Last week one of Florida’s most prominent attorneys, Milton Ferrell Jr., gave a 3-½ hour video deposition only one day before dying from mesothelioma at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. In terrible anguish and refusing painkillers, Ferrell wanted to be lucid during his deposition against two brake companies and the Big Three automakers. He wanted the companies responsible for his asbestos cancer to be held accountable for his illness and death, as well as the death of so many others exposed to airborne asbestos through their products.

As former president of the American Board of Criminal Lawyers and chairman of Ferrell Worldwide, Ferrell filed suit with the Miami-Dade Circuit Court one week before his death from mesothelioma. The suit charges the two brake companies and the Big Three automakers with marketing an “unreasonable dangerous” product and failure to warn the public of its hazards.

Pleural mesothelioma is a terminal cancer caused by exposure to airborne asbestos, which attacks the lining of internal organs. Ferrell’s exposure to such materials was when he was in college working on brakes and cars for extra income; it is likely he was exposed to airborne asbestos while cleaning and removing brakes, as the material was widely used in car brakes and insulation materials for years prior to 1970. Ferrell had already lost one lung to the illness, and the mesothelioma that had spread to his brain, hip, stomach, and remaining lung was taking his life.

Ferrell’s attorney notes that Ferrell had not intended to file suit until he realized how bleak the outcome of the mesothelioma diagnosis was. In his final three days, Ferrell’s mesothelioma lawyer rushed to get a court order to allow Ferrell to give his video deposition before he passed away.

Ferrell was considered a charitable and gracious man. Noted for his work with the Jackson Memorial Hospital; his help to found The Miami Project To Cure Paralysis and the Miami Aids Ministries; and his many other charitable donations and offers of legal services at no charge, Ferrell was well-respected in all regards.