Asbestos Damages of $322 Million Overturned by Mississippi Judge

A Mississippi judge has thrown out a record-breaking $322 million award in an asbestos lawsuit brought against Chevron and Union Carbide, due to a possible conflict of interest that was not properly disclosed by a previous judge assigned to the case. 

Last week, Judge William Coleman vacated the damage award, which included $300 million in punitive damages. The verdict had been awarded to Thomas Brown, Jr., who accused the companies of designing defective products that included asbestos and failing to warn workers of the risks.

In October, the Mississippi Supreme Court removed Judge Eddie Bowen from the case, after determining that Judge Bowen had failed to disclose that his father had filed an asbestos lawsuit against Union Carbide and had reached a settlement.

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Bowen’s father and Brown were allegedly exposed to the same Calidria Chrysotile asbestos fibers, which were mined from the same site, and milled and manufactured by the same company using the same milling procedure.

The Asbestos damages awarded in the case had been the largest verdict in asbestos litigation history, which spans more than 80 years.

Asbestos was widely used in a variety of manufacturing and construction applications throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.

Over 600,000 people have filed lawsuits against 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis or other asbestos-related diseases.

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