Shipyard Worker Mesothelioma Lawsuit Results in $25M Verdict
A Virginia jury has awarded $25 million to a former shipyard worker who filed a mesothelioma lawsuit against Exxon Mobil.
The verdict was handed down Thursday in Newport News Circuit Court, in a claim filed by Rupert “Bert” Minton, 72, who was a repair supervisor at Newport News Shipbuilding from 1966 to 1977. He also worked there for seven years before that as a ship fitter.
According to the complaint, Minton worked on 17 Exxon oil tankers, during which he was exposed to asbestos and contracted mesothelioma. As a result of the rare form of cancer linked to asbestos exposure, Minton has been told that he has about two years left to live.
The Newport News jury awarded Minton $12.4 million in compensatory damages and hit Exxon Mobile with $12.5 million in punitive damages. The decision came following a three-week trial and a day of jury deliberation.
Exxon Mobil is expected to appeal the decision, which will likely stretch the process out beyond Minton’s life expectancy.
Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the chest and lungs, which 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 throughout the last century, with use peaking in 1973. Most uses of asbestos were banned in the mid-1980s, but given the long period of time that usually passes between exposure and diagnosis, the number of mesothelioma deaths has continued to rise, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Lawsuits over mesothelioma from asbestos exposure are 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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