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

3 families benefit from $12.5 million asbestos damage award

A natural material was mined for its strength and other valuable properties. Long before it was discovered the mineral's fibers could cause serious health problems, asbestos found its way into numerous products, particularly building materials. The fibers touched the lives of makers of the products and Pittsburgh consumers who bought them.

The families of three construction workers – an insulator, a steamfitter and an electrician – recently won a collective damage award of $12.5 million. The men worked in jobs that exposed them to asbestos fibers. Each died from mesothelioma.

The claim, heard over four months in a state Supreme Court, blamed various companies or organizations the men worked with or for, like Consolidated Edison Co. Also named was the general contractor for the World Trade Center, where the steamfitter was employed during the original construction. A plastering company who treated the World Trade Center with a fireproofing spray containing asbestos also was a defendant.

The insulator was a Consolidated Edison employee in the middle of the last century. The company was found 30 percent liable for the man's asbestos injuries. The estate was awarded $3.5 million.

The plastering firm was liable for 25 percent of the $6 million award for the steamfitter's estate. The electrician's estate was awarded $3 million. Fifteen percent liability for the electrician's estate claim was assigned to two asbestos product makers.

Some defendants were liable in one case but not others. Some were cleared of liability, including the New York and New Jersey Port Authority. The Port Authority was the site owner of the World Trade Center.

Asbestos was used widely, even after the material's connection to life-threatening diseases. Some companies knew the risks but were willing to expose workers to asbestos. The mineral's use decreased after the rise of legal claims over asbestos injuries, but the material was not outlawed entirely; it remains an ingredient in many products.

Source: Legal Newsline Legal Journal, "Four-month asbestos trial ends with $12.5M verdict for three N.Y. construction workers" Heather Isringhausen Gvillo, Apr. 01, 2014

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Caroselli, Beachler & Coleman, L.L.C.
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Pittsburgh, PA 15222

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