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In this era of per curium opinions and the predictable life cycle of a case from birth to split baby, it can be hard to find inspiration. As a corrective, or maybe just a nostalgic interlude, I offer the odyssey of one Rudolph Eisner, solo practitioner.

In 1938, a man by the name of Thomas Hughes was fired from his job at  Eureka Flint & Spar Company, a Trenton business that pulverized minerals for use in the manufacture of pottery. At the time of his dismissal, Hughes was suffering from silicosis, a debilitating lung disease caused by inhaling fine particles of silica dust. Even now there is no cure for silicosis. In 1938, there were few treatment options and very few means by which a worker in Hughes’ position could obtain financial assistance. The workers compensation law did not then cover occupational diseases such as silicosis, and the Social Security Act did not provide benefits for disabled workers until 1956. There were many barriers to a suit in tort, not the least of which was the statute of limitations, which was traditionally held to accrue as soon as the injury occurred. In an occupational exposure case, that meant upon first exposure to the injury-causing substance and in Hughes’ case, that implied that his claim was long time-barred.

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