A $60 million jury award has been given to the family of Pietro Macaluso, a construction worker who died of malignant pleural mesothelioma after having been exposed to asbestos-contaminated boilers in the 1970s and 1980s. Macaluso worked in homes located throughout Brookly, doing demolitions that required ripping the boilers and their pipes out and sending their asbestos insulation into the air, where he inhaled it. After having been diagnosed with the condition in 2015, he died in July of 2016 at the age of 56. The $60 million will be split between his girlfriend, Mary Murphy-Clagett and his 11-year-old twins.
Two separate asbestos companies accused of causing a Washington State man’s illness attempted to have the mesothelioma lawsuit filed against them dismissed after his death, but the United States District Court in Washington state struck down all of their arguments and ordered that the case go to trial.
Mesothelioma victims were already celebrating this week after a New Jersey jury had awarded $37 million in compensatory damages to a 46-year-old banker who traced his own diagnosis back to years of using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based powder products, which he claimed were contaminated with asbestos. But the celebration reached a new level on Wednesday, when the same jury redoubled their message by adding another $80 million in punitive damages to be paid to the man and his wife.
When planning a vacation to an exotic location, you might think about dysentery, or bed bugs, or being the victim of a pickpocket, but you likely aren’t thinking about your risk of malignant mesothelioma. Unfortunately, a group of asbestos experts are warning that there is a small but real risk that must be kept in mind – especially for those visiting Asia and choosing low budget accommodations. This is because the material is commonly used in the Far East, and inexpensive hotels are more likely to fall prey to deterioration that would send microscopic asbestos particles into the air where they could be inhaled, or even into kitchen preparation surfaces where they could contaminate the food that you’re about to eat.
Consumer product giant Johnson & Johnson (J&J) has been handed a shattering blow by a New Jersey jury that found it and another company liable for a 46-year-old man diagnosed with mesothelioma, the rare and fatal form of cancer. Stephen Lanzo and his wife were awarded $37 million after they sued both Johnson & Johnson and Imerys, a French-based company that provided the asbestos-contaminated talc used in J & J’s baby powder and Shower to Shower product. The jury assigned 70 percent of the blame on Johnson and Johnson and 30 percent of the blame on Imerys in the first phase of the trial, which only addressed compensatory damages: the jury will review the details of the case again on Tuesday to consider punitive damages.
The question of whether Claire’s makeup products could be exposing children to the risk of malignant mesothelioma has been tossed around since December, when a consumer’s requested analysis revealed asbestos in several products. Following months of back and forth, with independent laboratories indicating that the products were indeed contaminated with the carcinogenic material and Claire’s saying that their own tests showed no contamination, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration will be entering the debate and conducting their own investigations.
In the past, most mesothelioma lawsuits have generally been filed against companies whose products were used in industrial or construction settings, and which were known to contain asbestos. But as more has been learned about the many ways that asbestos exposure has occurred in the lives of the American people, there have been some shocking discoveries and allegations. Perhaps the most surprising of these has revolved around an iconic product that has traditionally been associated with purity and safety: Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. A New Jersey jury has spent the last several weeks listening to evidence in a case involving a banker diagnosed with mesothelioma, and now will decide whether Johnson and Johnson is at fault for his illness.
Natasha Mitchell of Littleton, Colorado is facing an enormous financial setback, but it is the risk of her family being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease in the future that’s keeping her up at night. She and her husband Chris had decided to do renovations in their 1970s-era home, and posted on Facebook that they were looking for a contractor who could remove a popcorn ceiling in their kitchen that had a “high probability of having asbestos.” They were contacted by a handyman who came in with a lower bid than anybody else, so they chose him to do the work. That’s when their trouble started.
According to a report published by consulting firm KCIC, the number of lawsuits filed against asbestos companies for their role in causing peoples’ mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer fell in 2017, and the reason is the decreasing amount of asbestos present in America’s workplaces. The 2017 decrease follows a pattern over the last two years: the number of cases filed in 2015 was 5,336; the number of cases filed in 2016 was 4,812; and the number of asbestos-related lawsuits filed in 2017 was 4,450.
Though it is expected that asbestos company attorneys will argue aggressively in defense of their clients, a California judge recently chided an attorney for Metalclad Insulation as pushing their case too far. The case involved a victim, 81-year-old Ardella Fox, who has been diagnosed with both lung cancer and asbestosis. In February of 2017, Ms. Fox and her husband Robert sought an expedited trial date in their suit against 18 different defendants based upon her ill health and advanced age. Of the 18, only Metalclad opposed their petition, which had included information that her cancer had metastasized throughout her body and that she was also suffering from other asbestos-related diseases, anemia, and heart problems. The couple hoped to take advantage of the fact that she was in remission as a result of chemotherapy treatment, and pointed out that she still suffered from a weakened immune system and various debilitating side effects from her illnesses and her treatment. A trial court allowed Metalclad’s objection on the basis that the couple had failed to provide enough information about her illness, and the couple appealed.