In a recent landmark decision, a Mississippi jury awarded the highest-ever settlement in the history of asbestos related injury cases and mesothelioma settlements. Thomas Brown, Jr., a 48-year-old oil field worker, was awarded $322 million for suffering, expenses and punitive damages. The defendants in the case, Chevron Phillips Chemical and Union Carbide Corporation, allegedly continued putting workers at risk even after the dangers of asbestos exposure were well known.
Brown, working in the oil fields for several years in the 1970’s and 80’s, claims he inhaled asbestos dust on a regular basis when mixing drilling mud that was sold by Chevron Phillips Chemical and manufactured by Union Carbide. He has since developed a serious condition known as asbestosis, a disease that causes lung scarring and may become worse with time. Brown requires oxygen 24 hours a day, limiting his mobility and ability to work. Apparently at issue was Brown’s inability to read the warning labels and signs posted by the company. The companies’ spokespeople vehemently denied the claims and stated that there were plans for an appeal.
Regardless of the eventual outcome of this particular case, the large settlement may send a strong message to companies who are not keenly focused on the health and safety of workers. Prior to this case, the largest settlement, in an amount over $200 million, resulted from a class-action suit that took place in Illinois. The next highest settlement occurred in March of this year, when $90 million was awarded to Charles Gillenwater. Since the first asbestos-related injury case in 1929, hundreds of thousands of people have filed lawsuits against thousands of defendants. But this is the largest known settlement to date. For more information about victim’s rights, visit our page on mesothelioma victim’s rights.
According to the EPA, exposure to asbestos can be a cause of mesothelioma or lead to other cancers or asbestosis, as in Brown’s case. Exposure to asbestos can be particularly dangerous because of the long latency period of the diseases associated with asbestos exposure. A worker may expose themselves repeatedly for years before any symptoms arise. Once symptoms do arise, for many people the diagnosis is unfortunately terminal. Our mesothelioma articles provide useful information to anyone interested in finding out more about mesothelioma and asbestos-related diseases.
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