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Mesothelioma victim recalls asbestos hazards in video testimony

Jurors got a powerful glimpse into the life and work history of a man who suffered from mesothelioma and passed away before a lawsuit against manufacturers of asbestos products went to trial. Through a video recording of the man's testimony before his death, the man was able to share his personal story about his ongoing and tragic exposure to asbestos during his time in the U.S. Navy.

According to the man's testimony, he worked on Navy ships for several years and was frequently in confined spaces working with gaskets and insulation that were made with asbestos. During these jobs, he was reportedly required to comply with strict practices laid out in a manual, which he says had no warnings about the dangers of working with asbestos.

The man and other crew members worked without any type of breathing or respiratory protective gear and were unaware that the fibers they were breathing in on a regular basis could lead to serious health conditions decades after their work on the ships was complete. The man's work on the ships ended in 1969, and he died from mesothelioma in May 2013. 

In the recordings, the man acknowledged that his memory of specifics, including labeling details, had deteriorated. He stated that this was partly because the exposure happened so long ago but was also due to the chemotherapy he was undergoing at the time of his testimony. However, he was still able to provide critical insight into his experience on the ships. He was able to describe how they would use wire brushes to clean off asbestos from pipes and how dusty it was onboard when they were replacing or repairing parts.

The man's sons are now representing him in the trial, but it is likely that the recorded testimony by the man himself had an effect on the members of the jury. When people are able to provide a first-hand account of negligent asbestos exposure, it can be very helpful in helping others understand the devastation of working in such unsafe conditions.

Source: The Madison-St. Clair Record, "Jurors view video deposition of deceased asbestos claimant," Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Feb. 24, 2014

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