Secondary Asbestos Exposure Lawsuit Results in $27M Jury Award

An Ohio jury has awarded $27.5 million to a college professor who contracted mesothelioma from secondary exposure to asbestos fibers, which were carried home on his father’s clothes when he was a child.  

John Panza, 40, and his wife, Jane, filed a mesothelioma lawsuit against Kelsy-Hayes Co., which used to be known as National Friction Products.

According to the allegations raised at trial, Panza’s father, John Sr., brought home asbestos dust on his work clothes during 31 years of working at the Eaton Airflex brake company. The asbestos exposure reportedly came from brake pads manufactured by National Friction Products.

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Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Exposure to asbestos can cause the development of mesothelioma. Lawsuits have been filed nationwide against asbestos manufacturers.


John Panza, Sr., died of lung cancer in 1994, and his son was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2012.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer, which is only known to be caused by exposure to asbestos and breathing asbestos fibers.  It is a lethal disease that is often at a very advanced stage when a diagnosis is made, resulting in a very short life-expectancy.

Following an 11 day trial in Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court, a jury returned a verdict last month of $27.5 million in damages, including $515,000 in economic damages and $12 million in non-economic damages awarded to John Panza, as well as $15 million awarded to his wife for loss of consortium. The verdict is believed to be the largest of its kind in Ohio history, with the previous largest mesothelioma damage award being $6.4 million.

While 40% of the liability in this recent case was placed on Eaton Airflex, which has immunity due to Ohio law, Kelsey-Hayes is fully responsible for the entire damages. The company is expected to appeal.

Mesothelioma litigation is the longest-running mass tort in U.S. history, with more than 600,000 people having filed a lawsuit against more than 6,000 defendants after being diagnosed with cancer that was allegedly caused by inhaling asbestos fibers.

In addition to claims for workers exposed to asbestos, in recent years there have been a growing number of mesothelioma lawsuits 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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  • DonnellNovember 16, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    I was a street sweeper for about 10 years my doctor informed me this year that I have been exposed to asbestos fibers. I was also in the navy about 50 years ago n worked in a ship yard, how can I know at what point in time did the exposure take place.

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