California Mesothelioma Lawsuit Verdict Upheld on Appeal

A California appeals court has upheld the verdict in a mesothelioma lawsuit against Georgia Pacific, which resulted in a $6.2 million judgment for a woman who contracted asbestos-related cancer from her home remodeling business.

The decision affirms a verdict returned in March 2008 by a Superior Court jury in San Francisco in favor of Joan and Daniel Mahoney. The California asbestos lawsuit resulted in a finding that Georgia Pacific Corp. was 30% responsible for John Mahoney’s development of mesothelioma, and the company was ordered to pay $6,289,544 of a $20 million verdict after adjusting for Georgia Pacific’s percentage of fault, settlements made by other defendants prior to trial and a stipulated amount of medical damages.

Mahoney alleged that she contracted mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure from products that included an asbestos compound made by Georgia Pacific to fill cracks in sheetrock. At trial, evidence was presented to establish that Georgia Pacific was aware of the dangers posed by exposure to asbestos, and continued to make the compound until the federal government banned asbestos in the late 1970s.

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Joan Mahoney is a former actress and singer who toured several times with the USO, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle at the time of the jury award. From the 1970s to the 1990s, she and her husband ran a home remodeling business. In August 2006, she was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer. She had been the caretaker of her husband, who had suffered a stroke that left him paralyzed and unable to speak. As a result of the debilitating effects of her cancer, Joan Mahoney had to place her husband in a nursing home to ensure he got proper care.

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer found in the lining of the chest and lung. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and it is often not diagnosed for 20 to 40 years after exposure. As a result of the long latency period, the cancer is very advanced when it is diagnosed and life expectancy with the disease is limited.

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.

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