Welding is a common industrial occupation in North Carolina and across the country. The hazards of working around extreme heat and light are obvious to anyone, but a recent jury verdict in a product liability case has revealed another hazard: the presence of asbestos in the core of the welding sticks that are used to create the welding arc.
The plaintiff in the case worked for Portable Elevator Company when he was 19. He used welding sticks manufactured by Hobart Brothers. Welding sticks are essentially electrodes that produce a high intensity arc of electricity. The sticks contain a core called “flux” that generates a gas that protects the arc from chemicals in the atmosphere. The flux in the sticks manufactured by Hobart Brothers contained asbestos at the time that the plaintiff was using them, almost 50 years ago.
The plaintiff’s attorney argued that Hobart knew that its welding sticks contained asbestos and that it negligently failed to warn the plaintiff of the dangers of inhaling asbestos fibers. The jury agreed, returning a verdict of $4.6 million in the plaintiff’s favor. The plaintiff had been diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma, a disease caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of asbestos fibers.
This case demonstrates once again the widespread potential for exposure to asbestos-containing products in dustrial jobs such as welding, pipe fitting, insulation and general construction. Anyone who has worked in one or more of these jobs may wish to be examined for mesothelioma, lung cancer or asbestosis, the three diseases primarily associated with exposure to asbestos products. If the diagnosis is positive, a consultation with an attorney who specializes in representing victims of asbestos product exposure can provide a helpful analysis of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Source: Pantagraph, “Jury awards $4.6 million in asbestos case,” Edith Brady-Lunny, Oct. 21, 2016