According to Mealey’s Litigation Report, a periodical that provides information regarding litigation, the average mesothelioma verdict amounts (including all asbestos-related cases) are around $6 million per case. This is a substantial increase from prior years when plaintiffs were awarded around $900,00 on average for the same types of cases. The individual mesothelioma verdict amount greatly depends on the diagnosis of the plaintiff, how long the plaintiff has been living the with disease, and other factors. No two mesothelioma lawsuits are exactly alike, and therefore the verdicts are almost always different, according to each case. While some cases will garner much higher than the average verdict amount, others may be much lower.
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The following are some of the highest asbestos-related verdicts in history, yet with verdict amounts increasing seemingly each year, these numbers may grow higher in future cases:
- In 1999, Deward Ballard, a former employee of Owens Corning, filed a lawsuit against the company after he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. Ballard stated that during the 1960s and throughout the 1970s while working for Owens Corning, he was exposed to asbestos on a daily basis even though the manufacturers and company knew about the dangers associated with asbestos exposure. Owens Corning filed to dismiss, but the motion was denied. A few years later, a verdict was rendered and Ballard received $31 million in punitive and compensatory damages.
A $26.6 million verdict was awarded to Michael and Suszi Sutherland after a California jury determined that the county of San Diego was responsible for Michael’s exposure to asbestos which ultimately led to the development of malignant mesothelioma. Michael worked as a drywaller for the city of San Diego during the 1970s, a time when an array of materials were filled with asbestos, such as caulk, compounds, joints, drywall, and more. According to Michael, he was always in a rush to complete one job and move on to the next. As a result, it was almost always dusty at his job sites, with asbestos fibers flying airborne as he completed his work.
In May 2011, a Mississippi jury awarded plaintiff Thomas Brown $322 million in his compensation suit against Union Carbide. At the time, this was the largest asbestos verdict in U.S. history and included $300 million in punitive damages against the multinational company. However, this award was reversed by another court in Mississippi when Judge Eddie Bowen, who had presided over the trial, admitted to Union Carbide lawyers that his father had sued the company’s Dow Chemical division in an asbestos-related case. The elder Bowen had been tested for asbestosis, but Judge Bowen had not revealed this fact or named his father before presiding over Brown’s case As a result, the judge ordered by the state Supreme Court to remove himself from the trial.
Eugene Mccarthy, a three-pack a day smoker, won a verdict of $8.5 million in 2011 after a New York judge determined that it wasn’t smoking that led to lung cancer, which eventually killed him. Mccarthy worked on gaskets provided by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. in Canada, which contained excessive amounts of asbestos. In addition, another plaintiff who worked with products manufactured by Goodyear, Walter Koczur, was awarded a $13 million verdict after the same judge determined that his lung cancer was also caused by asbestos exposure. The cases marked the first time ever that Goodyear fought against the charges.
In February of 2012, a Newport News, Virginia jury handed down a $9.8 million verdict to a former shipyard who died the previous year from an asbestos-related disease. John K. Bristow was 68-year-old when he passed away. He worked at Newport News Shipbuilding for over 30 years. When he retired, he was a design engineer. Bristow’s mesothelioma attorneys filed the lawsuit against John Crane Inc., the company responsible for supplying asbestos-containing products used at the shipyard during the time period Bristow was employed there. The lawsuit was filed on behalf of Bristow’s survivors, including a wife and two children.
Another large verdict came in 2012 when Bobbi Izell, a former construction worker, was awarded $48 million against 10 different companies. Izell was diagnosed with mesothelioma at the age of 85, after working around asbestos throughout the 1960s and 1970s. The main party responsible, at 65%, was Union Carbide, the manufacturers of the asbestos used in products that Izell was exposed to. Although other companies were responsible as well, jurors decided that Union Carbide acted with malice when they kept the health risks of asbestos confidential and allowed their workers to be continuously exposed for decades.
In 2002, on of the largest asbestos lawsuit verdicts in California was handed down when Alfred Todak was awarded $33.7 million. Todak, a former Navy electrician from San Francisco, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2001. The defendant, Foster Wheeler Corporation, was responsible for manufacturing, supplying, and designing several components that contained asbestos, including insulation, gaskets, and boilers that were used by the United States Navy. Todak was exposed to asbestos at several different job sites while working for the Navy, including the Bethlehem Steel Mill in Seattle, and the Lockheed Shipbuilding and Construction Company, also in Seattle.
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