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Jury Finds Against Auto Parts Manufacturer, Awards $81.5 Million to Asbestos Victim's Family

A jury has found that a major auto parts company is liable in the asbestos-related death of a heavy equipment operator who, according to a PR Newswire release, “loved restoring hot rods and classic cars.” The award, which amounted to a staggering $81.5 million to the victim’s family, is believed to be one of the largest ever awarded in the Pacific Northwest, if not the U.S.

The victim repaired backhoes and hot rods with asbestos-laden parts that he claimed the auto parts manufacturer (defendant) knew were defective. A unanimous jury agreed, finding that the defendant was negligent and strictly liable for their defective asbestos-laden parts. After years of exposure to the faulty auto parts, both at work and while restoring hot rods and classic cars as a hobby at home, the plaintiff discovered that he had developed mesothelioma—an aggressive cancer with no cure.

Mesothelioma starts in cells in the linings of certain parts of the body, especially in the linings of the chest (pleural mesothelioma) or abdomen (peritoneal mesothelioma). Per the American Cancer Society, symptoms of pleural mesothelioma can include everything from cough and excessive sweating to shortness of breath, fatigue, and chest pain. Symptoms of peritoneal mesothelioma can include abdominal pain, constipation, nausea and vomiting, swelling or fluid in the abdomen, and weight loss.

By the time the plaintiff discovered that he had mesothelioma, it was already too late. He died in 2015 at the age of 67 of complications from mesothelioma. The plaintiff’s family continued with the lawsuit, enduring a trial that lasted more than 12 weeks. However, it took just five hours for the jury to return its verdict.

Though there is no cure for mesothelioma, if caught early, it can be treated. If you have worked with asbestos in the past, or think you might have, see your doctor right away. It is important to see your doctor whether you have symptoms or not. Mesothelioma diagnosis and treatment options have come a long way over the years, so in the absence of any symptoms, your risk can be evaluated and certain tests can be performed to help detect the disease.

 

Sources

PR Newswire: News Distribution, Targeting and Monitoring. PR Newswire Association LLC., 20 Apr. 2017. Web. 24 July 2017.

"Signs and Symptoms of Mesothelioma." American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2017. Web. 17 July 2017.

"What is Mesothelioma?" American Cancer Society. American Cancer Society, Inc., 2017. Web. 17 July 2017.