The family of a former employer of the popular cruise line, Carnival Cruise, won $3.6 million this month in an asbestos lawsuit that stemmed from his asbestos exposure while working as an electrician.
According to reports, Benedetto Caraffa, an Italy citizen, was employed by Carnival Cruise as an electrician from 1985 to 2000. Almost daily, he was exposed to asbestos fibers while working in the engine and machine rooms of several vessels, including Carnival’s Tropicale, Festivale, Mardi Gras, and Carnivale. The ships have since been put out of service for use, but all four vessels used asbestos as insulation.
Caraffa developed asbestos-related lung cancer in 2001, and died only a few short years later in 2005. A lawsuit against Carnival was filed on behalf of Caraffa by his widow and two adult children, who were originally seeking over $10 million.
According to court documents, one of the physicians who treated Caraffa, Dr. Edward Coopersmith, testified under oath that while Caraffa was a smoker in his early life, it was not what caused his lung cancer. Coopersmith went on to state that it was the daily exposure to asbestos that ultimately caused lung cancer, which led to his death. Caraffa quit smoking in the early 1980s before he began working for Carnival.
In addition, the plaintiffs presented powerful information from a surviving former crew member of Carnival, Giorgio Rispoli. Working as a chief engineer, Rispoli testified that there was an abundance of asbestos throughout many areas of the ship he worked on, the Caraffa. Rispoli was also diagnosed with cancer.
Verdict Sides with Plaintiffs
After a nine-day trial and a 3 1/2 hour jury deliberation, marking the first time Carnival has went to trial for an asbestos issues, the jury deliberated the verdict in favor of the plaintiffs. A total of $10.3 million was originally awarded. However, the total that the family received includes $192,00 in damages was awarded to Caraffa’s widow, an additional $128,000 in lost earnings, and $19,504 for funeral expenses. Sadly, the award amount was reduced 65% due to comparative negligence that the jurors assigned to Caraffa, making the total amount won $3.6 million.
“This is the first time an asbestos case against a cruise line has gone to trial,” said the plaintiffs’ attorney. “I think it’s an important case because older cruise workers who may have recently been diagnosed with pulmonary issues related to asbestos exposure on cruise ships now have a path for compensation.”
Asbestos Threats Against Cruise Ship Workers
Caraffa is among a myriad of workers who worked in older cruise ships that contained asbestos. Many of these cruise ships still contain asbestos. For instance, the Hebridean Princess, a UK cruise ship that provides cruises around Shetland and Orkney islands, was found to have airborne asbestos fibers. The ship went through renovations in December 2009, yet there was no asbestos survey carried out before the work began, although a previous 2008 survey indicated that the ship did indeed contain asbestos.
After several workers complained of potential asbestos exposure, tests were carried out which revealed that there was airborne asbestos on the ship. The owners of the cruise ship were fined a substantial amount for not properly handling the asbestos situation before allowing anyone to work on the vessel.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), anyone who works on the renovation of any type of older vessels, including cruise ships, are at risk of asbestos exposure. This is why an asbestos survey and abatement project must be done prior to allowing anyone to work on an older ship that was constructed with asbestos or asbestos-containing materials.
Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been injured by asbestos, you may qualify for substantial compensation. There is currently more than $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set aside for victims of asbestos and their loved ones. We invite you to get in touch with our experienced mesothelioma lawyers today for more information and for a free, confidential case consultation.