Jury awards $14 million to Celanese employee’s family

In North Carolina and across the country, legislation to limit awards for exposure to asbestos have been garnering most of the headlines, but two recent cases – one discussed in our last post and the case that is the subject of this post – show that juries are still sympathetic to the plight of workers who were exposed to asbestos without either their knowledge or consent.

The plaintiff in this case worked at chemical plant owned and operated by Celanese Corporation from 1971 to 1980, but, unlike many asbestos plaintiffs, he had been employed by a construction company hired by Celanese as a subcontractor. Evidence showed that he was exposed to a number of asbestos-containing products on the job. He received a diagnosis of mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer caused almost exclusively by the inhalation of asbestos fibers, in 2013, shortly before beginning his lawsuit.

At trial, the plaintiff’s attorney argued that, even though the plaintiff was not employed by Celanese, the company had a legal obligation to warn the plaintiff’s employer and the plaintiff about the known hazards of asbestos. The attorney dramatized the amount of information about the harmful effects of asbestos product exposure by stacking on a courtroom table numerous journal and magazine articles discussing the hazards in detail. A Celanese representative expressed “disappointment” with the jury’s verdict but made no statement about whether it would appeal the verdict.

This case demonstrates that asbestos still constitutes a significant health hazard for industrial workers and, more importantly, that workers who have been sickened by asbestos exposure can still recover significant damages. Anyone who suffers from or has lost a loved one to an illness caused by asbestos exposure may wish to consult an attorney who specializes in pursuing such claims. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the facts of the case and an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for wage loss, medical expenses and pain and suffering from the parties that caused the exposure.

Source: Law 360, “SC Jury Slaps Celanese With $14M Asbestos Verdict,” Jody Godoy, Oct. 9, 2015