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Wygant v. General Electric Co.

Superior Court of Pennsylvania

March 19, 2015

ELIZABETH WYGANT, ADMINISTRATRIX OF THE ESTATE OF MARGARET H. KLAN, DECEASED, Appellant
v.
GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY; HUNTER SALES CORPORATION; READING CRANE & ENGINEERING CO., Appellees

Argued December 14, 2014

Appeal from the Orders of the Court of Common Pleas, Allegheny County, Civil Division, No(s): G.D. 14-000269. Before COLVILLE, J.

John R. Kane, Pittsburgh, for appellant.

BEFORE: BENDER, P.J.E., BOWES, and ALLEN, JJ.

OPINION

Page 311

BOWES, J.

This appeal involves the timeliness of an asbestos-related wrongful death action in light of our High Court's decision in Commonwealth v. Neiman, 84 A.3d 603 (Pa. 2013), which struck down Act 152 and its statute of limitations for asbestos actions, 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524.1, as violative of the Single Subject Rule of the Pennsylvania Constitution. Elizabeth Wygant, administratrix (" Administratrix" ) of the Estate of Margaret H. Klan, deceased, (" Decedent" ) appeals from the orders entered March 19 and 20, 2014, granting judgment on the pleadings in favor of General Electric Company, Hunter Sales Corporation, and Reading Crane & Engineering Co. (collectively " GE" ), based upon the court's finding that the action was time-barred under 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(8). After thorough review, we affirm.

Decedent was diagnosed with mesothelioma on June 17, 2011. She died from the disease thirteen months later on July 9, 2012. Decedent did not commence an action for her asbestos-related injuries during her lifetime. On January 9, 2014, more than two years after the mesothelioma diagnosis but less than two years after Decedent's death, Administratrix filed the instant wrongful death and survival actions. GE filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings based upon the statute of limitations, which was granted following oral argument. Administratrix timely appealed. She does not contest that trial court's ruling that the survival action is time-barred, but challenges the trial court's application of 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(8) to bar her wrongful death claim. Specifically, she questions:

1. Whether 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(8) is the current law of Pennsylvania regarding the statute of limitations in asbestos cases.

Page 312

2. Whether 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(8) overruled the prior case law which held that the statute of limitations in an asbestos action for a wrongful death claim began to run from the date of death if that death occurred within two years of the date of diagnosis.
3. Whether 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(8) is ambiguous, thus necessitating an investigation into the legislative intent to only change the statute of limitations for the survival claim.
4. Whether 42 Pa.C.S. ยง 5524(8) permits the running of the statute of limitations before a right to ...

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