On appeal from Superior Court, Law Division, Middlesex County.
Antell and Ashbey. Antell, P.J.A.D.
Plaintiff Walter Wanner sues defendants asbestos manufacturers to recover damages for pleural asbestosis contracted from exposure to defendants' products. His wife sues per quod. They now appeal by our leave granted from an order for summary judgment dated February 9, 1989, dismissing the complaint as to all but two defendants on the ground that it was filed beyond the period prescribed by the statute of limitations, N.J.S.A. 2A:14-2, for the bringing of personal injury actions.
Between the years 1950 and 1985 plaintiff worked as a building insulation installer. Commencing around March 1963 and continuing until 1983 he underwent periodic physical examinations to monitor the effects of his exposure to asbestos products. The examinations were performed as part of a study conducted by Dr. Irving J. Selikoff, a professor of medicine at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. Plaintiff appears to have undergone a total of eight examinations during this period.
It was Dr. Selikoff's practice to correspond with plaintiff after the examinations to communicate his findings. On December 28, 1984, the doctor wrote to plaintiff concerning the results of his examination conducted 14 months earlier, in
October 1983. Because defendants contend that the period of limitations was thereby triggered, we reproduce its contents in its entirety:
We have again reviewed the results of your examination in Paterson last year and are writing so that you might note for your records that these were very satisfactory.
Thus, while your chest x-ray showed some scarring of the sort we commonly find following asbestos insulation work, this was limited in extent and not accompanied by any of the serious complications we occasionally encounter, that would give us immediate concern.
Results of the pulmonary function tests show some decrement, including that seen in the FVC (forced vital capacity), a test which tends to reflect lung scarring. A copy is attached for your convenience; you may wish to share this with Dr. Rizvi.
Findings in the standard blood and urine tests showed nothing unusual; these, too, are being sent to you.
We were pleased to note that no previously undetected significant abnormality was discovered in ...