Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Mesothelioma and Asbestos Lawsuits Continue

Victims of mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer caused by exposure to asbestos, and other asbestos-related illnesses, continue to file and win lawsuits around the country.

A Bloomington, Illinois factory worker was recently awarded $17.87 million after she contracted mesothelioma following exposure during the 1960s. According to Illinois newspaper, The Pantagraph, Jayne Menssen was a secretary at Union Asbestos and Rubber Company from 1967 to 1969. The suit alleged that the owners of the company, Pneumo Abex LLC and Honeywell International Inc., knew about the risks of asbestos and did not warn their employees.

The Chevron oil company is facing a similar lawsuit from the family of a Texas man who died of asbestos exposure. Shelton Fontenot worked as a pipefitter and instrument mechanic for Chevron in Port Arthur, Texas. The suit alleges Fontenot died a “painful and terrible” death from pulmonary asbestosis and lung cancer last June, according to The Southeast Texas Record. The family claims that Chevron failed to express the risks to employees or take any action to protect them.

The gloves are off between two Australian asbestos manufacturers after one of them has launched proceedings against the other in an effort to get a contribution toward compensation of a 48-year-old Victoria man. As reported in The Australian this week, the man, Robert Berengo, won his $2 million suit against Amaca (formerly James Hardie) after claiming that he contracted mesothelioma from hugging his father, a painter in the 1960s. Amaca is taking action against CSR claiming there is no way to know which company manufactured the asbestos. Until last year, the two companies had agreed to share the costs of such cases.

In New Orleans, a long-standing mesothelioma lawsuit made headlines after a judge decided to delay the trial because of the New Orleans Saints’ involvement in the Super Bowl. According the The Times-Picayune, the family of Diane Rome Becnel is suing Northrop Grumman for exposing Becnel’s father – and her, through contact with him – to asbestos when he worked at the Avondale shipyard. The trial had been pending since 2005.

A county with one of the busiest asbestos dockets in the country has a new judge to oversee those cases. Madison County Illinois Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder has been assigned to hear asbestos and mesothelioma cases, replacing a retiring judge. Last year, more than 200 asbestos-related cases were filed in Madison country, 28 of them in December alone.

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