A recent article from Business Insurance involves a mesothelioma lawsuit in which the jury awarded the family of deceased worker (consisting of the children and surviving spouse) $17 million.
The plaintiff filed the lawsuit in 2012, and claimed that he was exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers while working at a shipyard in Norfolk, Virginia in the late 1950s to the mid to late 1960s. He had been working as a machinist at the shipyard for years. A year after filing his lawsuit, he died from malignant mesothelioma. At this point, his family opened an estate in the name of the decedent’s estate and converted the action to a wrongful death case.
As is typical in any malignant mesothelioma claim, there were multiple defendants. In this case, there were more than 20 defendants. The reason for such a high number in these types of cases, including Boston mesothelioma lawsuits, is because there are typically multiple responsible parties. There are multiple who manufactured the asbestos, and multiple parties that used the deadly asbestos laden products.
This can complicate the matter and it is something you should discuss with your attorney at your initial consultation so you can make sure to include all of the necessary parties in your civil action. It should also be noted that it will be required for a jury to make a determination as to what percentage each of these defendants should pay in addition to the total amount of damages. In this case, they found the United States Navy to 47 percent responsible for the plaintiff being exposed to the deadly fibers as he worked on the shipyard as a machinist.
As for the verdict, the court awarded $6 million to his surviving spouse and an additional $1 million to each of his three children that survived him. This made up $10 million in compensatory damages which is the normal measure of damages in any personal injury case including malignant mesothelioma wrongful death actions.
The jury also awarded an additional $8 million in punitive damages. While punitive damages are not available in most cases, they may become available when there is a showing that a defendant acted with a complete and willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others, and that disregard resulted in serious personal injury or death. In malignant mesothelioma cases, many of these defendants were well aware of the dangers asbestos posed to the general public, and especially the workers who were in direct contact with the substance. However, as we now know, they took active steps to hide that information and even went so far as tell people that the deadly fibers were in fact safe. The reason they did was this was because they were far more interested in making money than they were about the health and safety of these workers and their families. The reason they were able to get away with for as long as they did is because it takes between 20 and 50 years for most people to know they are sick.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Mesothelioma victim’s family wins asbestos award, April 25, 2016, Business Insurance
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Holyoke Energy Company Gets Tax Incentive for Expansion and Asbestos Abatement, April 2, 2016, Boston Asbestos Lawyer Blog