An Illinois jury verdict awarding $90 million in an asbestos case was in part overturned by a court ruling. The asbestos exposure purportedly led to a worker contracting mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer that is related to asbestos exposure.
In this asbestos-related injury case, the award has been reduced to $8.4 million. A $40 million punitive award by the jury was negated as it was alleged the party in question did not misrepresent or hide the health risks due to asbestos exposure. It appears that other portions of the award were also thrown out or greatly reduced including $9.6 million in compensatory damages.
The plaintiff in this case was a pipefitter. Reportedly, this pipefitter was exposed to asbestos at various worksites, and such exposure eventually led to mesothelioma.
The only known cause of mesothelioma is through asbestos exposure. Usually the exposure occurs when asbestos particles are inhaled, and such particles then become embedded in the lining of the lungs.
The difficulty for attorneys trying asbestos injury cases is that mesothelioma does not always manifest itself until 30 or 40 years after the exposure has taken place. Though the dangers of asbestos have long been known, companies often excuse themselves by claiming that they didn't know of the dangers at the time that the exposure took place, and therefore they had no duty to warn workers of these dangers. Hopefully very soon, companies will no longer be able to shirk their responsibility in this manner.
It appears by this and other rulings that judges may be taking the responsibility to render a verdict out of the hands of juries. Though a portion of the award did remain, a verdict of $8.4 million may not be significant enough to cover all of the wage loss, medical expenses, and expenses for other services that the worker may have suffered due to the cancer from which he now suffers.
The pipefitter's attorneys do hope to appeal this matter.
- Mesothelioma.com, "Landmark Asbestos Settlement Against Owens-Illinois Overturned by Judge," by Kristen Griffin, September 7, 2012
- The Sacramento Bee, "Judge vacates part of $90M asbestos judgment," September 6, 2012