A jury in Portland, Oregon recently handed down a significant verdict in an asbestos cancer lawsuit brought by a man with lung cancer and his wife who claim that gasket maker John Crane Inc. knew its products contained deadly asbestos fibers but did nothing to prevent exposure to the substance. The jury awarded the plaintiffs approximately $5.4 million as compensation for medical bills, loss of consortium, lost income, and punitive damages to punish John Crane Inc. and deter other powerful companies from putting the public at risk.
The 75-year-old plaintiff and his wife claimed he suffered from asbestos exposure while serving in the U.S. Navy from 1960 to 1964 and that John Crane Inc. was the company responsible for manufacturing the insulation used onboard the vessel. Asbestos was once widely used in such military applications, particularly in ship building, due to its heat resistant and malleable properties.
Furthermore, the plaintiff claims he again suffered asbestos exposure while working as a pipefitter from 1965 to 1987 in Oregon and Massachusetts with many asbestos-contaminated products. The victim argued John Crane Inc. manufactured the pipe gaskets and packing material he came in contact with on a daily basis and did so using asbestos despite knowing full well about the risks of developing cancer from asbestos.
Doctors diagnosed the plaintiff with mesothelioma in 2015 and have only given him a few more months to live before the cancer will take his life. Mesothelioma is an especially rare form of lung cancer linked directly to exposure to asbestos. The disease typically affects thin linings of tissue surrounding the lungs and abdomen before it spreads throughout the body. Mesothelioma takes decades to develop in cancer victims, making it difficult to diagnose before limited treatment options are available.
The jury sided with the plaintiffs, awarding the couple $813,000 in economic damages and $1.63 million in noneconomic damages for pain and suffering to compensate them for the harm suffered as a direct result of the defendant’s dangerous products. However, the jury also determined the U.S. Navy was partly at fault for the plaintiff’s medical condition and the award will be adjusted to reflect the degree to which the Navy was responsible.
The jury also slapped John Crane Inc. with $3 million in punitive damages as punishment for intentionally manufacturing such deadly and dangerous products. Punitive damages are rarely awarded in civil suits as most jurisdictions have high standards for when this type of compensation may be awarded. Under Oregon law, both the plaintiffs and the state will share in the punitive damages award.
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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.