Deceased Bell Employee’s Family Wins $8.8M in Mesothelioma Lawsuit
Billy Dickson, who was a mechanical engineer at Bell Helicopter’s Hurst (Texas) plant, had developed mesothelioma because of his workplace exposure to hazardous asbestos fibers, according to court documents. He had worked with the aerospace company for almost 38 years. He died from mesothelioma in 2013 when he was 74 years old.
The March 27 verdict comes after a five-day trial and deliberations for five hours. Jurors in the Ninety-fifth District Court found that there was clear evidence to prove Bell was grossly negligent in exposing Billy Dickson to toxic asbestos fibers at his workplace.
As part of his job, Dickson had to test components used to construct helicopters for the Second Indochina War (Vietnam War). He was routinely exposed to asbestos fibers in volumes 200 times greater than the permissible levels, according to trial testimony.
There wasn’t any respiratory protection policy at the time of Billy’s asbestos exposure, the attorney who represented Dickson’s family said. He said the levels of airborne asbestos fibers were so elevated that Dickson generally found himself covered in clouds of hazardous asbestos dust. Dickson’s fatal cancer was a result of his routine inhalation and ingestion of asbestos fibers, the attorney said.
Evidence at court trial revealed that the company knew employees were being exposed to unreasonably hazardous levels of asbestos as early as eight years before Dixon started working at its Hurst plant.
The family’s attorney said Bell knew in the 1950s that exposure to asbestos could have fatal consequences. However, the company failed to do anything for this until the 1970s, he said.
It was in 1963 that Dickson started working at Bell Helicopter’s Hurst facility. Mechanical engineers had been the primary candidates for contracting asbestos-related ailments because, until the 1980s, friction products such as brake pads and clutches were made using asbestos.
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