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Norris was born and raised in Los Angeles and worked as a construction supervisor in southern California for about 20 years, beginning in the 1970s. During that time, he oversaw workers who were cutting and beveling transite pipes, which unfortunately contained asbestos.
The pipes were manufactured by J-M Manufacturing (J-MM), a company that knew the risks of asbestos exposure but failed to warn the public about them, denying workers like Norris the chance to protect themselves.
Decades after his exposure, Norris was diagnosed with pleural mesothelioma. Sadly, he passed away at the age of 65 — but not before receiving justice for what happened.
Although he wasn’t performing the work himself, Norris was repeatedly exposed to the asbestos fibers released into the air when the pipes were cut. When asbestos fibers become lodged into the lining of the lungs, mesothelioma can develop decades after initial exposure.
Sadly, unbeknownst to Norris, the construction work he did in the 1970s and 1980s had made him a ticking time bomb. Unfortunately, mesothelioma is an extremely fast-moving and aggressive cancer. Norris was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017 and passed away in 2018 at the young age of 65.
When Norris discovered the dangers of asbestos had been known since the early 1900s, he was furious. Although his prognosis was grim, he became determined to fight back against the companies that knowingly robbed him of life with his soulmate and wife Lori.
With the help of his dedicated mesothelioma legal team at Simmons Hanly Conroy, a California jury awarded Norris $30.2 million in mesothelioma compensation.
“It truly made such a difference for my husband to know that good guys can actually win and bad guys can actually lose, and there’s somebody out there that wants to help you make that happen.”
– Lori, Wife of Norris
Norris lost his battle with mesothelioma just a few short months after his trial concluded, but the verdict gave him a sense of peace at the end of his life that he wouldn’t have otherwise had.
Norris and Lori met on the job when they were working for a custom home building company. Norris was a project manager, and Lori worked in the interior selections department. Because of their overlapping roles, the pair frequently collaborated on projects and immediately became best friends.
“I never did believe in soulmates, but I do now,” Lori said. “I do since having met him and having had my life with Norris.”
When asked about her favorite memories of Norris, Lori recalls their first date and wedding day. Norris already had a daughter and son when the couple got married, and the children became like Lori’s own. The family loved taking vacations together, especially skiing and camping trips. Lori loved to cook and took pride in preparing meals and creating daily menu boards for her family.
The couple dreamt of building a home together someday. They had close friends who shared their vision and planned to build their dream home when they all retired.
Tragically, Norris’ mesothelioma diagnosis cut their dreams short.
The couple knew that asbestos is widely used in the construction industry and quickly connected the dots between the diagnosis and Norris’ work history.
Norris had spent his teens and early twenties on job sites that were known to contain asbestos. However, he didn’t realize how deadly asbestos exposure could be — nor was he ever warned.
The more Norris learned about the history of asbestos, the angrier he became. In what can only be described as a corporate cover-up, medical reports of the asbestos-cancer relationship were hidden as far back as the 1920s.
Despite the documented hazards, companies continued to manufacture and sell asbestos products without providing workers with warnings or protective gear.
It was the final straw for Norris when he found out that the asbestos companies purposefully exposed him to something that could take him away from his family.
His anger soon turned into wanting to figure out a plan to provide for his family when he was gone. This led the family to get help filing a mesothelioma lawsuit.
“We filed a mesothelioma lawsuit to have our day in court.”
– Lori, Wife of Norris
When the couple began researching mesothelioma lawyers, they found Simmons Hanly Conroy. They knew right away that they had come to the right place.
“Hiring Simmons Hanly Conroy was the smartest decision that he and I ever made together, aside from deciding to get married. To me, the Simmons difference is they become your family. They’re in it for all the right reasons.”
– Lori, Wife of Norris
Soon after initial discussions, Shareholder Robert Woodward visited the couple at their home to go over the legal process and what it would entail.
At that time, Norris was already in hospice care, with Lori still working.
Despite the chaos they were living in, the couple was put at ease because they were not pressured and felt that Robert was completely in tune with their concerns.
“I care about helping people who worked hard all their lives. I became an attorney because I want to give people like them a voice in the legal system and help make a difference in their lives.”
– Robert Woodward, Simmons Hanly Conroy Shareholder
“It was an incredible weight to have to accept — that that kind of irresponsibility exists and that we would have to go through this arduous process at this devastating point in our lives to do anything about it,” Lori explained.
“The only things that gave us the energy to fight were Norris’ anger and the support from Simmons Hanly Conroy.”
When he filed his mesothelioma lawsuit, Norris was unsure if it would settle out of court or go to trial. This is because mesothelioma settlements and verdicts depend on the legal strategy developed for each individual case.
While many cases settle, Norris’ case went to trial instead and was heard in Los Angeles — but appearing before a jury provided a sense of closure to Norris.
According to Lori, the trial brought Norris some peace at the end of his life because he felt he got to present his side of the story and explain his intentions for being there.
“Getting to the trial itself made Norris feel that it was finally his day in court. There isn’t any better way to say it than that. It was in front of a jury, so he felt like they were peers. It wasn’t just a judge deciding.”
– Lori, Wife of Norris
Since his health was rapidly declining, the family’s legal team at Simmons Hanly Conroy pushed hard for as quick a resolution as possible.
Lori recalls that they felt well prepared for what the trial would entail. Because of the thorough prep they had gone through with their legal team, the family was confident and comfortable throughout the trial.
After hearing the facts of Norris’ case, the jury awarded him $30.2 million in mesothelioma compensation. Lori says that it was at that moment that Norris found peace.
For him, the verdict symbolized that, despite the horrific wrongdoing of the asbestos companies, people knew what was really going on.
“While no amount of money can give my husband back his health, this result acknowledges the devastation our family has suffered. I hope this result sends a clear message to companies about the consequences of using asbestos.”
– Lori, Wife of Norris
During the trial, Norris had gotten very ill. His daughter was expecting their first grandchild. The writing was on the wall that he would miss out on everything he had been waiting his whole life for.
Receiving the news of the verdict gave him something to celebrate, which was everything to Norris.
According to Lori, without the mesothelioma lawsuit, there would have been no relief for Norris’ anger and fear over having to leave his family in that way.
The verdict also brought the rest of the family the same peace they needed to let him go. They felt they were able to say goodbye and be there for him in a supportive way.
The trial was in November, and Norris passed away within months of it ending.
“It was almost like once it was done, he just let go,” Lori said. “I think he had really, really been fighting to hold on.”
With Simmons Hanly Conroy, Norris and Lori knew they had an entire team on their side — which included medical experts who specialize in each aspect of mesothelioma, administrative support to help navigate the geographic distance and strong paralegals backing up powerful attorneys.
As a national mesothelioma law firm, Simmons Hanly Conroy is dedicated to helping victims of asbestos exposure. The firm has represented thousands of patients and families affected by mesothelioma throughout the country.
Contact us today to learn more about how Simmons Hanly Conroy may be able to help you and your family.