This past June, a jury awarded $27.3 million to an Oakland couple affected by workplace asbestos exposure
One June 5, 2013 a jury awarded a total of $27,342,500 to Rose-Marie and Martin Grigg as damages for Mrs. Griggs’ asbestos-related mesothelioma.
The source of Mrs. Grigg’s exposure was her husband’s work clothes. Mr. Grigg worked as an insulator and used Owens-Illinois, Inc.’s Kaylo brand insulation products as part of his job from 1950 to 1958. When Mrs. Grigg shook the dust out of her husband’s clothes in the course of doing his laundry, she unknowingly released clouds of asbestos fibers into the air. As she did this regularly for many years, dangerous amounts of asbestos fibers became lodged in her lungs, ultimately causing mesothelioma.
Many lawsuits have been brought against employers and manufacturers who knowingly exposed their workers and/or the public to asbestos. Even though the dangers of asbestos were not widely publicized prior to the 1970s, evidence suggesting that asbestos caused life-threatening illnesses was gathered as early as 1917, and by the 1930s major medical journals were publishing scholarly articles linking asbestos and lung cancer. However, the vast majority of manufacturers and construction companies ignored these findings and continued to expose their workers and the public to this health hazard.
In the Griggs’ case, attorneys were able to prove that Owens-Illinois, Inc., the manufacturer of the asbestos insulation Mr. Grigg worked with, was aware of the fact that asbestos could cause fatal health problems as early in the 1930s. Additionally, it was proven that test results on Kaylo, the specific insulation product in question, showed that it did contain levels of asbestos sufficient to cause fatal health issues. Yet Owens-Illinois, Inc. marketed Kaylo as non-toxic and failed to place any warnings on the product or its packaging stating that it contained asbestos.
The jury found that Owens-Illinois, Inc. made a defective product in Kaylo and failed to adequately warn Mr. and Mrs. Grigg. The jury also found that the company intentionally failed to disclose important Kaylo-related health information to Mrs. Grigg and acted with malice, oppression, or fraud towards her.
The Griggs received $342,500 in economic damages, plus $12 million for Mrs. Grigg’s pain and suffering and $4 for Mr. Grigg’s lost consortium. Furthermore, an $11,000 punitive damages verdict was levied against Owens-Illinois, Inc.
You might think that workplace asbestos exposure is no longer an issue, but the truth is that many American workers continue to be affected. Employers need to inform employees of the risks as well as clean up any damaged asbestos-containing materials on their property with help from an asbestos remediation expert like AQHI Inc. or risk facing legal consequences.