A unanimous decision from a Los Angeles County Superior Court jury led to a massive win of $107 million for the family of a mesothelioma victim.
According to the website BusinessWire, the victim, Joel H. of Long Beach, California, died from pleural mesothelioma in 2014. He worked as a janitor at an apartment complex in Irvine, California. During apartment renovations and maintenance, Joel was tasked with cleaning up the dust and debris left behind by the repair work.
Unfortunately, the apartment complex was built with a drywall joint compound containing asbestos mined and sold by Union Carbide Corp, one of the three defendant companies.
When Joel was called to clean up the mess after routine repairs and renovations, he had no idea the white dust he so often swept up was incredibly dangerous and would ultimately cause his death. However, Union Carbide allegedly knew that anyone working with its products would be at risk.
Details of the Verdict
The L.A. jury found Union Carbide Corp. to have acted with malice as they knowingly sold asbestos and downplayed the health risks. The other two companies, E.F. Brady Company, Inc. and Elementis Chemical, were found to be negligent as they used Union Carbide’s products to build the apartment complex without informing their employees and customers of the health risks.
According to the formal complaint filed with the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles, “Union Carbide, a miner and miller of raw asbestos fiber, was the exclusive supplier of the asbestos fiber in the [drywall] joint compound that defendant E.F. Brady Company, Inc. applied to every wall at [the apartment complex].”
The mesothelioma verdict includes $32 million in compensatory damages, which compensate the victim for harm, injury and other losses caused by the defendants. The jury also awarded the family $75 million in punitive damages, which are assessed to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar behavior.
Asbestos Exposure and Mesothelioma
Any type of asbestos exposure can lead to mesothelioma, a very rare cancer.
Asbestos was often incorporated into various construction materials, such as insulation, drywall joint compounds, ceiling and floor tiles, roof shingles and more. It was once known as a “magic mineral” for its inexpensive price tag, durability and resistance to heat. However, if asbestos-containing materials are disturbed, the asbestos fibers can become loose and break apart from the source.
For instance, during the apartment renovations at Joel’s complex, workers were knocking down walls built with an asbestos-containing drywall joint compound. When they knocked down these walls, they disturbed the asbestos fibers, creating clouds of asbestos dust that would settle on the apartment floor and other surfaces.
When Joel came to clean up the mess left behind, he was unknowingly sweeping up, breathing in, and swallowing asbestos fibers. If asbestos fibers enter the body, they can travel to the thin lining of the lungs or abdomen. Due to the needle-like asbestos fibers, they can become lodged in these thin linings, causing irritation, cell mutation and tumor formation.
If you were exposed to asbestos and have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, contact our patient advocates. They can connect you with top cancer cancers and mesothelioma specialists to get the best treatment possible. MesotheliomaGuide can also provide legal resources to help you hold the companies responsible for your asbestos exposure accountable – just like Joel’s family.
Sources & Author
California Jury Awards $107 Million in Mesothelioma Case Against Union Carbide. BusinessWire. Retrieved from: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20230713876659/en/California-Jury-Awards-107-Million-in-Mesothelioma-Case-Against-Union-Carbide. Accessed: 07/13/2023.
LASC Case No.: BC475956 (Consolidated with BC558820). Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Los Angeles. Retrieved from: https://asbestoscasetracker.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Complaint.pdf. Accessed: 07/13/2023.
Sources & Author