Victims of asbestos-related illnesses achieved two victories recently, as multiple manufacturers are held financially responsible for the victims’ illnesses. Two cases were heard, one in California and one in Florida, and the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs who received settlements in the millions.
The Times Herald reported that the San Francisco Superior Court heard the case of Robert Hilly, a 64-year-old resident of Vallejo that in 2007 had been diagnosed with mesothelioma, a terminal lung cancer that is caused by exposure to airborne asbestos fibers. Hilt had worked in maintenance for Schlage Lock Co.’s Bayshore Plant from 1963 until 1965. In 1970 he was employed by the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard and also did work for the Mare Island Naval Shipyard as a machinist. From 1972 until his retirement in 2004, Hilt worked for the U.S. Mint in San Francisco. Each of these work environments, especially those many years in the shipyards where asbestos exposure is prevalent, probably contributed to Hilly’s mesothelioma diagnosis. The SF Superior Court granted Hilly over $7.5 million in settlements from 11 defendants that made, supplied or distributed the asbestos-containing products Hilt had worked around for over a decade. This is one of California’s largest settlements for a plaintiff of Hilt’s age, and most of the defendants settled out of court.
Meanwhile in Florida, the Miami Herald reported that courts heard the case of Linda Daly, a 57-year-old woman who was also diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2007. Daly’s exposure to the airborne asbestos responsible for her cancer diagnosis occurred during her employment at a Ford dealership in the 1970s, where she worked on brakes manufactured by Ford Motor Co. and Pneumo Abex. These brakes contained asbestos. The defendants argued that not only did Daly not have mesothelioma, although her diagnosis was confirmed by her physicians, but that although asbestos is deadly, they are not responsible. Fortunately the Broward County court felt otherwise and after only 6 hours of deliberation, the jury found Ford Motor Co. at fault and ordered them to pay $3.6 million to Mrs. Daly. This case will likely be appealed.
Large verdicts such as these against those who have caused other individuals to become sick or die of asbestos-related illnesses not only bring hope to future victims, but they also act as a constant reminder to all industries of the dangers of asbestos and the need to protect our employees, families and communities.