Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.

$27.5 million victory for second-hand mesthelioma sufferer

Where you live and work can include dangers you never dreamed possible. The contamination of a product you help make or a land or water source near your Pittsburgh home can cause illness and death.

Researchers have linked asbestos fibers, once commonly used in the insulation of buildings, to several deadly health conditions including lung cancer and mesothelioma. Victims of asbestos-related diseases often trace their conditions to environments where fibers were plentiful. In some cases, exposure is second-hand.

A jury in a nearby state agreed a married couple suffered from the negligent actions of a brake-making company and a brake pad manufacturer. The brake manufacturer employed the husband's father, who died of lung cancer after repeated exposure to asbestos over more than 30 years.

The son alleged he was the victim of second-hand exposure to asbestos dust and fibers embedded in his father's work clothes. The husband was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma two years ago and lost one of his lungs to the disease. The wife argued her quality of life suffered due to the 40-year-old husband's health condition.

The jury faulted the defendants for making a defective product and failing to warn against the potential dangers. The court awarded more than $12.5 million to the husband and $15 million to the wife, after linking the product and father's employment with the son's asbestos injury.

Under that state's rules, the employer - assigned 40 percent of the blame - could not be held accountable for the injury. By default, the brake pad manufacturer is required to pay all damages.

Pennsylvania's joint and several liability law does not permit a defendant to be penalized by a co-defendant's lack of funds. The plaintiff's damage award is reduced by whatever a defendant cannot pay.

The exception is when one defendant's share of blame is 60 percent or greater. In that case, the defendant is responsible for the full award.

Source: Legal Newsline Legal Journal, "Ohio jury awards 40-year-old $27M in second-hand asbestos exposure case" Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Jan. 27, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
20 Stanwix Street, Seventh Floor
Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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