Mesothelioma Lawsuit Results in $2.4M Verdict, Including Punitives
A tile setter’s association has been ordered to pay $2.4 million in damages to a New Haven worker who died of mesothelioma from asbestos exposure, including $800,000 in punitive damages designed to punish the defendant for it’s behavior.
The complaint was filed by the family of Hannibal Saldibar, a former tile setter who died from mesothelioma in January 2010.
Saldibar, who was 84 at the time of his death, worked for 30 years as part of the the trade association Tile Council of North America, which was the defendant in the lawsuit.
Following trial in Connecticut, a state court jury found that Saldibar contracted mesothelioma from working with asbestos-containing mortar developed by the Tile Council, awarding the family $1.6 million in compensatory damages. The jury also awarded $800,000 in punitive damages, which are rare in mesothelioma lawsuits, reserved for cases where the plaintiff is able to establish that the defendant acted with blatant disregard for the well-being of the plaintiff.
Although the Tile Council attempted to argue that it had no part in the actual manufacture of the mortar, they did develop the formulas for the adhesive characteristics and was a seller of the mortar, licensing it and selling it.
The plaintiffs alleged that the council was grossly negligent, and engaged in willful, wanton, malicious and/or outrageous behavior because they knew of the dangers of asbestos since at least 1929 and failed to take steps to protect Saldibar, who worked as a tile setter from 1946 to 1979.
Mesothelioma cancer, which is found in the lining of the chest and lungs, 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 a mesothelioma 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. When inhaled, asbestos fibers can cause asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Asbestos litigation is the longest running mass tort in U.S. history, with the first 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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