A California jury recently handed down a substantial verdict in an asbestos cancer case involving a plaintiff who developed mesothelioma as a result of secondhand exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on his father's work clothes. The jury's $11.4 million award included $5 million to the plaintiff and his wife for what the panel deemed to be malice on the part of the defendant, Liberty Utilities, now known as Park Water.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that commonly affects thin lining of tissue surrounding vital organs like the lungs, heart, and abdomen. The disease is directly linked to exposure to asbestos, a naturally occuring mineral once commonly used in a variety of industrial, commercial, and military applications due to its malleability and heat-resistant properties. Mesothelioma usually takes 20 to 50 years to develop, which can leave patients with limited treatment options by the time a diagnosis is made.
According to the asbestos cancer lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, the plaintiff developed his cancer as a result of being exposed to asbestos fibers his father unknowingly brought home from his job at Liberty Utilities (Park Water). The plaintiff's father worked at Liberty Utilities (Park Water) from 1970 to 1985, where he cut, installed, and repaired asbestos-cement water pipes but was unaware of asbestos exposure and its dangers.
The plaintiffs alleged that the victim's mesothelioma diagnosis could have been prevented had Liberty Utilities (Park Water) taken basic safety precautions, such as providing separate lockers for work and street clothing and warning employees about the risks of doing their jobs. However, the defendants did not give the plaintiff's father any such warnings in the 15 years he worked for the utility company, according to the lawsuit.
The jury's award included $856,500 in lost wages and $2,550,000 for loss of enjoyment of life, mental anguish, and pain and suffering to the plaintiff for his injuries. The jury also awarded the plaintiff's wife $3,000,000 for loss of consortium which includes the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship due to injuries caused by the defendant's negligence.
Of great significance was the jury's $5,000,000 punitive damages award for the malice it determined that the defendant acted with for its failure to warn employees about the risks of asbestos exposure. While not a common occurrence in civil cases, punitive damages are handed down by juries as a means to punish defendants for especially egregious conduct and serve as a deterrent for others to act in a similarly negligent manner.
Arizona Mesothelioma Lawyer
If you or a loved one was diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced Arizona mesothelioma attorneys about your situation. Our office can help investigate your case and determine if compensation can be sought from negligent parties to help pay for your medical treatment to help you and your family live a more comfortable life.