The NJ appeals court recently upheld a sanction against Ford in a mesothelioma case involving second-hand asbestos exposure. When Mrs. A.C (a name used for purposes of this article) was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma, her family filed a lawsuit against Ford Motor Company, her husband’s former employer. According to the family, Mrs. A.C developed mesothelioma after inhaling asbestos fibers from her husband’s clothing during the 30 years that he worked as a service manager for the motor dealerships. During the trial, Ford Motor Company withheld evidence in violation of discovery rules, which led to the court imposing a significant sanction. Ford appealed the decision and the sanction, but the NJ state appeals court refused to set the sanctions aside.
For many years, Mrs. A.C’s family had tried to obtain the training manuals for Ford so that they could prove to the court that the company had not warned its workers about the dangers of asbestos in brake dust. Unfortunately, the family was not able to obtain those materials. Instead of producing the information, a corporate representative testified that he could not locate it. He said that none of the manuals were found.
In response, Mrs. A.C’s attorney confronted the representative with a copy of the manual. After the confrontation, the representative confessed that he had seen the manual before and even answered questions about it in previous asbestos cases. After learning that the representative had withheld evidence, the court imposed the sanction that went beyond the jury’s $800,000 verdict.
In its decision regarding the appeal, the New Jersey appeals court called the discovery violation “exceptionally troubling.” In the end, the court entered a final judgment of $1 million, representing the jury award, counsel fees, and interest.
Secondhand Asbestos Exposure
The type of asbestos exposure Mrs. A.C experienced is referred to as secondhand/secondary asbestos exposure. This type of asbestos exposure occurs when someone who works with asbestos or asbestos-contaminated materials brings asbestos fibers home. This can happen when asbestos fibers get stuck in clothing, shoes, or even the person’s hair. When asbestos fibers are brought home, loved ones may experience secondary exposure by inhaling the transferred fibers.
Even though secondary asbestos exposure usually occurs at lower concentrations than primary exposure, it can also lead to the development of mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. In fact, secondary asbestos exposure is the cause of a significant portion of mesothelioma cases among children and women.
Lastly, just as it is with primary exposure, it can take decades for mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease to develop after secondary asbestos exposure occurs. This means that if, for example, a child is indirectly exposed to asbestos at a young age, they may develop mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease in their adult years.
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.