A tragic case in which a plumber died from mesothelioma, which is related to asbestos exposure, recently resulted in a verdict for his family of over $10 million. The plumber developed mesothelioma in 2012, after working as a plumber and auto mechanic. He underwent treatment for the disease for a year, but died at age 59.
His family sued Honeywell, which was responsible for manufacturing brake pads and linings which contained asbestos. His family produced evidence showing that the man, who was a race car enthusiast, had been exposed to asbestos dust since the early 1960s. He was exposed to the dust while working on cars, race cars, heavy equipment and trucks. The jury deliberated for six days before rendering a verdict. The jury awarded $7.4 million in compensatory damages, and an additional $3.5 million in punitive damages, finding that the defendant acted with reckless indifference.
Although this case is very tragic, there is some good news about asbestos exposure and mesothelioma. Gradually, over time fewer and fewer people are dying from mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, because asbestos has been outlawed in the United States.
Mesothelioma is a cancer of the mesothelium, which is the thin, protective membrane which surrounds the lungs, heart, and abdominal cavity. About 3,000 cases of mesothelioma are diagnosed each year, primarily in those who were exposed to asbestos in the past in their jobs. Mesothelioma can take 20 to 50 years after exposure in order for symptoms to show or an oncologist can make a diagnosis. Unfortunately, there is no cure for mesothelioma, and a person who is diagnosed with the condition usually has a bad prognosis.
Typically, the way mesothelioma develops is that a worker will inhale or swallow microscopic asbestos particles. The human body cannot easily get rid of the particles, and fibers can become trapped in the lining of the abdominal cavity. Another problem with mesothelioma is that the symptoms are so mild that most people don’t recognize a problem until the cancer has reached a late stage. Surgery, chemo, and radiation can help treat mesothelioma.
People who are most at risk for developing mesothelioma include those exposed to old attic and wall insulation, floor tiles, shingles, textured paint, automobile clutches and brakes, walls and floors around wood-burning stoves, steam pipes coated with asbestos, oil and coal furnaces, heat-resistant fabrics, and some military machinery. In some cases, family members who washed the clothes or lived in the home of someone who worked around asbestos developed mesothelioma. The corporations who use asbestos in their products have known of its dangerous effects for decades but did not stop including it until the U.S. Government banned it in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
Today, there are massive amounts of money in asbestos compensation funds, which some companies that used asbestos were required to establish in order to compensate those who are diagnosed with mesothelioma. Most asbestos-related cases are settled before they do to trial, but others, such as this one recently in Fresno, go to trial and are awarded a verdict. Some juries have awarded verdicts around $30 million and more in some cases – one awarded over $300 million.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s critical that you seek legal help. Mesothelioma normally doesn’t occur unless a person has been exposed to asbestos. If it can be proven that a company was responsible for asbestos exposure, the company can be held liable for damages.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that no company should be able to expose its workers to asbestos without being held accountable for the damages that occur later. If you’re in the San Francisco or Oakland area, call Micha Star Liberty, San Francisco personal injury attorney, at 510-645-1000 or 415-896-1000, San Francisco personal injury attorney. She has extensive experience with personal injury cases, and will be happy to speak with you about your situation. Call today to learn more.