After a four-week trial and two days of jury deliberations, a New York jury returned its verdict on June 16, 2014 in favor of the plaintiffs in two cases in which the men alleged that the defendant was responsible for them developing mesothelioma due to their asbestos exposure. The two mesothelioma cases were consolidated for trial: the 72-year-old plaintiff was awarded $5 million for his past pain and suffering and $10 million for his future pain and suffering, and the estate of the other plaintiff, who was 74 when he died in August 2013, was awarded $10 million for pain and suffering.
The defendant corporation was found by the New York jury to have acted recklessly and with conscious disregard for the safety of the two plaintiffs and similarly situated individuals. The defendant, which manufactured valves, pumps, and boilers, was alleged to have specified and recommended to its customers to use specifically identified products that contained asbestos, in conjunction with its own products, and that the defendant had knowledge as early as the 1930s that asbestos could kill.
The 72-year-old plaintiff testified during trial that he was regularly exposed to asbestos while working as a union electrician in New York, from 1962 to 1972, when he was working on new construction, renovation projects, and repairs to New York City schools and high-rise buildings. His alleged that his asbestos exposure was direct when he handled electrical products and was indirect when others applied asbestos-containing insulation to boilers, pumps, valves, and other equipment in his presence. He was diagnosed with asbestosis in 1997 and then diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma in 2012.
The 74-year-old man was exposed to asbestos in his native Curacao, before he came to the United States in 1967. From 1957 to 1964, he was a pipe fitter and electrician at a water distillation plant and oil refinery. There, he would install, repair, and renovate valves manufactured by the defendant. His work responsibilities included changing asbestos-containing custom-made gaskets fashioned from materials containing 75% to 85% asbestos, which he would form by using a hammer and by cutting the material, which caused clouds of asbestos to form. He also applied and later removed asbestos insulation from the values.
The 74-year-old man was formerly a marathon runner, swimmer, and racquetball player, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma in late 2012. His suffering during the last four months of his life, when he was essentially bedridden and unable to feed himself, was also marked by his severe struggle to breathe.
What Causes Mesothelioma?
According to the American Cancer Society website, “Asbestos exposure is the main cause of mesothelioma. After these fibers are breathed in, they travel to the ends of small air passages and reach the pleura, where they can damage mesothelial cells. This leads to inflammation and scarring. This may damage cells’ DNA and cause changes that result in uncontrolled cell growth. If swallowed, these fibers can reach the abdominal cavity where they have a role in causing peritoneal mesothelioma. But most people exposed to asbestos, even in large amounts, do not get mesothelioma. Other factors, such as a person’s genes, may make them more likely to develop mesothelioma when exposed to asbestos.”
If you or a loved one have (or had) mesothelioma, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses.
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