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Jury: Brake pad manufacturer to pay $10.9 million

The family of a man who died in 2013 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma was likely quite relieved recently when a jury returned a verdict in the case they had filed against the maker of automotive brake pads and linings. The jury awarded a total of $10.9 million to the family, finding that Bendix, now Honeywell International Inc., should be held accountable for the man's illness and subsequent death.

According to reports, the man spent years building and repairing cars and trucks. Many of the vehicles on which he worked involved automotive products containing asbestos, which was quite common up until about the 1980s. Car, train and ship parts were often made using asbestos because it was a relatively cheap material that has fire-resistant qualities. However, when these products wore down or were damaged, asbestos dust could be released into the air and breathed in by people nearby.

The man's family argued that this is exactly what happened during all the years the man spent working on automobile parts, including the brake pads and linings manufactured by Bendix. The man was diagnosed with mesothelioma, which is caused by asbestos exposure, years after he started using and working on heavy machines and vehicles. A year after he was diagnosed, he passed away.

After hearing the family's case, a jury found that the brake pad and lining manufacturer acted with "reckless indifference" and awarded the man's family $3.5 million in punitive damages alone. They were also awarded $7.3 million in compensatory damages.

When a person gets sick as a result of using or consuming a dangerous product like asbestos, the manufacturer of that product can be held accountable. This can be very important to remember if you or a loved one has been exposed to asbestos or recently diagnosed with mesothelioma or asbestosis. With the help of an attorney, many victims and their families are able to file a successful claim against a manufacturer.

Source: Central Valley Business Times, "Fresno jury awards millions in asbestos death case," June 2, 2014

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