For one Alabama family, it was a hard-won but bittersweet victory. Last month, a district court judge for the Northern District of the state handed down a judgment of $3.5 million to the three daughters of a woman who died from mesothelioma in 2013 from secondary exposure to asbestos.
The survivors successfully sued the Tennessee Valley Authority for the wrongful death of their mother. She contracted the deadly disease after being exposed to asbestos fibers clinging to her spouse’s work clothes while laundering them. The plaintiffs’ father succumbed in 1997 to lung cancer related to his own environmental exposure to asbestos insulation while working in Athens at Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant. The TVA both owned and operated the facility.
The deceased woman got her mesothelioma diagnosis in November of 2011. The rare cancer develops only after exposure to asbestos, and there can be a decades-long latency period from the exposure to the diagnosis. Consequently, victims are often diagnosed only after the disease has advanced to the terminal stage.
In the past, the majority of mesothelioma litigation involved those who worked around toxic asbestos. However, the number of cases involving second-hand exposure is on the rise. Significant settlements and judgments have been awarded on behalf of children, spouses and others who were diagnosed with asbestos-related cancers from aspirating the fibers carried home from the job site. They can cling to the work clothes or hair of those who handled the material directly.
Those diagnosed with mesothelioma, or their survivors, have the right to pursue compensation for the injuries and losses they endured.
Source: AboutLawsuits.com, “Mesothelioma Death Lawsuit Over Second-Hand Asbestos Exposure Results in $3.5M Verdict,” Irvin Jackson, Oct. 28, 2015