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Jury Awards $5.4 Million to Navy Vet Diagnosed with Mesothelioma

A quiet county in Oregon has received negative attention lately thanks to an increase in asbestos lawsuits and hundreds of aging homes being demolished with asbestos inside. Just last year, a county jury awarded one asbestos victim and his wife $8.75 million. Now, a local Navy vet has been awarded $5.4 million in an asbestos case against several defendants he claimed were responsible for his mesothelioma.

According to the plaintiff’s attorneys, the Navy vet was exposed to asbestos-laden insulation on ships while serving in the military from 1960 to 1964 and to asbestos-containing gaskets and packing material made by the division of the technology company while working as a pipefitter from 1965 to 1987 in Oregon and Massachusetts. The plaintiff was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2015. Because this aggressive cancer takes decades to develop, it is often diagnosed during its later stages. At the time of the verdict, doctors said the plaintiff had about six months to 1.5 years left to live.

In the trial that lasted just three weeks, jurors determined that the vet, 75, and his wife, 69, were due $813,000 in economic damages and $1.63 million in noneconomic damages for pain and suffering. For these damages, the jury found that the Navy was 65 percent at fault; the technology company was 20 percent at fault, and an unnamed company (which settled before trial) was 10 percent at fault. It was also determined that the plaintiff was five percent at fault for not wearing a respirator on the job at times when one was available. Though the Navy was found mostly responsible for the plaintiff’s mesothelioma, the military branch is immune from having to pay. However, the technology company was ordered to pay the remaining $3 million (in punitive damages).

A key piece of evidence in the case was the technology company’s failure to warn workers and the public of the dangers of asbestos for more than 50 years. The plaintiff’s attorney’s argued that the company also failed to run any asbestos-related tests. Unfortunately, any exposure to asbestos could lead to mesothelioma, so if tests revealed that there was even a hint of asbestos in the air, it could still be deadly. Experts say for some people, mesothelioma could develop after a single exposure, while others may develop the disease after repeated exposure.

Mesothelioma is a global affliction that claims the lives of as many as 43,000 people each year. In the U.S. alone, 3,000 to 4,000 new cases are diagnosed annually, showing that the U.S. population is still at risk.

It can take decades for mesothelioma to manifest, so it is important to inform your doctor of past exposure and have your health monitored regularly. If you have been exposed to asbestos, schedule an appointment to see your doctor today.

 

Sources 

Green, Aimee. "Jury Awards $5.4 Million for Man with Asbestos Cancer." OregonLive.com. Oregon Live LLC., 08 Aug. 2017. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.

Henley, S. Jane, Theodore C. Larson, and Manxia Wu. "Mesothelioma Incidence in 50 States and the District of Columbia, United States, 2003–2008." International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Health. U.S. National Library of Medicine, 22 Apr. 2013. Web. 12 Sept. 2017.