For purposes of this article, the victims in this case will be referred to as T.W. and J.W.
Vermiculite, a naturally occurring mineral with heat-resistant properties, and asbestos, also a naturally occurring mineral, form under the same conditions. Asbestos is a dangerous substance that can cause several fatal illnesses, including mesothelioma. In Libby, Montana, asbestos contaminated the city’s vermiculite deposit, so years of mining this mineral in the city exposed workers and residents to asbestos. Thousands of people got sick because of asbestos exposure, and over the years, victims and families of victims have filed countless legal claims. In April 2024, two Libby residents’ stories will be told by their surviving loved ones who filed a lawsuit against the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway.
T.W. ‘s family and J.W. ‘s family filed a mesothelioma wrongful death claim against the railway company and other defendants after their loved ones died of malignant mesothelioma. According to the two families, the companies named in the lawsuit are strictly liable for their loved one’s death. T.W.’s family and J.W.’s family are seeking to recover compensatory and punitive damages for the wrongful deaths of their loved ones.
The lawsuit claims that the two victims suffered asbestos exposure when crushed vermiculite ore was loaded on trains at the mine, and then the trains traveled to the company’s railyard in the town center of Libby. T.W.’s family and J.W.’s family both accuse Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company of exposing their loved ones to extremely high levels of asbestos. T.W. lived near the railyard and spent one summer in a trailer home adjoining the railyard. On the other hand, J.W. would walk every day from her residence to the ball fields. The two families remember asbestos-contaminated dust drifting through Libby and getting blown during high winds.
Since the lawsuit was filed, both the claimant and the railway company have filed motions with the court. The victims’ families requested the court to strike witness testimony, and the defendant asked the court to dismiss the claims. Both requests were denied. The case will be heard on April 8, next year.
Punitive Damages in Mesothelioma Claims
As mentioned, the two families in the above case are seeking punitive damages. What exactly are punitive damages in mesothelioma lawsuits? These are damages that are awarded to punish defendants. However, these damages are not awarded in all mesothelioma cases. These damages can only be granted if the court determines that the defendant acted particularly egregiously or with intent to harm. Punitive damages differ from compensatory damages, which are awarded to victims or their families to cover specific losses, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral expenses.
Nationwide Mesothelioma Lawyers
If you or a loved one were diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our office to speak to one of our experienced nationwide 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.n