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The Matassini Law Firm, P.A. Your trusted legal advisors since 1976

Estate Of Korean War Vet Awarded $12M In Asbestos Lawsuit


The estate of an 83-year-old Korean War vet has been awarded $12M in the most recent asbestos-related mesothelioma lawsuit. The jury awarded the plaintiff $6 for compensatory damages and the judge presiding over the case awarded his estate an extra $6 million in punitive damages. The defendant, a third-party supplier of rope, sold the deceased’s company rope that was contaminated with blue crocidolite asbestos. The plaintiff spent much of his day cutting this rope which lifted asbestos particles into the air where he breathed them in. The defendant died of mesothelioma, a kind of cancer caused by the barbed asbestos particles.

The company that manufactured the rope was blamed for failing to disclose the presence of asbestos in the product. Neither the deceased nor his employer knew that the rope contained the destructive particle.

Punitive damages are rare in personal injury lawsuits, but they’re over-represented in the press. In other words, punitive damages are rare but we hear about them a lot because the defendants in these cases commit egregious crimes against the public trust. In this case, the judge saw fit to punish the company for failing to disclose dangers surrounding their products.

What is mesothelioma? 

Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that attacks the mesothelial lining which can be found in the heart, lungs, and stomach. Malignant mesothelioma is the most common form and it most frequently attacks the lungs.

Asbestos is a pliable mineral that offers heat resistance. It is still used in American products, but regulations now cap the amount of asbestos to 1% of the whole.

In the case of the defendant, the company that sold the rope marketed their product as “completely non-toxic”. The company continues to make these claims concerning its product even today. The plaintiff’s employer cut ties with the company after they learned of the fraud.

When victims are awarded punitive damages, it is generally because the defendant’s conduct was so egregious that it made someone’s death inevitable. A further element of punitive damages is that the defendant knowingly made the product available while claiming it was safe when they knew it wasn’t. Because the defendant had cause to believe their product was dangerous and failed to tell the public about it, there are likely hundreds more like the defendant who were exposed to the product and have yet to develop cancer because of it. It is a bit like firing a gun into a crowd. You don’t know who you’re going to hit, but someone is going to get hit.

This particular company could end up staring down the barrel of multiple wrongful death and negligent and intentional exposure to toxic chemical lawsuits.

Talk to a Tampa Asbestos Attorney Today

The Tampa personal injury lawyers at The Matassini Law Firm are ready to assist with calls on claims for asbestos or other dangerous chemicals. Call today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help protect your family.


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