industry. Pfizer immediately began placing its world-renowned logo next to the Quigley logo on asbestos product advertising and packaging.
At a time when other asbestos manufacturers were affixing warnings to their products, the Pfizer-labeled asbestos products not only failed to include any warnings, but affirmatively promoted them as “non-injurious.” Quigley filed for bankruptcy in 2004, however, in 2012 a federal court held that Pfizer could face independent legal responsibility for Quigley products inscribed with the Pfizer logo where consumers reasonably understand Pfizer to be a manufacturer of those products.
Vernon Rublee worked as a machinist at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard for 15 years where he was exposed to asbestos-containing materials that caused his mesothelioma. After being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015, Vern testified that he regularly worked around bags of asbestos cement affixed with the Pfizer logo.
Mr. Rublee’s co-workers also testified that they saw the Pfizer logo on the bags of insulation and assumed the product was safe because a drug company made it. Pfizer’s name and trademark encourages trust and continues to be a household name for pharmaceutical products.
The Washington Court of Appeals found that this testimony “has little relevance to a reasonable purchaser’s understanding of the products’ manufacturer because Rublee has not shown that any of the workers had any role in any purchasing decision.”
Thereafter, the Washington Supreme Court accepted review to decide whether juries should focus on who consumers who worked around and were injured by asbestos believe to be the manufacturer or whether the focus should be on the sophisticated purchasers who bought the product for the shipyard. The Supreme Court heard argument on May 15th and will issue a written opinion in the next few months. Click here to watch the video of the argument.
To find out more about compensation for mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, contact Bergman Draper Oslund today for a free case evaluation. Our team has won more than $700 million for asbestos victims, and we’re ready to help you get the answers you need. Call (888) 647-6007 now to speak to an asbestos exposure expert.