Jury Awards Millions in Ohio Asbestos Lawsuit

A jury in the Cuyahoga County Circuit Court in Ohio awarded $27 million earlier this year to a Cleveland couple after the husband contracted mesothelioma via second-hand exposure from his father’s clothes.

According to court reports, John Panza was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma in 2012 at only 40-years-old. Unlike the most common asbestos lawsuits in which the claimant developed an illness after prolonged exposure at work, John was exposed to the dangerous mineral through his dad’s work clothes. His dad worked for Eaton Airflex for over 30 years, where he was exposed on a daily basis to asbestos. Eaton Airflex, a manufacturer of brakes, used asbestos-containing products that were supplied by National Friction Products Corporation.   Consequently, John’s father died of lung cancer in 1993.

In January of this year, during an 11-day trial, evidence proved that National Friction Products Corporation, now known as Kelsey-Hayes Co., acted negligently by not giving the appropriate warnings as well as failing to give proper instructions regarding their products’ design. As a result, the jury awarded both John and his wife Jane a sum of $27 million.

The plaintiff’s attorney showed enough evidence that placed John’s father around asbestos for several years while working. In turn, the fine fibers of asbestos were attached to the father’s work clothes on a daily basis. John inhaled those fibers after his dad came home from work.

“This case was all about a young man, with a young family, who was victimized by the greed of the asbestos industry,” the attorney said.

For economic damages, John awarded $515,000. An additional $12 million was awarded for non-economical damages. Per the jury’s decision, Kelsey-Hayes was liable for 60% of the damages. The other 40% liability fell on Eaton Airflex for failure to warn employees of the dangers of the products used while working at the company.

Jane Panza was awarded $15 for loss of consortium. John’s life has significantly changed after being diagnosed with mesothelioma, and his life expectancy rate has dramatically decreased. Currently, he is an English teacher at a local community college. He has one child with Jane, a 6-year-old daughter.

Each year, more and more asbestos lawsuits are being filed. Even though the use of asbestos was regulated over 20 years ago, cases are still coming about because of the long latency period associated with developing an asbestos-related disease. In most cases, it takes at least 30 years, if not more, for the symptoms of mesothelioma and asbestosis to develop. John was still a young child when he was exposed second-hand to asbestos, yet it took over 30 years until he was diagnosed.

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been exposed to asbestos due to the negligence and carelessness of another party, you may be entitled to compensatory damages for lost wages, medical bills, pain, suffering, and more. You’ll need an attorney who specializes in asbestos to ensure you have the best chances of winning your case. For more information, contact our leading asbestos attorneys today for a free case evaluation.

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