Mechanic’s Family Awarded $10.9M in Mesothelioma Lawsuit
A California jury has awarded $10.9 million to the family of an auto mechanic who died from mesothelioma, finding that the fatal cancer was caused by asbestos exposure from brake pads and other car parts made by a Honeywell predecessor.
The wrongful death lawsuit was brought by the family of James Phillips, who died in March 2012 after being diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer that was allegedly caused from his work with Bendix brake pads for decades.
Bendix is now a Honeywell brand, and Honeywell continues to deal with a number of mesothelioma lawsuits involving asbestos-containing Bendix brakes.
The Phillips family filed the complaint against Honeywell in May 2012, and the manufacturer fought to transfer the case to Fresno from Allameda County, where it was originally filed. While Fresno juries are generally considered to be more friendly towards defendants, the move may have backfired on Honeywell.
On June 2, the Fresno jury that heard the case determined that Honeywell should be held liable for the development of mesothelioma from Bendix brake pads and awarded the family $7.4 million in compensatory damages. An additional $3.5 million in punitive damages was levied against the company, which are designed to punish the brake makers reckless indifference towards the safety of workers.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos. It is often not diagnosed until decades after exposure to the toxic fibers, at which time it is often at a very advanced stage and leaves individuals with a very short life-expectancy.
Asbestos exposure litigation has been on-going for decades in the United States, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, lung cancer and other injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers. The complaints all involve similar allegations that companies that manufactured or used asbestos-based products failed to adequately warn about the health risks for workers or to take adequate steps to protect them from exposure.
In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos, in recent years there have been a growing number of mesothelioma lawsuits are brought following second hand exposure, with wives, children and other family members alleging they developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.
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