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Survivors win $17 million judgment in asbestos case

The survivors of an Arizona man who died after exposure to asbestos led to a terminal diagnosis of mesothelioma recently were awarded $17 million by a jury.

Recently, after a trial that lasted for three weeks, the federal jury in Arizona's U.S. District Court returned with an award of $6 million to the decedent's widow, along with a million dollars to all three of his children.

Additionally, one of the 20 defendants, Crane Co, based in Stamford, Connecticut, was ordered to pay punitive damages in the amount of $5 million, while William Powell Company, a valve manufacturing plant in Cincinnati, Ohio, also faces punitive damages of $3 million in the case.

The man first filed product liability litigation in December of 2012 in Mohave County Superior Court. His petition alleged his exposure to products containing asbestos occurred when he was employed by the Norfolk Naval Shipyard as a machinist in Portsmouth, Virginia. According to court documents, the decedent worked there for a seven-year period from 1959-1966.

When plaintiff succumbed to mesothelioma nearly three years ago, his wife and children amended the complaint and filed a wrongful death lawsuit.

The jury also determined that the U.S. Navy bore 47 percent responsibility for the worker's injuries and death and William Powell and Crane were respectively 5 and 20 percent responsible. The remaining defendants either were determined to have no responsibility or only 1 percent responsibility.

Asbestos cases can be quite complex to litigate, given the number of defendants in a case and the time that has lapsed since the exposure took place.

Source: Business Insurance, "Mesothelioma victim's family wins asbestos award," Stephanie Goldberg, April 25, 2016

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