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Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock-460053679.jpgA Missouri state appeals court recently upheld a substantial plaintiff’s verdict in an asbestos cancer lawsuit alleging that the defendant, an industrial parts manufacturer is to blame for the victim’s mesothelioma diagnosis and subsequent death. The defendant sought to overturn a jury’s order to pay the plaintiff’s estate $10 million in punitive damages as punishment for manufacturing engine gaskets containing deadly asbestos fibers.

The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that the plaintiff came in contact with asbestos dust from engine gaskets manufactured by Crane, Co. while working as a machinist aboard a World War II era ship. After the plaintiff lost his life to malignant mesothelioma in May of 2012, the victim’s widow filed suit against Crane to recover for her husband’s suffering and loss of services.

At trial, the jury sided with the plaintiff and awarded her $1.5 million in compensatory damages but went even further to include $10 million in punitive damages to punish the defendant for knowingly manufacturing such dangerous products. The defendant appealed the verdict in January of 2016, arguing that the plaintiff failed to prevent sufficient evidence linking the defendant’s products to the victim’s mesothelioma diagnosis.

iStock-92402940.jpgA New York appeals court recently upheld a significant plaintiff’s verdict in an asbestos cancer case against equipment manufacturer Caterpillar Inc., Pacemaker Steel & Piping Co., Millar Steel & Industrial Supply Co. Inc. over allegations that the defendants’ products caused his mesothelioma. The $4 million verdict was a long time in the making for the plaintiff, who had to wait two extra years to finally receive the compensation and justice he deserved for his injuries caused by the defendant’s dangerously designed products.

The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit claimed that the defendant suffered asbestos exposure while working for Chicago-based Chicago Pneumatic and then the New York State Department of Transportation. The plaintiff’s lawsuit alleged that he inhaled asbestos dust from vehicle brakes and mechanical parts manufactured by Caterpillar as well as bags and boards supplied to his employer by Pacemaker.

In 2015, a New York jury ruled in favor of the plaintiff, holding Pacemaker 30% liable for the victim’s injuries and ordered that particular defendant to pay $3 million for the plaintiff’s future pain and suffering. As is common in mesothelioma cancer lawsuits, the defendant appealed the verdict, challenging the jury’s determination of a causal link between the victim’s injuries and asbestos in the products he used.

Thumbnail image for iStock-460053679.jpgA three-justice panel of the Illinois First District Appellate Court recently reversed a Cook County judge’s decision to boot a lawsuit brought by an Alabama family on behalf of their deceased father claiming the victim developed mesothelioma while working in the state. The ruling is a huge victory not only for this particular plaintiff but other asbestos cancer victims attempting to hold wrongdoers accountable and recover compensation for all damages incurred.

The lower court originally made its ruling in December of 2015 in favor of the defendant, Kansas City-based drywall joint compound manufacturer Welco Manufacturing, holding that the plaintiff had not resided long enough in the state to bring the claim. The plaintiffs asserted their deceased relative worked on over 50 job sites over the course of three to four months in 1965, during which time he was exposed to deadly asbestos fibers in the defendant’s drywall compound products.

The plaintiffs filed their lawsuit in in Cook County Circuit Court in 2014 against several defendants including Welco Manufacturing, taking the claim all the way to trial before a jury. Leading up to trial, the plaintiffs settled their lawsuit with all of the named defendants except Welco. During trial, the judge ruled that the plaintiffs did not demonstrate a clear link between asbestos exposure from the defendant’s product while in Illinois and the victim developing mesothelioma.

Thumbnail image for iStock-526953477.jpgThe scientific world was recently shocked after six members of the Conference of the Parties to the Rotterdam Convention (COP-8) managed to block the addition of chrysotile asbestos from the Convention’s list of hazardous substances. The block came despite a unanimous recommendation from the Convention’s scientific committee to name the substance to the list, which leading scientists in the field called “ridiculous,” according to reports.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), chrysotile asbestos is a known carcinogen linked to serious health conditions including lung, larynx, and ovarian cancers, in particular mesothelioma. While asbestos has been banned in almost all commercial and industrial applications in the United States, many developing nations rely on the relatively cheap and malleable mineral for numerous applications.

Under the rules of the conference, additions to the hazardous substances list can be blocked by only a single voting member. In this case, six of the world’s biggest asbestos exporters, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Zimbabwe, India, and Syria, all voted to block the deadly carcinogens naming to the list. The veto was hailed by the International Chrysotile Association, an advocacy group that actively lobbies to shut down chrysotile asbestos.

iStock-460053679.jpgA St. Louis federal jury recently awarded a Wise County, Virginia woman a $110 million verdict over allegations that talcum powder produced by Johnson & Johnson (J&J) contained enough asbestos to cause the victim’s ovarian cancer. The lawsuit is just the latest substantial award given to talcum powder cancer victims but one of the first to allege the product contained cancer-causing asbestos.

Common on the heels of a defense-verdict just a few weeks ago, J&J was hit with its fourth multi-million dollar plaintiff’s verdict in the past year and a half and faces an estimated 2,400 additional claims over similar allegations of ovarian cancer caused by talcum powder. Sadly, pharmaceutical giant J&J refuses to compensate victims for all the harm incurred by the company’s failure to disclose links to deadly cancers.

Much of the jury’s award came in the form of punitive damages, a type of compensation awarded to plaintiffs as a means to punish especially egregious behavior by defendants and serve as a warning to other wrongdoers. Jurors heard testimony about internal J&J research from decades ago about causal links between extended use of talcum powder products and increased risk in developing ovarian cancer.

iStock-477569695.jpgMissouri could be the next state to adopt so-called asbestos claims transparency laws that could have a tremendous impact on the legal rights of victims struck by a mesothelioma diagnosis due to a manufacturer’s negligence. While supporters of the bill tout the legislation’s cost savings and ability to preserve asbestos bankruptcy trusts for future claims, the reality is that the law would force claimants to disclose sensitive information and make it more difficult to recover much needed compensation.

A set of bills, House Bill 333 and Senate Bill 347, are currently working their way through both houses of the Missouri state legislature but face a deadline at the end of May when legislators recess for the year. However, even if the bill fails to pass this legislative term, many legal experts studying the issue believe the Missouri state legislature would take up the issue early in the next session and eventually adopt the provisions.

Like many other similar pieces of legislation in Ohio, West Virginia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Wisconsin, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, and Utah, the Missouri Asbestos Claims Transparency Law would require cancer victims filing claims with asbestos bankruptcy trusts to disclose whether they have filed claims or lawsuits with other parties. The focus on asbestos bankruptcy trusts comes after defense attorneys in a federal asbestos cancer lawsuit alleged that unscrupulous asbestos plaintiffs lawyers somehow manipulated claims, and thereby the system, to enrich themselves.

powerplant.jpgThe 11th Circuit Court of Appeals recently handed down its ruling in an asbestos cancer lawsuit concerning the degree to which victims may recover for their medical expenses after insurers and healthcare providers reduce costs. The Alabama judge’s ruling in the case sets a significant precedent for future mesothelioma lawsuits filed against government entities like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) in this suit.

The case centered around a Florence, Alabama woman who developed mesothelioma after coming in contact with asbestos fibers brought home on her husband’s clothes from his job at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant operated by the TVA. For nearly two-decades, the husband cleaned up residue left by insulators and asbestos workers at the nuclear power plant, which left his clothes covered in fine layers of dust.

The plaintiff’s husband died in 1997 from a heart attack, just a short time after developing pleural mesothelioma himself. After developing mesothelioma in 2011, the plaintiff filed her own mesothelioma asbestos cancer lawsuit but succumbed to the disease just two years later, after arduous chemotherapy treatments and surgeries.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for iStock-460053679.jpgAsbestos cancer victims recently won a huge victory after a California Appeals Court upheld a significant, $5.8 million verdict on their behalf after the defendants attempted to skirt responsibility by appealing the case. Fortunately, judges for California’s Fifth District Court of Appeal sided with the three-plaintiffs, all surviving family members whose father developed mesothelioma after years of working with Bendix brake pads manufactured with deadly asbestos fibers.

As is common in many asbestos cancer lawsuits, the defendants asserted many creative defenses as to why they should be immune from liability for the harm caused by the asbestos-tainted products they manufactured. The defendants attempted to create and appellate issue by claiming the verdict was “fatally inconsistent,” the trial court “erroneously refused” to give the defense’s proposed jury instruction on causation, and the trial court “erroneously admitted” prejudicial evidence.

Furthermore, the defense claimed the jury’s $3.5 million award for punitive damages should be tossed aside on the basis the plaintiffs failed to prove the defendants acted with the malice and wanton disregard for safety to warrant such an award. Fortunately for the plaintiffs, the Appeals Court balked at the defendant’s claims and upheld the jury’s award, finally giving the victims the compensation they deserved.

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