Weitz & Luxenberg attorney Brittany A. Russell recently secured a $23 million trial verdict for our client who developed mesothelioma cancer after being exposed to asbestos at her place of work. The jury awarded:

  • $2 million for disfigurement resulting from injury.
  • $6 million for the loss of a normal life.
  • $5 million for shortened life expectancy.
  • $5 million for pain and suffering.
  • $5 million for emotional distress.

Cynthia Cowger was employed at an industrial laundry facility that used press pads manufactured by Qualitex Company. Qualitex is the world’s largest manufacturer of press pads. It manufactured press pads and other industrial laundry/dry cleaning equipment.

Exceptional Win for Our Client

“The size of the verdict shows the jury appreciated the enormity of what our client has been through,” Ms. Russell says “They agreed that she has suffered unimaginably for the last five years. With this verdict, the jury is saying ‘We believe you. We hear you. What you have been through is horrible.’”

Following the decision, several jurors asked to Facetime with Ms. Cowger. “In this Facetime meeting, the jurors told our client: We wish we could give you your life back, but we hope this verdict can help in some way,” Ms. Russell emphasizes.

Overcoming Legal Attempts from Qualitex

Weitz & Luxenberg initially filed suit against the Qualitex Company in Delaware in 2018. Qualitex contested everything, including personal jurisdiction.

W&L attorneys then filed this case in Chicago, where it was tried. The trial lasted just three weeks. The jury deliberated less than one business day before reaching a unanimous decision.

Qualitex contested every issue. They found multiple co-workers in an unsuccessful attempt to dispute Ms. Cowger’s exposure, disputed causation, and even “made a discovery demand to sequence our client’s full DNA,” Ms. Russell adds. The demand for Ms. Cowger’s DNA was the subject of a pre-trial Frye hearing, where the Court denied Qualitex’s demand as it was not based on generally accepted science.

“The defendants tried to convince jurors our client was mistaken when she said she had seen the Qualitex press pads. But, ultimately, the jury — 12 citizens — concluded our client’s version of events was the truth,” Ms. Russell points out.

Exposed to Asbestos at Work

For five years during the 1970s, Cynthia Cowger served as an office worker for F.W. Means in Evansville, Illinois. This industrial laundry facility rented out linens, towels, and uniforms — including executive wear. The company also cleaned and laundered these materials.

Ms. Cowger was responsible for going out onto the plant floor and picking up soil tickets. These tickets specified how many items were laundered or dry-cleaned. She visited pressing stations that used Qualitex press pads. Ms. Cowger was exposed to these asbestos-containing products multiple times a day, every day, for anywhere from only a few minutes to as long as 20 minutes. She developed mesothelioma at age 61.

Over the last five years, “Ms. Cowger has been through all kinds of treatments,” Ms. Russell explains. “She’s undergone multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation. She’s also tried immunotherapy and participated in multiple clinical trials.”

Cancer Due to Asbestos Exposure

Asbestos causes cancer, including an aggressive and fatal form called mesothelioma. Its latency is often decades.

This means its deadly fibers, once inhaled, can slowly and insidiously ravage your internal organs — often the lungs. By the time you are diagnosed, the disease is typically advanced.

W&L Asbestos Lawsuit Wins

Since our founding in the mid-1980s, Weitz & Luxenberg has made it our mission to help as many victims of asbestos exposure as possible.

Notable wins include New York state’s largest single asbestos verdict in the amount of $75 million, a $25 million trial verdict on behalf of an oil refinery worker, and a $20 million verdict for the family of a marine ship repairman who developed mesothelioma.

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