Shipyards used to be common places to find asbestos in products. Shipbuilders previously manufactured parts using asbestos because it the fiber is heat-resistant and inexpensive. However, in many cases, it wasn't until it was too late that the dangers of asbestos exposure were realized. Employers at these locations are now being sued for the wrongful deaths of many former employees.
After 37 years of working at a Virginia shipyard, one man retired only to discover he had developed mesothelioma from his exposure to asbestos. Tragically, he passed away from the disease two years later. His family then filed a lawsuit against the man's former employer, claiming that the company must have known the dangers of asbestos but failed to warn their employees.
A jury agreed with the family and awarded man's family over $9 million in compensation for their considerable pain in suffering. Portions of the money were split among the man's wife and two sons. Other portions of the money were intended to compensate for pain and suffering experienced by the man prior to his death. While no amount of money can completely heal this family, the judgment means that those who were responsible for his death will be held accountable.
Initially, the family included five other companies in their wrongful death suit. These companies all settled with the family outside of court. Because the shipyard did not agree to this and brought the case to trial, the company must pay the full amount awarded by the jury.
Many people who used to work at shipyards and in similar industries were likely exposed to asbestos. When a company fails to properly protect workers from exposure, an innocent person can develop a devastating disease without warning. In these cases, a legal representative who understands asbestos-related diseases may be able to track the exposure and hold negligent parties accountable.
Source: dailynews.com, "$9 million jury verdict in Newport News asbestos case," Peter Dujardin, Feb. 17, 2012