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Jury divides money in asbestos settlement among split family

A jury has made a final decision in the division of more than $443,000 in settlement benefits from a 1990s asbestos lawsuit. The division of funds was complicated by several family splits, which prompted official review of beneficiaries in this wrongful death case.

The parties involved in the suit included the widow and daughter of a former chemical plant worker who died as a result of injuries suffered after being exposed to asbestos. The class-action case contended that major companies such as DuPont and Mobil Oil knowingly exposed their workers to dangerous asbestos-related environmental hazards without attempting to protect their employees.

Before the settlement was determined, two women, who claimed to be the man's daughters, intervened in the case in an attempt to claim compensation directed toward the family after the man's death.

After paternity was tentatively established in the case, the two younger women asserted that they had a claim to some of the class-action money that had been distributed to the widow. A jury decided in January that the man's widow would receive a 20 percent share of the benefits, and 5 percent of the money would be given to the man's estate. Further, each of the three daughters was awarded 25 percent of the financial compensation. The case may face further appeals, pending the final conclusions of the paternity hearing.

Asbestos-related diseases such as mesothelioma still pose significant health hazards to workers in a variety of industries. Although asbestos may not be as prevalent in modern building materials, older workers may have been exposed. Further, employees continue to face exposure today during remediation projects and facility renovation in older, asbestos-filled facilities. The seriousness of these diseases cannot be ignored, particularly because of their lasting effects upon the financial health of workers' families.

Source: The Southeast Texas Record, "Jury divides up $443K asbestos settlement," David Yates, Jan. 30, 2012

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