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A Mississippi jury has awarded the largest U.S. asbestos verdict in history - $322 million.
Thomas Brown Jr., 48, was awarded the sum to cover future medical expenses, pain and suffering, as well as punitive damages against the defendants, Chevron Phillips Chemical (CP Chem) and Union Carbide Corporation.
Brown was a self-proclaimed roughneck from 1979 to the mid 1980s. His position required him to mix drilling mud on rigs in Mississippi and in the Gulf of Mexico. He was only 16 at the time, reports The Laurel Leader-Call.
At age 30, he was diagnosed with asbestosis. Now, Brown must be on oxygen support 24 hours a day. "Brown inhaled asbestos dust while mixing drilling mud sold by CP Chem and manufactured by Union Carbide. Although asbestos was known to cause cancer and lung disease, CP Chem and Union Carbide continued to market these almost 100 percent pure asbestos products long after they knew the dangers," Allen Hossley, Brown's attorney, told The Laurel Leader-Call.
The defense had previously argued that Brown, who was illiterate when he started working, did not deserve the same level of protection under a Mississippi law that required workers be warned about the dangers of drilling using asbestos products, reports The Laurel Leader-Call.
Asbestosis is a condition caused by asbestos inhalation. Typical symptoms include shortness of breath, and crackling in the lungs. Asbestosis has no cure or treatment, and may cause cardiac arrest in serious cases. Workers who have had exposure to asbestos fibers are at a high risk of contracting an asbestos-related illness.
For most civil cases, there is a statutory limitation on when lawsuits may be filed from the date the injury occurred. However, many states have enacted statutes that allow claimants to file lawsuits from the time the asbestos illness was detected, since many of the illnesses associated with asbestos take time to develop. If you think you might have suffered from similar exposure, it's worth your time to consult a knowledgable asbestos attorney.
While the asbestos verdict is no cure for Brown, it is a blow to CP Chem and Union Carbide. The two companies plan on taking their appeal to the Mississippi Supreme Court, reports The Clarion Ledger.