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As a gas station and school bus mechanic in the 1960s and ‘70s, Steven “Joe” Aaron was often exposed to toxic asbestos dust while working on asbestos-containing brakes and clutches on vehicles made by Ford Motor Company.
At the time, however, Joe had no idea that this dust could cause a range of serious health risks, like mesothelioma, an aggressive cancer caused by asbestos exposure. Asbestos companies, on the other hand, have known about the dangers of asbestos since the early 1900s.
In November 2019, Joe started experiencing breathing issues and a persistent cough.
His doctors treated him for an upper respiratory infection, but a chest X-ray revealed a buildup of fluid in the lining of his lungs (a pleural effusion). He suffered his first heart attack in January 2020.
By April 2020, Joe’s symptoms had worsened from a cough to shortness of breath, chest pain and excessive sweating — but his doctors seemed stumped. After suffering another heart attack, Joe underwent heart surgery in May.
It wasn’t until then that his surgeon noticed that the lining of Joe’s left lung or pleura looked unusual and thick. This prompted Joe’s surgeon to perform a biopsy during surgery. Through a biopsy, doctors can look at a sample of tissue under a microscope to see if cancer cells are present. Unfortunately, his biopsy confirmed the worst.
At the age of 65, Joe was diagnosed with epithelioid mesothelioma. The diagnosis shocked and devastated his family.
To celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, Joe and his wife Karen had intended to take a vacation together — but his diagnosis changed those plans.
Instead, the couple would need to prioritize doctor’s appointments and mesothelioma treatments.
Before his diagnosis, Joe lived an active life as “Paw-Paw” to his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
When he wasn’t working, Joe spent his time with them, often taking them camping and fishing, or just helping them with whatever chores needed to be done. Now, his grandkids are the ones helping him.
“I want to help them more,” Joe said about his grandchildren. “They’re just starting out in life and they need help, but I just got to where I couldn’t do the things I wanted anymore.”
Although he wasn’t a candidate for surgery, Joe underwent chemotherapy and radiotherapy for treatment. But the cost of medical care added up quickly, amounting to more than the family could cover without seeking some kind of financial assistance.
After Joe contacted our firm, Partner Paul Dix and the Simmons Hanly Conroy team jumped right in and started building his case, researching his exposure history and gathering the evidence to prove it.
With the help of our mesothelioma lawyers, Joe and his family filed a mesothelioma lawsuit in August 2020 to seek justice and hold the companies responsible for his illness accountable.
Although the trial was originally set for April 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a few delays. Two months later, Joe’s lawsuit proceeded to court, leaving the fate of the case in the hands of the jury.
“In his life, Joe made all the right choices, he did everything right to provide for his family,” said Partner Dan Blouin, co-lead attorney during opening statements. “He should be enjoying the reward of those choices, but now he can’t because he’s got a fatal disease called mesothelioma. And the reason why he has mesothelioma is because of the choices made by Ford Motor Company.”
After three weeks of trial, the jury deliberated for only an hour before finding that Ford failed to warn Joe about the dangers of asbestos.
Because of this, the jury awarded him with a mesothelioma verdict of over $8.26 million, a life-changing sum for his family.
“While no amount of money will make up for the loss of Joe’s health and independence, the jury sent a strong message with its verdict,” said Partner Don Blydenburgh, who served as co-lead attorney during the trial. “This result is fair compensation for the loss he and his family have suffered.”
For Joe and Karen, this verdict is the best news they could dream of. They are so grateful for the team’s hard work and for what this result will mean for their family — all of their children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
As a leading national mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy is proud to help those affected by asbestos-related diseases hold the companies responsible for their illness accountable and secure the financial results they deserve.
Since 1999, our asbestos attorneys have recovered over $9.3 billion for mesothelioma patients and their families nationwide.