Book about Mesothelioma and stethoscope on a table.

NJ Appeals Court Reopens Lawsuit Linking Fertilizer to Mesothelioma

A New Jersey appeals court has reopened a lawsuit from 2012 alleging that the use of Scotts lawn fertilizer caused a man to develop mesothelioma.

The decision to reopen the case came after discovering new evidence that the court believes would “probably have changed the result.” The 2014 summary judgment was in favor of Scotts.

Lorenz Brandecker filed the suit in July 2012. He claimed that his use of Scotts Turf Builder Fertilizer twice per year between 1967 and 1980 caused him to develop mesothelioma.

A National Asbestos Exposure Review report found that the Scotts Company used vermiculite in its consumer products as a filler and carrier until 2001. Between 1967 and 1980, the company used the mineral mined in Libby, Montana. The mine contained deadly asbestos.

The company mined more than 400,000 tons of the mineral from the Libbey mine during that period.

The plaintiff, Mr. Brandecker, died in 2012. His wife took over the lawsuit as executrix of the estate.

During the initial trial, Brandecker’s lawyers asked the company to provide samples of its fertilizer products that were manufactured with vermiculite in the mine. The company said it could provide a sample but could not determine when it was produced or where it came from.

In 1980 Scotts began mining its vermiculite from Virginia, South Carolina, and South Africa.

The company filed a motion for summary judgment, which was granted by the court in 2014.

A few months later, it was revealed that the company had vintage samples of its products believed to have been manufactured with the Libby vermiculite. Some of those samples were presented in a 2015 case.

In July 2015, lawyers for Brandecker’s estate reopened the case.

The trial court will determine if the plaintiff should be given time to file a motion for the summary judgment orders and the effects of the discovery violation.