There are many occupations that have rightly been associated with malignant mesothelioma, the rare and fatal form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. Though it is widely understood that people who worked in high heat settings and in construction or insulation were at risk because of the high levels of asbestos used in their workplace, hearing of a mesothelioma victim in a seemingly safe environment like a lab is shocking. After hearing of such a case, a Miami, Florida jury awarded a former lab technician and his wife $70 million in damages.
Asbestos-Contaminated Laboratory Equipment Blamed for Mesothelioma
The case involved 71-year-old Charles E. Thornton, a former lab technician diagnosed with malignant pleural mesothelioma after years of working for Nabi Pharmaceuticals. When the man was first diagnosed, he immediately began investigating the equipment that he had worked with over the years, and upon filing product liability claims against those whose equipment was contaminated with asbestos, all but GEA Mechanical agreed to settlements.
Rather than provide the elderly man compensation for the pain and suffering caused by their equipment, GEA Mechanical elected to defend themselves against the charge of responsibility for his malignant mesothelioma. After hearing testimony over a two-week period, the jury concluded that asbestos in the company’s blood plasma separating equipment was at fault for Thornton’s illness and awarded the man and his wife $70 million in compensation.
Company’s Failure to Warn Led to Tragic Mesothelioma Diagnosis
Though victims of malignant mesothelioma who win at trial are often awarded significant compensatory awards, the amount that the jury provided to Mr. Thornton and his wife was particularly eye-opening.
Court observers believe that the jury responded to the overwhelming level of grief expressed by Mr. Thornton and his loved ones. He and his wife reportedly had been happily married for over forty years and the two detailed the suffering that both were enduring.