Alfred Mata was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma when he was 64 years old, but unlike most victims of the rare, asbestos-related disease, the California man had not personally worked with or near asbestos. Instead, the toxic material was carried into his family’s home on his father’s work clothing during Alfred’s teen years. Alfred and his wife Leticia filed a lawsuit against his father’s employer, Liberty Utilities Corporation (previously Park Water). The jury agreed that the company was negligent and had acted unreasonably, and awarded the couple $11.3 million in economic, noneconomic and punitive damages.
Asbestos Carried into the Home Can Cause Malignant Mesothelioma
Exposure to asbestos most commonly occurs in the workplace, but the carcinogen’s fibers can stick to skin, hair and clothing, and workers have unwittingly carried the deadly material into their homes and exposed their family members to the risk of malignant mesothelioma. This is exactly what the Matas say led to his illness. During a 12-day trial he described his father Francisco’s work for Park Water, a water service provider. Francisco worked for the company from 1970 to 1989, starting when Alfred was 17. He installed and repaired water pipes made from asbestos-contaminated cement. His work included cutting those pipes, creating dust that he carried into the home where Alfred lived.
Company Accused of Negligence in Man’s Mesothelioma
The jury in the case heard testimony confirming that Park Water’s management was aware of the dangers of asbestos but had done nothing to protect their employees, to warn them of its dangers, or to provide separate lockers for street and work clothing as required by long-standing federal and state health and safety laws. This resulted in Francisco’s clothing being contaminated with asbestos and eventually being carried into his home, where Alfred inhaled the fibers.
Jury Assigns Park Water Majority of Blame for Man’s Mesothelioma
The jury hearing the mesothelioma lawsuit determined that Park Water was 54 percent responsible for Mr. Mata’s mesothelioma, with other named defendants assigned the rest of the blame. Though they initially decided that the company should pay $5 million in punitive damages in addition to $6.3 million in compensatory damages, an appeals court overturned the punitive damages, deciding that there was no deliberate disregard of the dangers of asbestos exposure. The $6.3 million award stood.
Page Reviewed and Edited by Mesothelioma Attorney Paul Danziger
Paul Danziger grew up in Houston, Texas and earned a law degree from Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago. For over 25 years years he has focused on representing mesothelioma cancer victims and others hurt by asbestos exposure. Paul and his law firm have represented thousands of people diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer, recovering significant compensation for injured clients. Every client is extremely important to Paul and he will take every call from clients who want to speak with him. Paul and his law firm handle mesothelioma cases throughout the United States.