There is no question that asbestos is a carcinogen. We know that this material can lead to cancer. What is often debated within the courtroom is responsibility. Who is responsible for the asbestos exposure that led to the cancer? Was it the company that made the product, the employer that used it or did the worker make a mistake that led to exposure?
A recent case dives into these questions.
The case involved a man who worked with a major tire company, Firestone, for over two decades. During his time at the tire plant, the victim was exposed to asbestos in two different ways. First, in his work with mold presses to make the tires. Second, through the presence of insulation that contained the dangerous material within his workplace. Exposure led to the development of two extremely painful forms of cancer, pleural and peritoneal mesothelioma — perhaps better understood as cancers of the lung lining and stomach lining.
Most involved in the lawsuit chose to settle the claim. The maker of the insulation did not, however. Instead, the maker of the insulation argued that they had stopped selling asbestos containing insulation prior to the construction of the tire plant. As a result, they stated they could not have supplied asbestos containing insulation within that room.
When presented with both sides of the argument, the jury held in favor of the victim. The insulation company appealed this holding. In order to have a successful appeal, the appealing party must show that the lower court made a mistake. In this instance, the insulation company argued the court made a mistake when it gave the jury the wrong information to make its decision. It is not uncommon for the court to give the jury some instruction on the law that it should consider when making its decision. In this case, the insulation company says the court gave the jury the wrong instructions. Ultimately, the insulation company lost their appeal. The victim won.
Although these cases can lead to lengthy arguments and drawn out court battles while the victim is fighting cancer, there are benefits to fighting these battles. If successful, the victim and their loved ones can receive financial compensation to help cover the victim’s medical expenses and lost wages. A successful case can also work to deter other responsible businesses from making the same potentially fatal errors.