According to a recent news feature from Oregon Live, a local jury has just awarded $8.75 million to a man who is currently dying from malignant mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure that occurred around 40 years ago.
The victim is a 65-year-old man who first became exposed to the deadly asbestos fibers when he worked on construction sites when he was in his 20s. He was a carpenter and was regularly exposed to a product manufactured by the defendant. The product was applied to drywall by other workers and was used as a joint compound.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring silica-based compound that has a natural resistance to heat, fire, caustic chemicals, and electricity. It was used for these reasons for thousands of years, but it was not until the industrial revolution that it became used in virtually every aspect of construction. It was not only these properties, but also the fact that it is an excellent binding agent, that made it so useful. It was also cheap to mine and process.
However, the problem is that once it is in inhaled, the deadly fibers can become trapped in a protective layer of tissue known as the mesothelium, where they can metastasize into the deadly form of cancer called malignant mesothelioma. The reason companies who knew about the dangers continued to use the product was because they also knew it would take between 20 and 50 years on average for people to become sick. In this case it took 40 years.
The jury found that the company was aware of the dangers in 1965 and still allowed plaintiff to become exposed to the deadly fibers in the 1970s with full knowledge of the dangers. As our Boston asbestos injury attorneys can explain, there are a variety of reasons some juries are willing to award such high verdicts in mesothelioma cases. One of the first reasons is that the companies were aware of these dangers and chose to disregard to the safety of millions of workers and their families so they could make short-term profits. They were not worried about the future, because these workers would not get sick for decades.
In our legal system, the standard measure of damages in a personal injury case is what is known as compensatory damages. Compensatory damages are designed to compensate the victim for the actual loss suffered. This can include medical bills, funeral expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, and special damages. While this is not appropriate in every case, there is the possibility of punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed to punish the defendant, as the name implies, and send a message to others that this type of behavior will not be tolerated. However, it should be noted that punitive damages are only available with certain types of facts, and since every case is different, as the facts are never the same, you should speak with an experienced mesothelioma attorney about your specific situation. One thing that may assist you is that many of these same defendants have already been sued in connection with asbestos exposure, so they may be more willing to offer a reasonable settlement.
If you or a loved one is diagnosed with mesothelioma in Boston, call for a free and confidential appointment at (617) 777-7777.
Portland jury awards $8.75M to Beaverton man who is dying of asbestos-related cancer, June 3, 2016, Oregon Live, By Aimee Green
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