A recent state court appellate decision offers encouragement for persons in North Carolina who have suffered from asbestos product exposure. The court affirmed a $12 million jury verdict in favor of the families of men who died from mesothelioma caused by their exposure to asbestos-containing products.
One of the victims was a carpenter who worked on construction sites in Manhattan from 1973 to 1977. He worked in close proximity to drywall contractors who used joint compound that contained asbestos fibers. When the workers sanded the drywall, the asbestos fibers in the joint compound were released into the air and were inhaled by the victim. The evidence showed that the general contractor was aware of the hazards created by asbestos fibers as early as 1969 but failed to take any steps to guard workers against exposure. This plaintiff died of mesothelioma in 2012.
The other victim was exposed to asbestos while he served in the Navy as a boiler technician. He worked with asbestos-containing gaskets and packing material which were used to seal valves and pipe joints. One of his jobs was to scrape the old gasket cement from the valve joints, which released asbestos fibers into the air that he subsequently inhaled. This victim died of mesothelioma in 2010.
The appellate court rejected numerous arguments by the defendants, ultimately concluding that the plaintiffs had proved that the defendants failed to take reasonable measures to guard workers against asbestos exposure. This case demonstrates that persons who have been exposed to asbestos-containing products can recover significant damages from the manufacturers of those products. Anyone who has worked in proximity to asbestos products should consult an attorney who is experienced in evaluating and pursuing such claims to determine if pursuing a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturers of the products or of the asbestos ingredients used to manufacture the products is in his or her best interest.
Source: Legal Newsline, “N.Y. appellate court affirms $12M jury verdict in consolidated asbestos cases,” Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, July 10, 2014