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11th Circuit Weighs Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit

Establishing liability for asbestos-related lung cancer can be challenging for aBoston Mesothelioma Lawyer number of reasons – not the least of which being that lung cancer has numerous known causes. Mesothelioma, on the other hand, is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. Proving lung cancer was caused by negligent asbestos exposure – and not something else – can be a challenge for your personal injury attorneys. You need to be sure they are up to it.

A recent court opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit involved a man who worked at a major regional power and energy company for more than two decades and was later diagnosed with asbestos-related lung cancer. He died in 1997. Four years later, his wife was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Her ensuing injury lawsuit alleged she was exposed to “take-home” asbestos, via her husband’s work clothing.

Many people think of lung cancer solely as a smoker’s disease. That’s not always the case, and asbestos has been definitively shown to cause lung cancer. Still, smokers could be at higher risk of developing asbestos-related diseases, including lung cancer and mesothelioma. They are no less entitled to damages, but proving causation with thorough evidence and expert witness testimony is key. 

As our Boston mesothelioma attorneys can explain, these are primarily product liability cases, filed against the designers, manufacturers and distributors of asbestos-laden products. This case, however, involved the alleged failure of husband’s employer to prevent exposure of take-home asbestos to employee family members.

This was a common scenario for workers who toiled around asbestos: They would come home at the end of a long day still covered in asbestos dust. They would greet family members with a dust-covered hug, and then track deadly asbestos fibers all over the house. Family members who laundered the worker’s clothing were especially at risk.

Widow filed her claim shortly before her own death in 2011.

Trial court verdict returned in favor of plaintiff. However, 11th Circuit remanded for further proceedings to recalculate the damages award consistent with state law.

In cases like this where plaintiff passes away while proceedings are pending, it is the administrator of decedent’s estate that assumes the role of plaintiff. Typically, this is one’s surviving spouse or next-of-kin, though courts may appoint one.

As far as the claim of asbestos lung cancer, the National Cancer Institute has confirmed asbestos is a cause of lung cancer, accounting for an estimated 4,800 deaths annually and representing about 4 percent of all U.S. lung cancer deaths.

Similar to mesothelioma, asbestos-related lung cancer is typically diagnosed in the later stages of development. Both conditions have long latency periods, which is why plaintiffs with both conditions need to act swiftly in seeking legal consultation.

Plaintiffs may be owed compensation for the enormous medical expenses, as well as lost wages and pain and suffering. Where the condition proves fatal (as it often does with asbestos lung cancer and always does with mesothelioma), administrators of plaintiff’s estate may assert damages for wrongful death.

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at 1-888-367-2900.

Additional Resources:

B v. T, April 27, 2017, US. Court of Appeal for the Eleventh Circuit

More Blog Entries:
Treating Mesothelioma and Other Asbestos-Related Cancers, Feb. 14, 2017, Boston Asbestos Exposure Attorney Blog