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Asbestos Awards Increasing, Asbestosis Award Highest

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Jackson, MSWhile some recent reports indicate that the number of asbestos claims are decreasing, plaintiff awards appear to be increasing. In May 2001, $322 million was awarded to a Mississippi man, making it the largest asbestos lawsuit in history. Not even close but still a substantial settlement, $10 million was awarded last month to a Missouri woman and on December 11, 2011, a former plastics compounder was awarded $2 million.

Interestingly, the asbestosis award was the biggest ever, and not the mesothelioma awards. Historically, some asbestosis victims thought (and some were told) that they had to be diagnosed with mesothelioma to file an asbestos lawsuit.

These disparate settlement amounts beg the question: why was the Mississippi man, who was diagnosed with asbestosis, awarded so much money while another man, who was diagnosed with mesothelioma, was awarded $320 million less?

First the Mississippi man: Thomas Brown Jr., age 48, worked in Mississippi oil fields from 1979 to the mid 1980s. Because he couldn't read or write, he started out as a roughneck mixing asbestos drilling mud on drilling rigs in Mississippi and on offshore rigs in the Gulf of Mexico. Brown, who is on oxygen support 24/7, was diagnosed with asbestosis, not mesothelioma. Brown inhaled asbestos dust while mixing drilling mud sold by CP Chem and manufactured by Union Carbide. In his lawsuit, Brown's attorney Allen Hossley claimed that CP Chem and Union Carbide continued to market asbestos products even though they knew asbestos was known to cause cancer and lung disease. The suit also claimed that industrial companies such as CP Chem and Union Carbide "put innocent workers at an extreme health risk just to insure greater profits." And the jury agreed. Obviously the defendants did not.

According to the newspaper Laurel Leader-Call, Union Carbide called the verdict "outrageous and completely unsupported by the facts or applicable law." Furthermore, the defendants argued that Brown didn't deserve protection under Mississippi's statue requiring defendants to warn the oil-field workers about the known dangers of their asbestos drilling products—because he couldn't read! That comment likely won't win points with any judge or jury.

The $10 million settlement was awarded to the family of Nancy Lopez, a Jackson County Courthouse employee. The lawsuit claimed that US Engineering Co. did not follow correct procedures while working with asbestos at the Kansas City courthouse, where Lopez was employed for 27 years. She died in October 2010 from mesothelioma. (Currently a class-action suit is seeking expenses to monitor several courthouse employees who are susceptible to mesothelioma.)

And the $2 million settlement was awarded by a New York state jury to a man diagnosed with mesothelioma. In 1996 he poured raw asbestos fibers into molds in a plastics factory. The defendant, Hedman Resources Ltd., a Canadian asbestos mining company, was the asbestos supplier.

According to a report published by NERA Economic Consulting, average asbestos-related filings peaked in 2003, and dropped steadily since then. By 2007, average claim filings bottomed out at 20 percent of 2001 levels, and have remained close to that level since then.

(And LawyersandSettlements will talk with an asbestos attorney to answer that question—stay tuned…)

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READER COMMENTS

Posted by

on
I have been trying to get a ball park figure as to the amount of money a person can get for asbestosis

Posted by

on
I have filed a 10 Million Dollar lawsuit against the State of Montana for their failure to warn, inform and protect the Citizens from something that is known to kill you.Selling Libby Mt as safe in criminal. I am being told I have no asbestosis and my lawsuits are being thrown out.ALL of these Drs. making these statements causing lawsuits to be thrown out are NOT Certified B Readers to diagnose anyone.The ONLY one who can diagnose anyone with asbestosis and Silicosis disease is a Certified B Reader. Maybe this is why over 90% of Libby Mt are told they have Plural and not asbestosis. Fact is, NO ONE dies from Plural and plural is considered a normal exposure and no money in it and yet, the State of Montana wants to give the people of Libby who ARE sick and dying...60 thousand for wrongful death and Mesothelioma. ARD gets 20 thousand and THIS is before expenses.The People of Libby will not see a dime while the lawyers pocket over 17 Million out of a 43 million settlement between over 1200 victims.So so criminal and wrong.God Bless Jane and take care.

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