On July 23, 2016, the Pound Institute for Civil Justice presented its 2016 Appellate Advocacy Award to Rosenthal Weiner LLP attorney Brent Rosenthal and to co-recipients Scott Marshall of the Nemeroff Law Firm and Bob Daley of Robert Peirce & Associates for their work resulting in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Tooey v. AK Steel Corp., 81 A.3d 851 (Pa. 2013). In Tooey, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court held that workers who developed asbestos-related cancer decades after their workplace exposure—and who were therefore ineligible for benefits under the time limitations of the workers’ compensation statute—could nevertheless bring a negligence suit against their employers under Pennsylvania common law. The employers argued that they were shielded from common-law liability by a section in the workers’ compensation act providing that the Act was the “exclusive remedy” for work-related injuries (even though the Act itself barred recovery), but the court rejected the argument. The court found it “inconceivable that the legislature, in enacting a statute specifically designed to benefit employees, intended to leave a certain class of employees who have suffered the most serious of work-related injuries without any redress under the Act or at common law.” The Tooey decision has been haled as “a triumph over an unreasonable and impersonal statute.”
The Pound Institute’s Appellate Advocacy Award is given annually to lawyers “who have been instrumental in securing a final appellate court decision with significant impact on the right to trial by jury, public health and safety, consumer rights, access to justice in civil cases, or other issues relevant to the work of the Pound Institute.” Rosenthal, Marshall, and Daley received the award at the Pound Institute’s Fellows Reception in Los Angeles, California, held in conjunction with the annual convention of the American Association for Justice.