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$7 million verdict awarded in asbestos death case

North Carolina residents who worked in close proximity to asbestos-containing products, such as pipe fitters, plumbers and boiler installers, are generally thought to be the typical asbestos victim. Another class of victims is now emerging - wives who contracted an asbestos-related disease after years of washing their husband's asbestos-contaminated clothing.

A state court trial judge in Baton Rouge recently awarded $7 million in damages to the children of a woman who was exposed to asbestos fibers during the many years she spent laundering her husband's work clothing. The woman's husband was employed at Placid Oil Company, where his job duties included replacing worn gaskets and removing insulation. In performing these duties, he was regularly required to climb over equipment that was covered with asbestos dust. When his wife washed his work clothes, she inhaled asbestos fibers that had been carried home. She died from mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer with one known cause: the inhalation of asbestos fibers.

The wrongful death lawsuit was started by the children of the deceased wife. The principal defendant was Ingersoll-Rand, the manufacturer of the compressors on which the husband had worked. Evidence at trial proved that Ingersoll-Rand knew about the hazards of asbestos in the 1950s, but that it took no steps to either ameliorate the hazard or provide adequate warning of the hazard.

"Take home" asbestos suits may become more common as knowledge about this type of asbestos hazard becomes widespread. Anyone who feels they or a loved one may have been exposed to asbestos fibers that were brought home from the workplace on clothing or otherwise may wish to assess the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, loss of companionship, lost income and pain and suffering.

Source: Courthouse News Service, "Take Home' Asbestos Death Nets $7M Verdict," Sabrina Canfield, May 13, 2016

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