The following example of a mesothelioma cancer lawsuit illustrates several important legal issues regarding asbestos exposure. We review some background information, liability, injuries, negotiations, and the final case resolution.
Maxwell was a blacksmith many years ago at a time when it was a necessary career for forging and repairing various metals. He used fire to heat metal and then form it as needed. In his career, he made and sharpened tools and parts. He also worked for many local farriers to make horseshoes for all the local horses.
Maxwell had devoted his entire life to becoming a blacksmith following the careers of his father, grandfather and great-grandfather. He completed an apprenticeship program and began working at the age of 12 after school. Because Maxwell dealt with intense heat in his trade, he was exposed to asbestos.
The cause of mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos. As a result, many industrial laborers like Maxwell were widely subjected to asbestos exposure on the job, because the risks associated with asbestos were not discovered until late in the 20th century.
In addition, few of these workers knew they were being exposed to asbestos which put them at risk for mesothelioma. In many cases, even though the employees were not aware of the risks, the manufacturers were aware that the material was hazardous.
What makes this so detrimental is that the symptoms of mesothelioma do not appear in an individual exposed to asbestos until many years after the exposure has occurred, which puts most of them in advanced (often incurable) stages of the disease by the time it is detected.
Maxwell worked in a metal shop that was owned by Industrial Badmetal, Inc. There are two major kinds of asbestos that this manufacturer used. Chrysotile, sometimes referred to as "white" asbestos, is the sole mineral of the serpentine group and was the form most frequently used.
It is a relatively soft variety that is usually not associated with mesothelioma or asbestos cancer. However, when inhaled, serpentine asbestos may cause abrasions on the interior surfaces of the lungs. Asbestosis may then be the outcome when abrasions build up in the lungs.
Industrial Badmetal also used the Amphibole group which is much more dangerous. Being exposed to amphibole asbestos is the primary cause of mesothelioma, which causes the fatal cancer of the mesothelium (the lining between the lungs and the pleural cavity).
Industrial Badmetal paid for a study which determined that Chrysotile and Amphibole asbestos were dangerous and carcinogenic, however notwithstanding that information, they continued to expose their employees to them.
Maxwell saw a commercial for one of the largest firms dealing with mesothelioma litigation. After contacting them, they accepted his case and filed suit against Industrial Badmetal, Inc.
Maxwell had advanced, stage 4 mesothelioma and passed away 5 months after the case was filed. Prior to passing away, Maxwell experienced years of lower back pain, side chest pain, shortness of breath, difficulty swallowing, a persistent cough, periodic fevers, weight loss and fatigue.
In the latter years, Maxwell also experienced muscle weakness, loss of sensory capability, coughing up blood, facial and arm swelling and hoarseness, substantially reducing his quality of life.
There were no settlement negotiations on this case and it went directly to trial. The firm continued the mesothelioma cancer lawsuit on behalf of his estate which included his wife and surviving six adult children.
Even though Maxwell had passed away, the court recognized that he spent many years of his life dealing with the debilitating condition of mesothelioma.
Maxwell's estate received a jury verdict of $2.4 million against his former employer which included punitive damages (since his employer knew about the dangers yet did not warn its employees).
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