A New Jersey Appellate Court has ruled that an autopsy is not required in order to proceed with a claim against the manufacturers, suppliers and distributor of asbestos fiber. The appeals court decided that the defendants did not present a sufficient basis to prove that retrieval of lung tissue from the deceased workers' body would lead to obtaining significance evidence for use at trial. It was alleged that the former auto-repair worker had died of mesothelioma as a result of exposure to products containing asbestos fiber.
Furthermore, since the trial in the matter had been scheduled to commence within two weeks of the death of the worker, the Court also held that the trial preparation in the claim was , "... in no way hampered by the denial of their [defendant's] request for a limited autopsy."
Defendants in the claim, including Chrysler Motor Corp and Honeywell International, obtained a Court Order to bar the funeral minutes before the burial of the deceased asbestos worker. On review, following an evidentary hearing, the Appellate Court denied the request by the defendant's for a limited autopsy of the deceased worker.
New Jersey ranks second highest in the nation for asbestos related deaths. Over 10,000 workers each year continue to die from asbestos related disease. Asbestos is not yet banned in the United States.
Harold St. John v. Affinia Group, Inc., et al., NJ Appellate Division, March 3, 2009.