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Asbestos-exposure victim and wife awarded $38 million

A 74-year-old man worked for years in factories and on farms using gaskets, pumps and valves manufactured by three different companies. He had no reason to suspect that these products were dangerous, but they were ultimately what led to him developing mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer. The products the man was using were made with asbestos.

Rather than warning consumers that their products contained asbestos, the three companies knowingly put their dangerous products on the market, and a jury recently held them accountable for this negligence. The jury awarded the man and his wife a total of $38 million in damages, to be paid by the makers of the asbestos-containing products

The damages in this case are significant. Not only did a jury award the man's wife $1 million for loss of consortium she has suffered as a result of her husband's illness, but they also awarded the couple $10 million to compensate them for every year of life the man will likely miss because of his serious illness. At the time of the trial, the man was not expected to live more than a year.

Feeling that the award to the family was still inadequate, the jury also awarded the couple $27 million in punitive damages, which are intended to further punish a party for negligence and deter others from engaging in the same actions. The companies cited in the lawsuit will be expected to pay these damages.

We know that there is it not possible to put a price on the life of a loved one and that no amount of money can replace that person when they are gone. However, when a loved one dies as a result of another party's negligence, receiving financial support can serve two purposes: to acknowledge the loss of life and to penalize a party for contributing to that loss. 

Source: The State, "Richland County jury awards $38 million in asbestos case," John Monk, Sept. 12, 2013

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