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Maryland Court Upholds $7.2 Million Verdict in Couple’s Mesothelioma Lawsuit

A Maryland appellate court has upheld a $7.2 million verdict in favor of a former steamfitter who said his mesothelioma was caused by exposure to asbestos insulation products. In the case, the steamfitter (plaintiff) stated that he was exposed to asbestos insulation while working on a construction project at a local high school. Although he did not install the insulation, the plaintiff says that he spent 70% of his three to four months working in the school’s boiler room, where insulation contractors were installing items that contained asbestos. This exposure, claimed the plaintiff, later resulted in his mesothelioma diagnosis.

According to the United States Department of Labor, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA):

“There is no "safe" level of asbestos exposure for any type of asbestos fiber. Asbestos exposures as short in duration as a few days have caused mesothelioma in humans. Every occupational exposure to asbestos can cause injury of disease; every occupational exposure to asbestos contributes to the risk of getting an asbestos related disease.”

 “Heavy exposures tend to occur in the construction industry and in ship repair, particularly during the removal of asbestos materials due to renovation, repairs, or demolition. Workers are also likely to be exposed during the manufacture of asbestos products (such as textiles, friction products, insulation, and other building materials) and during automotive brake and clutch repair work.”

“Where there is exposure, employers are required to further protect workers by establishing regulated areas, controlling certain work practices and instituting engineering controls to reduce the airborne levels. The employer is required to ensure exposure is reduced by using administrative controls and provide for the wearing of personal protective equipment. Medical monitoring of workers is also required when legal limits and exposure times are exceeded.”

According to a Legal NewsLine report, the plaintiff and his wife were initially “awarded $14.5 million in damages, which the Circuit Court later lowered to $7.2 million because of cross-claims against defendants who weren’t present.” The defendant appealed. In response to the appeal, the plaintiff was able to provide time sheets and partial billing statements as evidence—evidence that the appeals court said “was enough.”

It was noted that while it doesn’t prove that the defendant put asbestos insulation in the boiler for the boiler room of the school, “the evidence did show that it was pretty probable that” the defendant “was liable and responsible for the work.”

In one of its many arguments to the court, the defendant said the “Circuit Court erred in connection with its instruction to the jury about the evidentiary weight of” the plaintiff’s “interrogatory responses and statements” in his complaints. The defendant said the court’s instructions were “watered-down, incorrect statements of law.”

“The appeals court disagreed and said it’s actually an accurate statement of law and the Circuit Court most likely provided the instruction to reduce any jury confusion.”

If you have been exposed to asbestos in the workplace, see your doctor right away. Your doctor can refer you to a specialist who will assess your risk of developing mesothelioma. He can also set up a monitoring plan that could help catch the disease in its early stages.

Although there is no cure for mesothelioma, early detection could lead to better outcomes. See your doctor to assess your risk today.

 

Sources

“Asbestos.” Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). United States Department of Labor, 2014. Web. 06 Feb. 2019.

Little, Charmaine. “Maryland court upholds $7.2 million award to couple over husband's mesothelioma diagnosis.” Legal NewsLine, Legal NewsLine, 10 Oct. 2018. Web. 06 Feb. 2019.