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Jury awards millions to family of lung cancer victim

In our last post, we discussed the impact that a history of smoking could have on asbestos lawsuits filed by victims of mesothelioma and lung cancer. In that post, which can be read here, we noted that it is still possible to pursue successful claims for compensation from parties who made asbestos or employers who were negligent in protecting employees from exposure to the toxic material, even if a victim also smoked. 

One example of a case involving asbestos exposure and legal challenges based on smoking was recently resolved in favor of a lung cancer victim and his family. The man worked on a cruise ship for 15 years. A year after he left the job, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and died less than five years after that.

The man's history of smoking was a focal point in the case for the defense, which tried to argue that it was the smoking and not the exposure to asbestos that caused his illness.

However, the plaintiffs stated that the man had quit smoking before he even started his job with the cruise line. Witnesses were called that supported the claims that the man's cancer was caused by or exacerbated by asbestos and that the ships the man worked on contained asbestos. In fact, the engine rooms and other spaces on the ships were evidently spots were the man worked and was exposed to the toxic fiber almost every day.

A jury ultimately sided with the plaintiffs and awarded more than $10 million to the victim's family. However, the family will receive about 35 percent of that total after factoring in the negligence the jurors assigned to the victim.

What this case should show us is that smoking can significantly affect the way an asbestos claim is argued in court and the amount that a victim or a victim's family may be awarded. However, it does not make it impossible to pursue a successful claim and receive compensation from parties responsible for negligent asbestos practices. 

Source: Daily Business Review, "Jury Awards $3.6M to Carnival Electrician's Family for Asbestos Exposure," Julie Kay, Jan. 7, 2015

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