Plant Worker’s Family Wins $14M in Asbestos Lawsuit

A South Carolina man’s family won $14 million after a jury found that the Texas-based materials manufacturing company, Celanese Corp., was responsible for his asbestos-related death.

Dennis Seay, 70, passed away in 2014 from malignant mesothelioma. He was diagnosed in 2013 and went through extensive and invasive treatments, including having his lungs drained 11 times after they collapsed 10 times. The process was painful, adding to his mounting difficulties in handling the disease.

Seay worked at a Celanese factory as a maintenance worker for almost a decade, from 1971 until 1979, while he was an employee for the Daniel Construction Co. Like many factories during that time, it contained exorbitant amounts of asbestos and asbestos-containing materials. Although it was well-known by then that asbestos was extremely dangerous to human health, the Celanese Corp. continued to use it and place workers at risk of developing fatal illnesses.

Seay’s family filed an asbestos lawsuit at the 7th Judicial Circuit of South Carolina, in the Spartanburg County Courthouse. Along with suing the Celanese Corp., the family’s attorney also stated the John Crane Co. was also responsible for providing asbestos-containing materials (ACMs) to the factory. Along with providing asbestos-containing gaskets to the factory, the companies also provided numerous other products, including asbestos insulation.

The jury agreed with the plaintiffs and awarded Seay’s family $14 million in damages after a 13-day trial, which includes $12 million in compensatory damages and the remaining $2 million in punitive damages. The family attorney indicated that the amount was appropriate for these types of cases and that Celanese made no attempts at all to try and settle lawsuit, even though they knew full-well they were guilty of supplying asbestos.

“You’ve got a company that had no way of running away from the fact that they knew the hazards of asbestos, period. “

The attorney also stated that the Seay family lawsuit is noteworthy because it’s not often that a contractor working as an employee for another company is victorious when suing a different company.

“You don’t see a lot of premises cases tried.”

The Celanese Corp. tried to pin responsibility on the company Seay was employed by, Daniel Construction Co.. Celanese argued that Daniel Construction was responsible for the safety of their workers, including overseeing they had proper safety gear when working around hazardous materials. However, since South Carolina law forbids workers from suing their employers in these types of lawsuits, Daniel Construction was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit.

John Crane prevailed in the lawsuit due to arguing successfully that asbestos-containing gaskets that are sealed pose no threat. The family’s attorney stated that the jury was confused over this matter, although it doesn’t necessarily mean that John Crane wasn’t responsible, indicating that the product needn’t be defective or broken for a company to be liable for damages.

Additional Help and Resources for Asbestos Victims

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other illness related to asbestos, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. There is currently over $30 billion in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who are victims to asbestos-related diseases. Use our free Asbestos Attorney Locator Tool today to find a leading mesothelioma attorney in your area. For additional assistance, feel free to contact us at 800-694-4856.