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Family of school bus driver wins large asbestos verdict

The yellow school bus is a familiar sight on roads all over the United States, including North Carolina. Very few people would suspect that such a common-place vehicle could include materials that might kill its driver. A state court jury has now dramatically altered that assumption by awarding almost $8 million to the family of a deceased school bus driver.

For almost four decades, the decedent drove buses for a school district in New York. During this time, he was exposed to asbestos fibers released by the buses' brakes, gaskets, and clutch pads. Much of the asbestos product exposure occurred in the school district's garage, where buses were serviced and repaired. In September 2011, the driver was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer that is caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of airborne asbestos fibers. He died one year later.

The defendant in this case was Navistar, formerly known as International Harvester Corporation. The plaintiff alleged that the manufacturer used asbestos-containing products in its buses despite knowing that asbestos was hazardous. The jury agreed and awarded the decedent's estate $3 million for his pain and suffering, $3 million for emotional injury and $1.5 million to his wife for lost of companionship. The defendant has sixty days in which to appeal the verdict.

This case again demonstrates that asbestos has posed and still poses a significant health hazard. Any person who has worked in the presence of asbestos-containing materials - such as boiler installations and automobile repair shops - is at risk for contracting mesothelioma. A person who is symptomatic - persistent coughing and chest pain - should seek a medical evaluation. If the diagnosis is mesothelioma or asbestosis, consultation with an attorney experienced in pursuing such claims may be helpful in securing compensation from the parties whose products led to the asbestos exposure.

Source: Syracuse Post-Standard, "Family of deceased F-M bus driver wins $7.7 million in largest local asbestos verdict ever," Douglass Dowty, Dec. 23, 2014

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