In a recently decided Ohio mesothelioma lawsuit, a jury awarded the estate of an 83-year-old Korean War Veteran $12.1 million in compensatory and punitive damages. The jury awarded the veteran’s estate this amount after hearing and deliberating on the details of the veteran’s decades-long asbestos exposure and his ensuing diagnosis and death from malignant mesothelioma. At first, the jury had awarded the plaintiff compensatory damages amounting to $6.1 million. The judge then decided to add another $6 million in punitive damages against John Crane, Inc.
The war veteran worked in the stockroom at the Pfaudler Co. plant in Elyria, Ohio, for more than four decades. He started working at the Pfaudler Co. plant after his service in Korea. While working at Pfaudler, the veteran was responsible for preparing shipments of specialized glass-coated steel bowls used in chemical and pharmaceuticals manufacturing. Every week, he would spend hours cutting asbestos-contaminated rope using a band saw. Because the material was asbestos-contaminated, cutting it with a band saw led to the spread of asbestos particles into the air, which he then inhaled.
According to reports, the veteran was a hard-working man who always did what he was told to do at work. Unfortunately, neither he nor his fellow employees were ever informed of the hazards of the product they were handling because Pfaudler was in the dark. Pfaudler was never warned about the asbestos-contaminated rope, and the evidence presented at trial proved this fact. Crane Packing Co., now formally known as John Crane Inc., the material’s manufacturer, knew that the material had a high concentration of blue crocidolite asbestos, but never warned Pfaudler of the material’s potential danger or advised the plant on proper handling. The material’s manufacturer always advertised the material as ‘completely non-toxic.’ However, once Pfaudler realized that the material was toxic – an entire three years before John Crane issued any form of public warning – the company stopped using it. Unfortunately, by then, it was late for the war veteran, as he had already been exposed to asbestos for many years.
According to sources, the war veteran was diagnosed in 2016 and passed away in the same year at the age of 83 due to mesothelioma effects. The veteran left no spouse or children, and his only surviving relative is his 86-year-old brother.
The judge ordered John Crane, Inc. to pay the 83-year-old estate $6 million in punitive damages, as punishment for the company’s callous disregard for the health of those using their products. According to the veteran’s representative, the judge’s decision to award an additional $6 million in punitive damages to the veteran’s estate shows that people are unwilling to tolerate “a pattern and practice of treating human life as disposable.”
Courts usually award punitive damages on top of other compensatory damages. Therefore, the award of such damages usually increases a plaintiff’s award.
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