Wrongful Death Victim Awarded $35 Million for Failure to Warn of Asbestos Risks
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that is caused exclusively by asbestos exposure but many workers in construction, shipyards and other occupations were unnecessarily exposed to the carcinogen by employers, business owners and property owners who failed to warn of the danger. The family of a man involved in a wrongful death product liability lawsuit against Crane Co., which manufactures industrial products, was recently awarded $35 million in an asbestos-related lawsuit.
Ivo John Peraica, whose tragic and painful death was caused by mesothelioma, had been a member of the Heat and Insulators Union. He had spent eight years removing asbestos but was never warned by his employer of the potential risk associated with the dangerous substance. The evidence established that he had been exposed to the microscopic fibers when he removed asbestos from pumps, boilers and other HVAC equipment.
The failure to warn claim was based on evidence provided at trial that indicated that managerial employees within the company knew of the potential health risks associated with asbestos as early as 1930 but did not warn lower level employees of this risk. Although those in management had knowledge of the risk for almost fifty years, they allegedly did not provide warnings despite the fact that Peraica was still working for the company in the 1980s.
While the jury did not impose punitive damages, the extent of the compensatory damages reveals the importance of effectively communicating to a jury the non-economic damages in a toxic tort or other personal injury lawsuit. The man was retired so he had no economic loss from employment. This made the aspect of his damages comprised of intangibles like pain and suffering, impaired quality of life and similar forms of damages critical.
The jury’s award of $35 million was largely based on the extensive evidence provided on the level of pain and suffering that Periaca was forced to endure. This evidence included testimony by an occupational health specialist and a mesothelioma medical expert. The deposition taken of Peraica prior to his death while the case was ongoing was played for the jury. This testimony and evidence contrasting his quality of life prior to and after contracting the disease along with emotional testimony from his daughter regarding the extent of his pain and suffering obviously had a profound impact on the jury.
If you develop mesothelioma, it is important to understand that the disease only occurs in those exposed to asbestos. Our Georgia mesothelioma attorneys at Montlick and Associates carefully analyze our clients’ occupations history to identify parties responsible for our client’s exposure.
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