Washington Mesothelioma Lawsuit Verdict of $10.2M for Paper Mill Worker

A former paper mill worker and his wife have been awarded $10.2 million in a mesothelioma lawsuit in Washington over exposure to asbestos fibers from dryer fabrics during his nearly 40 year career.

A Seattle jury awarded the damages to Henry and Geraldine Barbin last month in a lawsuit filed against Scapa Dryer Fabrics, Inc. and AstenJohnson Inc. Both companies are former manufacturers of asbestos-laden dryer fabrics used on paper machines where Henry Barbin worked as a laborer between 1964 and 2001.

The Barabin’s asbestos lawsuit alleged that the asbestos dryer fabrics were defectively designed and failed to include warnings about the dangers of asbestos exposure. After working as a pulp tester, paper tester and in other paper mill positions, Henry Barabin was diagnosed with mesothelioma cancer in 2006.

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Henry Barabin was awarded $700,000 for medical expenses, lost income and household services and $8 million in non-economic damages for pain and suffering. His wife was awarded another $1.5 million for her loss of consortium claim.

Mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer found in the lining of the chest and lung. The only known cause of mesothelioma is asbestos exposure, and it is often not diagnosed for 20 to 40 years after exposure. As a result of the long latency period, the cancer is very advanced when it is diagnosed and life expectancy with the disease is limited.

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.

Although paper mill workers are often not listed among groups that are most at-risk for asbestos exposure, a French study of about 163,000 paper mill workers who worked in the industry for less than a year between 1945 and 1996 found that 36% of them had been exposed to asbestos. The study found that the rate of mesothelioma deaths was three times higher among paper mill workers who had been exposed to asbestos than for those who had not.


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