A mesothelioma diagnosis can be devastating not only for the person with the disease, but also for his or her family. This rare but deadly form of cancer is caused by asbestos exposure. It can take 20 to 50 years or more for mesothelioma to develop. Once diagnosed, the prognosis is generally dire with most patients dying within 12 to 24 months.
Asbestos in the workplace
Asbestos is a mineral made of durable, fire-resistant fibers. It was widely used in construction and shipbuilding materials as well as friction products, like automotive brakes, until the 1980s or later. When working with or around asbestos-contaminated products, microscopic asbestos fibers can become airborne and be inhaled, leading to asbestos-related diseases.
Those at risk for asbestos exposure in the workplace include workers who manufactured products that contained asbestos; asbestos miners and millers; construction workers such as insulators, sheet metal workers, electricians, plumbers, pipe fitters, and carpenters; power plant workers; boilermakers; shipyard workers; firefighters; mechanics; veterans; and the family members of such workers.
Corporations knew since the early 1900s that asbestos was dangerous yet they never revealed the risks to those who worked with their products. By the early 1960s, studies firmly established the link between asbestos and mesothelioma, a link previously known.
Since many manufacturers, distributors and sellers of asbestos-containing products failed to protect workers, victims of asbestos exposure may be entitled to compensation. An experienced mesothelioma attorney can help navigate the complexities of an asbestos lawsuit.
Most asbestos lawsuits result in settlements. When cases go to trial, more than 60 percent of plaintiffs who took on asbestos industries in courtrooms in 2017 prevailed, with a median award of $2 million, according to Mealey’s Litigation Report. The largest verdict came in April, when a Washington jury awarded $81.5 million to Jerry “Doy” Coogan’s widow and two daughters. They sued Genuine Parts Co. and National Automotive Parts Association (NAPA) alleging the companies had distributed and sold asbestos-containing brake shoes and other friction products, which contributed to Coogan’s peritoneal mesothelioma diagnosis.
The second-highest asbestos verdict in 2017 was handed down in January, when a New York jury awarded $75 million to car enthusiast and drag racer Edward Robaey and his wife after finding that the asbestos fibers he was exposed to while working with contaminated automotive friction products from various manufacturers caused his mesothelioma.
Asbestos and talc
In 2017, the first wave of talc cases against Johnson & Johnson and other talcum powder companies, as well as their talc suppliers, started going to trial. Plaintiffs argued that the talc used in products like Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower body powder were tainted with asbestos, which contributed to their mesothelioma diagnoses.
During the first six months of 2018, juries have awarded more than $290 million to asbestos victims, according to Mealey’s Litigation Report.
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