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Conoco Phillips appeals asbestos award

An appeal filed by oil giant Conoco Phillips is reportedly set to begin later this month. The company filed the appeal after it was ordered to pay more than $15 million in damages to a former employee who had been exposed to asbestos during his employment with the company, ultimately causing him to be diagnosed with mesothelioma.

In 2010, a jury ruled in favor of a man who had worked as an oil and well worker for Conoco Phillips' CP Chem division before being diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2004. In his lawsuit, the man claimed that CP Chem knowingly exposed oil refinery workers to dangerous asbestos fibers by requiring them to handle a product called "asbestos mud."

The product, which came in large bags that were handled by CP Chem workers on a daily basis, reportedly contained 99 percent asbestos. Conoco Phillips has denied all of the claims made by the man in his lawsuit.

However, the jury ruled in favor of the man, awarding him $15.2 million in damages. Conoco Phillips soon filed an appeal in the case, denying that it was responsible for its former employee's illness. The appeal, which will be heard by the state Supreme Court, is scheduled to begin at the end of this month.

As the sixth-largest private sector energy company in the world, Conoco Phillips had revenues of nearly $200 billion in 2010. This means that the $15 million it was ordered to pay its former employee probably would not make a significant dent in the company's profit margin. However, if the claims in the lawsuit are true, Conoco Phillips is likely appealing in order to prevent a flood of similar lawsuits from being filed against it by other employees.

Source: Mesothelioma & Asbestos Awareness Center, "Conoco Phillips Appeals Large Asbestos-related Award to Well Worker," Jan. 3, 2012

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