The family of an Alabama woman has been awarded $3.5 million in a wrongful death lawsuit against the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), as a result of a diagnosis of mesothelioma from second-hand asbestos exposure caused by fibers carried home on her husband’s work clothes.
The judgment was was entered earlier this month by Judge Lynwood Smith in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama, over the 2013 death of Barbara Bobo, whose husband cleaned up after asbestos insulation at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant in Athens, which is owned and operated by TVA.
James Bobo died of asbestos-related lung cancer in 1997, after working at the facility since 1975. The complaint filed on behalf of Barbara Bobo alleged that asebstos fibers were carried home on his clothing, where she then was exposed while doing his laundry.
Barbara Bobo was diagnosed in November 2011 with mesothelioma, which is a rare type of cancer that is only caused by exposure to asbestos. Given the long latency period between exposure to asbestos fibers and a mesothelioma diagnosis, the disease is often at a very advanced stage by the time it is diagnosed.
The $3.5 million judgment included damages for pain, suffering and medical expenses awarded for her daughters, Melissa Ann Bobo and Shannon Jean Bobo Cox. The judge determined in his ruling that TVA violated worker safety regulations, as well as its own safety policies.
Asbestos has been used in a variety of manufacturing and building industries, but most uses in the United States were banned more than 30 years ago. However, asbestos may cause a variety of ailments, such as mesothelioma, that do not surface until decades after exposure.
In 2009, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicated that the number of asbestos deaths from mesothelioma were continuing to rise, but were expected to have peaked by now as more time passes since the substance was banned.
Asbestos exposure lawsuits have been one of the largest mass-torts in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a case against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with mesothelioma or other related injuries that were allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.
While mesothelioma lawsuits have traditionally been filed by individuals who worked with asbestos-containing products, an increasing number of secondary exposure mesothelioma cases have been brought in recent years on behalf of spouses, children and other family members who developed the disease after breathing asbestos fibers brought home in the hair or on the clothing of individuals who worked directly with the material.