Court hears appeal involving cumulative asbestos exposure

In recent posts, this blog has called attention to the continuing vitality of litigation seeking damages for exposure to airborne asbestos fibers in North Carolina and elsewhere. This same theme was repeated by attorneys on both sides of a case recently heard by the supreme court of a nearby state.

The plaintiff was an independent contractor who performed sheet metal work at various textile plants in the other state. He died in 2009 from mesothelioma, a type of lung cancer that is caused almost solely by exposure to fibers released by asbestos-containing products. His lawyers argued at trial, and produced expert testimony to support the claim, that the plaintiff was afflicted not by a single source of asbestos but by cumulative exposure to asbestos from many sources. The jury awarded his heirs $4-million in damages.

Several defendants chose to settle, but the owner of a textile plant where the plaintiff had worked chose to fight. Its attorney told the court that asbestos claims have “morphed” into a new form as lawyers seek additional sources of compensation for their clients. A Georgia appellate court affirmed the jury’s award, and the supreme court is expected to hand down a decision in three or four months.

This cases shows how asbestos exposure may be result of proximity to a number of asbestos products. The plaintiff in this case also sued and settled with manufacturers of asbestos products that he used to re-model his house. Anyone who fears they may have been exposed to asbestos fibers may wish to seek a competent medical examination. If a diagnosis for mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease is the result, a consultation with an attorney who specializes in pursuing asbestos-related claims can provide a helpful evaluation of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for medical expenses, lost wages, lost companionship and pain and suffering.

Source: Augusta Chronicle, “Ga. high court hears asbestos appeal,” Walter C. Jones, Jan. 4, 2016