Estate of Fournier v. Wade & Searway
Maine Insurance Guarantee Association
March 21, 2017
CategoriesStatute of Limitations
Asbestos Esophageal Cancer Good Cause Shown MIGA
Summary from the Troubh Heisler Attorneys
Mr. Fournier was a sheet metal worker for 35 years, retiring in 1990, and dying in 2010 from esophageal cancer. In 2012, Mrs. Fournier file petitions alleging that her husband's asbestos exposure in 1984 caused his cancer and death. Wade & Searway denied benefits on the basis of the claims were time-barred by the applicable statute of limitations.
Further, its insurer, Reliant, had become insolvent, and in 2001 a Pennsylvania court ordered that any claims against Reliant be brought by the end of 2003. Thus, the Maine Insurance Guarantee Association became involved in the case and argued that the MIGA statute time-barred Mrs. Fournier's claim. Mrs. Fournier argued that a 2002 amendment to the MIGA statute provided a “good cause” exception to the time bar provision that applied retroactively to her claim. Judge Goodnough agreed with Mrs. Fournier's argument, granted her petitions and awarded her benefits. MIGA appealed, and the Appellate Division found that Judge Goodnough had misconstrued the law by applying the exception retroactively and thus vacated his decision.