New York Family Wins $1.42 in Mesothelioma Lawsuit

After almost two weeks, a manufacturer based out of Chicago, Illinois was found guilty in an asbestos lawsuit in which a Cheektowaga, New York man developed mesothelioma after serving in the military. The trial, which took place in Buffalo, New York, found enough evidence that proved that asbestos manufacturer’s gaskets was the main cause of the plaintiff’s illness.

According to court records, gasket manufacturer,  John Crane Inc., created and manufactured engine spaces that were shipped to the military and used on United States Navy ships. The plaintiff, William R. Voelker, 65, who worked aboard naval ships, was exposed to asbestos for numerous years, from 1967-1971. Voelkner passed away from mesothelioma complications in 2013, ut his family continued the lawsuit on his behalf.

Although Voelkner lived in Cheektowaga, his case was handled in a Buffalo court because Voelkner was also exposed to asbestos on a daily basis while growing up in the area, as his father, who worked around asbestos as well, would return home daily to the family home with asbestos fibers littered in his hair, clothing, and on his skin.

According to the Voelkner family attorney, Voelkner’s father worked for Republic Steel during the 1940s, a time in which asbestos was heavily used at numerous jobs sites. Other asbestos companies responsible for supplying the harmful material were previously named in the lawsuit, but those companies had already settled, leaving only John Crane Inc.

The asbestos attorney also indicated during trial that John Crane. Inc. had knowledge of the dangers that asbestos posed to people as far as the 1940s, but chose to hide the information from workers and the public in order to continue to profit off it. Asbestos was not only easy to use, but it was extremely cheap for manufacturers to obtain and use in various parts and products.

Although the defendants claimed that Voelkner’s asbestos exposure could have came from any of the many various parts and products in the Navy that contained asbestos, the jury determined that it had enough to proof to hold John Crane Inc. responsible. The defendant also claimed that asbestos was “capsulated” within the engine spaces, and that workers were safe. However, the plaintiff’s attorney adamently disagreed.

“Nothing could be further from the truth. Anyone who worked in the engine spaces of these ships would be exposed.”

In turn, the plaintiffs were awarded  $1.42 million. More than $40,000 of the compensation was for the extensive and costly treatments that Voelkner has to undergo, which included chemotherapy, radiation, and, surgery.

Asbestos Dangers Aboard Naval Shipyards

Prior to the late 1970s, those who worked aboard and around military vessels were constantly exposed to asbestos, as it was used virtually everywhere on ships and in numerous products and machinery found in Navy shipyards. Most workers weren’t given the proper protective gear to wear, and consequently, they breathed in tiny, odorless asbestos fibers each time they went to work.

Asbestos ingestion has been linked to a number of dangerous, life-threatening illnesses, including malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. Although the military no longer uses asbestos, a myriad of veterans now suffer from toxic illnesses, many of which have already passed away from asbestos diseases.

Additional Help and Information for Asbestos Victims

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with an asbestos-related disease, you have the legal right to sue the responsible party for damages. There is currently more than $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who have been injured by asbestos. We invite you to use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool to find an experienced mesothelioma lawyer in your area. 

If you have questions or if you need assistance, you can contact us toll-free at 800-694-4856.

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