Mesothelioma Cancer Lawsuit Results in $1.2M Verdict

The family of a retired high-ranking U.S. Navy sailor will receive $1.2 million in compensation as a result of his death from mesothelioma cancer brought on by asbestos exposure while working on naval vessels.

A jury in New Port News, Virginia awarded $4 million to the family of Gerald Gray in a lawsuit filed against five manufacturers of ship parts that contained asbestos. Four of the manufacturers settled out of court for undisclosed amounts and are excluded from paying their portions of the verdict. The remaining defendant, John Crane, Inc. of Illinois, will be responsible for 30% of the award, or $1.2 million.

The mesothelioma cancer lawsuit alleged that the manufacturers knew that there were problems with asbestos fibers used in a variety of navy ship components and took no action to protect or inform sailors like Gray.

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Gerald Grey, who achieved the second-highest rank attainable by an enlisted sailor, worked on several different ships throughout his 20-year career and his family claimed that he developed cancer as a result of breathing in asbestos fibers during repair jobs.

Mesothelioma is rare form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, which is almost always fatal. It can occur from direct exposure to the toxic fibers or indirectly through family members who worked with the material.

Attacking the lining of the chest and lung, Mesothelioma can cause symptoms like shortness of breath, chest wall pain and weight loss. It is often not detected until it is in an advanced stage, resulting in a median survival time of under one year.

Mesothelioma litigation is the longest-running mass tort in the history of the United States. There have been more than 600,000 plaintiffs who have filed cases since the first asbestos lawsuit was filed in 1929, and estimates suggest that payouts to individuals diagnosed with mesothelioma and other asbestos-related injuries may one day reach a combined total of more than $200 billion.

Gray, who made a videotape for the jury before his death, died five weeks before the trial. He was a command master chief for the U.S. Navy’s Atlantic fleet before retiring in 1971. He became a school teacher in Chesapeake, and did not show symptoms of mesothelioma cancer until February 2008.

According to the New Port News Daily Press, the $4 million verdict by the jury included $2.25 million for Gray’s pain and suffering, $1.1 million compensation for the family, $466,434 for medical bills, $9,364 for funeral bills and $167,000 in interest.


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