On March 18, 2009, a New Jersey Appellate Court ruled against two companies which had tried to compel an autopsy of a man who had just died of mesothelioma. To make matters worse, the two companies, Honeywell and Chrysler, did this between the time his family and friends had just departed from Spotswood, New Jersey, gravesides services, and the time the man’s remains were to be buried.
Harry St. John had just passed away on February 28, 2009 and the burial services were March 4, 2009. Mr. St. John contracted the fatal cancer from asbestos exposure at his father’s auto repair shop. The asbestos companies stayed the burial services after the family had left the grave site.
The court lifted the stay on the burial services and allowed Mr. St. John to be laid to rest.
While plaintiff’s lawyers have come to expect hardball tactics from asbestos defendants, this shocking litigation maneuver by Honeywell and Chrysler was a new low. The Appellate Court’s ruling was appropriate and just and hopefully puts an end to this defense strategy.