Deggs v. Asbestos Corp. (Majority and Dissent)Annotate this Case
Ray Sandberg served in the United States Navy during World War II. Afterward, he worked for decades in dockyards and lumberyards. Throughout his work life, he had been exposed to asbestos. He contracted lymphoma, pleural disease and asbestosis relating to asbestos exposure. In 1999, he sued nearly 40 defendants who had some part in exposing him to asbestos. Most defendants settled; of the one that did not, Sandberg obtained a $1.5 million judgment. At age 84, Sandberg died. His daughter Judy Deggs, as personal representative of Sandberg's estate, sued additional companies that had not been named in her father's original lawsuit. The record of this case does not explain why the additional companies were not named in the 199 suit. The defendants here moved to dismiss this suit as time barred. The Court of Appeals affirmed the dismissal. On appeal, Deggs argued that the wrongful death claim she brought was a distinct statutory claim and that her injuries were not the same injuries her father suffered and sued for in 1999: her injuries were due to the loss of her father, which did not occur until he died. The Supreme Court affirmed dismissal, finding that "[a] wrongful death 'action accrues at the time of death' so long as there is 'a subsisting cause of action in the deceased' at the time of death subject to exceptions no present here." The Court found insufficient cause to abandon that well-established precedent in this case.