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Ex-Navy employee awarded $17 million in asbestos death case

In a case that will have echoes in the shipyards in North Carolina and elsewhere on the east coast, a jury in Arizona awarded $17 million to the family of a former civilian employee of the United States Navy who alleged that he suffered fatal asbestos exposure while he worked in the Norfolk Naval Yard in Virginia.

The decedent worked as a machinist in the shipyard from 1959 to 1966. His primary job was repairing and maintaining equipment on naval ships. His duties regularly included the removal of gaskets that were manufactured using asbestos fibers and repacking valve gaskets that contained asbestos fibers. The decedent and his wife had moved to Lake Havasu City after he retired from a 37-year career working for the Navy. The decedent died less than one year after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, an especially virulent form of lung cancer that is almost exclusively caused by inhalation of asbestos fibers.

The plaintiffs' claim was based on the decedent's repeated to exposure to asbestos fibers in valves manufactured by Crane Company and by William Powell Co. Crane wassessed 20% of the liability, Powell wassessed with 5% of the liability, and the balance of 75% wassigned to the Navy and other companies that produced asbestos-containing products commonly used in the Navy's ships.

Anyone who believes that he or she or a loved one has been exposed to airborne asbestos fibers should obtain an examination by a physician qualified to diagnose and treat mesothelioma and the other lung diseases caused by asbestos. If the examination is negative for an asbestos-related disease, the doctor can continue to monitor the person. If the examination is positive for mesothelioma or asbestosis, a consultation with a lawyer who specializes in handling such claims can provide a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Insurance Journal, "$17M Award in Asbestos Death of Navy Civilian Employee in Arizona," April 22, 2016

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