Asbestos Exposure Mesothelioma Lawsuit $30.3M Verdict Upheld on Appeal
A $30.3 million verdict returned in an asbestos exposure lawsuit was upheld earlier this month by a New Jersey appeals court.
The court affirmed the February 2008 decision in favor of Susan Buttitta, who brought a mesothelioma lawsuit after the death of her husband, Mark, an advertising executive from Glen Ridge who used to work at a GM warehouse in the early 1970s. The original verdict, handed down by a Bergen County jury, may be the largest in the state’s history.
Originally filed against a large number of companies, only Borg-Warner Corp. and Asbestos Corp., Ltd. were left as part of the case by the time a verdict was returned. Other companies either reached a settlement with the plaintiff or were dismissed from the trial. Borg-Warner and Asbestos Corp. appealed the verdict on multiple counts, but the appellate court rejected them all.
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Mark Buttilla allegedly developed mesothelioma from asbestos exposure both as a child, when his father worked at a GM warehouse and carried the fibers home on his clothing, and in the early 1970s, when he also worked at a GM warehouse in Englewood. The lawsuit alleges that Buttilla handled boxes covered with asbestos dust as part of his job. He died of the fatal asbestos cancer in 2002.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the chest and lungs, which is only known to occur as a result of exposure to asbestos. The disease has a very long latency period and is often not discovered until decades after exposure, leading to a limited life expectancy after diagnosis.
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. Despite the ban, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the number of mesothelioma deaths continues to rise each year due to the latency period, with the number expected to peak in 2010.
Asbestos exposure mesothelioma lawsuits are the longest running mass tort in U.S. history, with the first asbestos case filed in 1929. 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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