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Lawsuit Over Asbestos On Father’s Clothes Results in Defense Verdict

A Kentucky jury has rejected claims by the son of a former utility worker who filed an asbestos lawsuit alleging that he contracted mesothelioma from fibers carried home on his father’s clothing when he was a child. 

The mesothelioma lawsuit was originally filed by Eddie McCauley, 45, against about 30 defendants who manufactured or worked with asbestos products decades ago. However, all of those co-defendants reached confidential settlements with McCauley, except for Union Carbide, who decided to take the case to trial.

McCauley was diagnosed in 2008 with pleural mesothelioma. The lawsuit, filed in 2009, claimed that McCauley received asbestos exposure from work clothes used by his father, Jerry McCauley, who worked in construction and maintenance for Louisville Gas & Electric. McCauley said that he and his brothers shared a room that also served as the family’s wash room.

The second-hand asbestos exposure lawsuit alleged that McCauley’s father worked with a number of products that contained Calidria, an asbestos-based joint compound made by Union Carbide. The lawsuit claimed that the company failed to warn workers about the dangers asbestos exposure posed for themselves and their families.

Following a six day trial last month, the jury ruled 9-3 in favor of Union Carbide, resulting in a defense verdict.

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.

In recent years, a growing number of second-hand asbestos exposure lawsuits over mesothelioma have been filed by those who were not directly exposed to asbestos, but by living in the same house as those who came into direct contact. Family members who washed clothes, children who were held by their parents after arriving from work covered in asbestos fibers and other similar situations have resulted in successful lawsuits against the manufacturers of asbestos and products containing asbestos.

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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